[Gart der Gesundheit]

Ein Gart der Gesuntheyt.

Strassburg: Johann (Reinhard) Gruninger, ca. 1485. Based on the Herbarius; served in turn as a basis for the Hortus sanitatis--Cf. Hunt p. 12. Title from leaf [2]b: Und nennen diss buch zu latin Ortus sanitatis, auf teutsch ein gart der gesundheyt. Incipit: [O] fft vnd vil habe ich bymir selbst betracht dy wudersam werck des schopfers natur . . .Has been attributed to Johann von Cube, whose name appears in ch. 76; attribution disputed by Klebs and others. Imprint from BM 15th cent. References: BM 15th cent., IB 1508; Goff, G-99; Copinger, 3178. Includes index. Rubricated throughout. Leaves 1, 102, 209, 216, and 224 wanting. Leaf 121 damaged, affecting 2 illustrations. Occasional ms. note in margins.

"The Garden of Health" included all the medical knowledge of its time. Its author is unknown and, like many other early herbals, it is thought to be a compilation of data from many sources. This is one of two incunabula (books printed before 1501) in this collection. Der Gart was the first herbal written not in Greek or Latin, but in the vernacular German; however, because it is in the Bavarian dialect it is still quite difficult for modern readers. This work heralded a return to nature as the source for the botanical specimens used for illustrations. There were 379 woodcuts designed especially for this work, with 65 being faithful renditions of plant specimens. The remaining illustrations were copied from earlier sources. By using larger woodcuts, greater accuracy and detail could be depicted. Der Gart lists in alphabetical order every known disease or ailment, and under each, gives references to chapters discussing appropriate remedies. In addition there is an index listing the medicinal "simples" which were the single or primary ingredients from which compounded prescriptions were made. There are 435 chapters about plants, chapters on minerals and animal products, and a chapter on uroscopy, a method of analyzing a patient's urine to diagnose disease. Some feeling for the style of this work can be obtained from a translation of part of the entry for bituminous coal: "A master named Enax says in his Book of Stones that this is a gemstone that has power to turn away all demons and melancholy from virgins [who carry it]."

Subjects: Botany; Medicine; Medicinal plants.


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