By: Basilius Besler, Klaus Walter Littger and Werner Dressendorfer
444 pages, colour plates
A magnificent pictorial document of the flowers grown in the greatest German garden of its time, the Book of Plants is in a class of its own when it comes to the variety and range of flowers engraved.
Working under Basilius Besler, a team of at least ten engravers worked on this massive project, translating in situ and specimen drawings faithfully to copper plates. Nearly four hundred years old, the book has survived though the gardens did not; they were destroyed by invading Swedish troops in 1634. However, in 1998 a reconstruction of the original garden opened to the public in Eichstaett.
This facsimile's reproductions - structured by seasons - are taken from a hand-painted edition, one of only a few still extant. In auction, the asking price for a first edition copy is half a million dollars. You can now enjoy its unique qualities for somewhat less.
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Werner Dressendorfer, pharmaceutical historian and lecturer at the universities of Erlangen and Wurzburg, is currently conducting research into the history of healing plants from a socio-cultural viewpoint, with a focus on the symbolism of plants and their role in superstition. He is the author of a number of pharmaceutical publications and scientific papers on the Late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance. Klaus Walter Littger is head of the manuscript department at Eichstatt University Library. In addition to essays on German language and literature, he has published a number of papers on the history of the University of Eichstatt and the history of music at Eichstatt. He is editor of a periodical and a series of publications on the history of Eichstatt.
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