Basel: [Bey Niclauss Brillinger vnnd Maxx Russinger], 1563. ,CCXVpp., including seven woodcut illustrations (five of them full-page) plus three double-page maps. Lacks the index. Folio. 20th-century grey-printed paper boards, green gilt label. Some wear and scrapes to boards, corners bumped. Bookplate on front pastedown (see below). Occasional light tanning and soiling to pages. Very good. Item #WRCAM55834
The second German edition of Sigismund von Herberstein's NOTES ON RUSSIA, first published in 1549 in Latin, RERUM MOSCOVITICARUM COMMENTARII, and one of the most important historical and ethnographical works on early 16th-century Russia. Herberstein was born in the Hapsburg Empire, in present-day Slovenia, and served as a diplomat and member of the Imperial Council. In his role as diplomat he served as the Imperial Ambassador to Russia, and he is most noted for his writings on the customs and history of Russia. The handsome woodcuts show the accoutrements of a warrior, mounted warriors on horses, various elegantly decorated riding equipment, and a charming scene of sleighing and skiing. Also of interest are the full-page woodcuts of two species of bulls, which have helped prove that the "tur" (or auroch) was the predecessor of the domestic bull, and the "zubr" was the European cousin of the American bison.
This copy was part of the renowned collection of Laura K. (1902-1997) and Valerian Lada-Mocarski (1898-1971). Laura K. (or Polly) was a bookbinder and book preservation advocate who invented the PolyCase, a boxlike plastic exhibition case for rare books, documents, and artifacts. Valerian was a commercial banker and scholar who collected material about Alaska and travelers in Russia before 1750, and produced a highly-respected bibliography of books on Alaska during the period before the American purchase.
This edition was translated by the Basel physician Heinrich Pantaleon, from the Latin original published in 1549. The first edition is exceedingly rare, and no copies appear in auction records. We only found two instances of this edition at auction, most recently the Wolfgang Herz copy, which sold in 2009 for $15,000. ADAMS H-303. BMC 2:1256. BM STC (German) 397. VD16 H2207.