This could well be the most famous botanical record ever committed to paper. A magnificent pictorial document of the flowers grown in the greatest German garden of its time. The Hortus Eystettensis is in a class of its own when it comes to the variety and range of flowers engraved. Under the supervision of 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 survived where 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 Eichstatt. At two thirds the size of the original, this is a great book in every sense, and the first in a new series of facsimile reprints of the great books of human thought and accomplishment. Its reproductions 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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Klaus Walter Littger is head of the manuscript department at Eichstätt 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 Eichstätt and the history of music at Eichstätt. He is editor of a periodical and a series of publications on the history of Eichstätt.
Werner Dressendörfer is a pharmaceutical historian and academic librarian. He taught at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, where he was an honorary professor. His particular spheres of interest are the history of the Early Modern herbal, the cultural history of useful and medicinal plants, and plant symbolism in art. He has published extensively on pharmaceutical and botanical history.
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