Jan van Doesborgh. Der Dieren Palleys, Gheprent bi my Jan van doesborch, Thantwerpen, M.CCCCC.ende .xx. den vijfften dach in Meye. (Colophon translated: “The Palace of the Animals, Printed by me, Jan Van Doesborch, Antwerp, 1520, finished the fifth day of May.”)
An unrecorded, seventh copy of a very rare Dutch version of the Hortus Sanitatis. Robert Proctor, Jan van Doesborgh, Printer at Antwerp, an Essay in Bibliography. No. 21. Nijhoff & Kronenberg, Nederlandsche Bibliographie van 1500 tot 1540, Vol. 1, pp. 596-7, no. 1667. (24 cm. x 18 cm.) The other recorded copies were found in Paris, Brussels (2 copies), London, Amsterdam and one copy at the Draiflessen Collection, Mettingen.
Folio. Collation: [A new vellum leaf sewn in, plus four new paper blanks, followed by the original old blank end leaf (formerly F124) now bound in front, as an initial blank; and, its paper is different from that used by the printer for the text. A1 missing in this copy, A2-6, B1-6, C1-4 – U1-4; X1-4, Y1-4, Aa1 – Hh3; 4 new paper blanks and one vellum]. 123 folia, F 123(b) blank]. Printer’s name and the date of completion are given on F 123(a). The individual folia were given, centuries ago, hand-lettered Arabic numerals on the upper right-hand corner of the recto only.
Der Dieren Palleys has a two-column text. F B6b(2) has a 39-line column. F 124b lacks the device described in Proctor, as this page is completely blank. Two portraits (Dioscorides and Avicenna) on F B3(a)(2) present in this copy are not mentioned by Proctor in his descriptions of the two copies he examined. The same two portraits appear on F B4(a)(2) and are not mentioned by Proctor. Proctor’s image 84 does not appear on G3(a)(2) but rather appears on G3(b)(2) (verso of folio 31). The unique image from America on F L1(a)(2) of two pigmy Indians riding goats (folio 45) is where Proctor placed it in the two copies he examined. An unsuccessful hand obliteration of the black letter text occurs on F N1(b)(1) underneath an image of a man making medicine. Reproduction of the title-page variant on F O2(a)(2) lacks the figures of Pliny, Albertus Magnus and Dioscorides, as described by Proctor.
The inhabited historiated “I” of the Prologue is hand-colored, as in the second image on F A2(a) of God creating Eve from a sleeping Adam. The double-page image on F A3(b) and F A4(a) of the ten ages of man is hand-colored. Images on F D4(b) and E1(a) are also hand-colored. The birds on F S1(b) and S2(a) are hand-colored as are the borders. The remaining cuts are uncolored. The total number of woodcuts given by Procter is 382, but a few are used more than once.
In general, the internal condition is fine. This copy has been trimmed slightly. Printed on heavy paper, bright, clean pages, with occasional manuscript extensions (cross referencing with other contemporary texts), also there are manuscript titles added to some of the portraits, and some illumination of chapter initials. Both the black letter text and the images are very strong and bright.
The book has recently undergone a thorough conservation and rebinding by Deborah Evetts in a new, full, yap-edged white vellum recreation of a contemporary binding, with peg-and-frog fastenings. The text block was disassembled and the old adhesive (hot melt-hide glue) was softened with starch paste, enabling the removal of a thick layer of the old hide-glue from the surface of the book block and the separation of the gatherings. The folia were then repaired with Usu-Mino Japanese tissue guarding strips and rice starch paste. The alum-tawed joints of the vellum flyleaves were pasted to the first and last gatherings. This is the only adhesive used in the entire new binding apart from the guarding strips, as it is almost completely held together by sewing. The removed boards are now stored in the bottom of the custom-made box, also by Deborah Evetts. The old front board has the bookplate of Walter L. Necker, sometime antiquarian bookseller, librarian, library builder and life-long student of pre-Linnaean natural history. See Necker’s obituary as published in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 68 (3), July 1980.