New Acquisition in the History of Medicine Library: Bock Kreütterbuch from 1595.

March 28, 2016 at 12:03 pm 1 comment

Boch Kreutterbuch Image

Monies from the McColl Endowment Fund for 2016 were used to purchase the following title for the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library:

BOCK, Hieronymus.  Kreütterbuch, darin underscheidt Namen und Würckung der Kreutter, Stauden, Hecken und Bäumen, mit ihren Früchten, so in Teutschen Landen wachsen … Item von den vier Elementen, zamen und wilden Thieren, auch Vögelen und Fischen, Milch, Käss, Butter, Honig, Wachs, Zucher, Saltz, Brot, Wein, Essig, Oeln, Eyer, Blüt, Schmaltz, Unschlit, allerhand Kochkreutter, Specerey, und Gewürtz. Auch wie alle Speiss und Dranck, Gesunden und Krancken, dargereicht werden sollen … Strassburg, Josias Rihel, 1595.


This book is a very attractive colored copy of the final edition of Bock’s great herbal, including the Teutsche Speisskammer, a “gallery” of food and drink preparations both for the healthy and the sick, illustrated by 19 woodcuts depicting food gathering and preparation, markets, wine making, etc., by Tobias Stimmer and Christoph Maurer.

bock kreutterbuch

The first illustrated edition of Bock’s herbal was published in 1546, and contained 468 woodcuts (enlarged to 530 in the 1551 German edition) by David Kandel. Kandel for the most part based his woodcuts on those of Fuchs and Brunfels, but some one hundred are entirely original, and include several with charming genre scenes accompanying the plant depictions, many with his initials.  In this copy all of the woodcuts are in fine contemporary coloring, using water and bodycolors, with careful shading of leaves, etc.  Interestingly, where the woodcut is based on Fuchs, the coloring follows that of the publisher’s colored edition of Fuchs, which was ‘based upon the artist’s original colored drawings made from living specimens’ (Blunt).  The coloring of the present copy has the points set out by Dr. William T. Stearn (in Bibliography and natural history, Thomas R. Buckman ed., Lawrence, Kansas 1966, pp. 3-4) for distinguishing publisher’s coloring in Fuchs from copies colored privately or later.


Bock was one of the ‘fathers of German botany’, the triumvirate that included Brunfels and Fuchs.  As a botanist Bock was their decided superior.  He was not shackled to the classical authority of Dioscorides and Pliny, and therefore could recognize new plants without his perception being clouded by supposed classical precedents.  He pioneered descriptive botany, giving a detailed developmental history of each plant in its stages of growth, and was the first to discuss plant communities, thus foreshadowing the science of ecology.

The Speisskammer was first published in an unillustrated quarto edition in 1550.


Nissen BBI 182; Ritter 220; Johnston 138; Wellcome 914.


Submitted to LibLog by:
Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator – W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

Entry filed under: History of Medicine.

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1 Comment

  • 1. Holly  |  April 26, 2016 at 6:04 am

    I wonder if that’s Gentiana lutea on the first picture?×300.jpg  Looks a bit like it. Or could it be comfrey? Leaves look similar, but they also remind me of mullein.  It’s so awfully familiar, and it’s narrowed down by the medicinal theme of the book, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it is. Either way, this book is a beautiful piece of history. I wish I could see it with my own two eyes.

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