Strassburg: Bernard Jobin, 1587. First Edition. 8vo. , 102 ff. +  ff. Register (unhelpfully arranged by first names). COMPLETE with 103 woodcut portraits after original designs attributed to Tobias Stimmer numbered  + 102. Title in red and black within woodcut border surrounding Jobin's device. Late 16th- or early 17th-century German vellum, covers bearing a lovely arabesque tool in centers and smaller ornaments at the corners, evidence of two pair of ties; 19th-century vellum spine tooled in black; 19th-century endpapers (a little weak); some minor stains and overall browning. Very good. Item #2512
First Edition of this extraordinary series of 103 striking (dare we say "iconic") woodcut portraits of many of the greatest thinkers of Renaissance Europe and of the Reformation, with an emphasis on German-speaking humanists, scientists, and practitioners of medicine. Included are Hutten, Savonarola, Erasmus (after Holbein?), Huss, Savonarola, Helius, Copernicus, Luther, Vesalius, Calvin, Gesner, Melanchthon, Fuchsius, Zwingli, Sambucus, the musician Orlandus Lassus, and of course many others, all of which are accompanied by an epitome of the life of each subject in the form of a German quatrain. Our favorite is a fine anachronistic rendering of Ptolemy in German Baroque costume; that of Albertus Magnus is decidedly 14th-century. The portraits are arranged chronologically according to the date of the individual's death. As thirteen had occurred during the years 1580-1587, it is therefore possible that some of these portraits had been drawn from life. The preface names Tobias Stimmer (1539-1584) as the designer of the blocks, but this attribution has been disputed owing to the fact that Stimmer had been dead for three years by the time this book was published.
¶ The first edition in German is basically unobtainable on the market; this, the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg - Stirling Maxwell - Vershbow copy, is the only one listed in Rare Book Hub, which currently has more than 8 million records in the rare book transaction history. Also published in 1587 is a Latin edition, not uncommon, which contains only 100 portraits. ¶ Adams R-408. Fairfax Murray German 361. LC Rosenwald 720. VD16 R-1429.