LJS 46: Herbal

For the last Coffee With A Codex of 2021, we took at look at LJS 46, a colorful 16th century Italian illustrated herbal. The herbal is part of a manuscript that includes a few other parts, which were copied in England and were bound together from an early date.

The herbal is illustrated with 110 colored wash drawings, mostly green, black/grey and red. In some illustrations faces have been added to the roots or leaves, and there are a few examples of creatures and more fantastical versions of the plants, such as the mandrake (with dog and man covering his ears) on f. 16r.

The only text is the titles that appear at the top of each page, and the illustrations are classical in their models, derived from a manuscript of Dioscorides De Materia Medica that was recovered from the sack of Constantinople in the mid-15th century (it is now in Vienna, ONB co. med. graec. 1). The recovery of the Vienna manuscript inspired a new generation of illustrated herbals, and even today it remains the source of a large part of the nomenclature of plants both popular and scientific.

Throughout LJS 46 there are stains on the paper from where plant matter has been pressed between the pages, and in some cases (as here on f. 53v) the plant matter still remains.

The second part of LJS 46 comprises notes and texts on the flora, topography, and customs of Morocco in English, Spanish, and Latin, written in the mid-17th century. These texts are amongst the earliest accounts in English of Morocco.

Find out more about LJS 46 by viewing the digitized version and reading the full catalog records on BiblioPhilly.

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