This is an incunabula herbal. It is partially based on the text of the Gart Der Gesundheit (Garden of Health) believed to be the work of Johann van Cube (Johann Wonnecke of Kaub), printed in 1485 by Peter Schoeffer in Mainz. However, the Hortus Sanitatis greatly enlarged the scope of the previous book by adding additional plants as well as extra sections on land animals, birds, fishes, stones and minerals, and a section on urine. It was first printed in 1491 by Jacob Meydenbach in Mainz. Johann Pruss then printed three editions of the work (two in 1497 and this edition in 1499). He reduced the size of the text to use less paper. It is believed that many of the woodcuts of the plants were borrowed from Johann Gruninger’s 1485 edition of Gart Der Gesundheit and others from Meydenbach’s edition. Pruss’ editions became the standard for later printers and translations. The Hortus was a very popular work, which was translated and reprinted many times.
Our copy of Hortus Sanitatis has double columns with 55 lines. It has headlines on the top and marginal letters on the side along with one botanical woodcut illustration. There are paragraph marks as well as two-line capitals. This is the third Pruss edition of this work.
Johann Pruss, also known as Johann Pryss (1447- ca1510) was a German printer born near Wurttemberg. He worked in Strassbourg from 1480-1510. The printing business he ran in Strassbourg was first started by Johannes Mentelin, then taken over by his son-in-law Adolf Rusch, before being acquired by Johann Pruss. Pruss was also a publisher and book dealer. He is credited with printing the first Bible with a title page in 1486.