Item #11845 Le bon Mesnager. Pietro Crescenzi.
Le bon Mesnager.
“THE FIRST BOOK ON AGRICULTURE EVER PRINTED… THE FOUNDER OF MODERN AGRONOMY” — OLSON

Le bon Mesnager.

Paris, [N. Cousteau for F. Regnault] and G. I du Pré 1533/4.

Folio (268 x 185.). [iix], clxxxv, [1] leaves. Gothic type, double-column, woodcut initials, text woodcut after Geoffroy Tory of the publisher Du Pré presenting his book to the king (Bernard, Tory 204), text woodcut of a farmer sewing seeds in rows, woodcut arms of Eleanor Queen of France on the final recto, title with a large woodcut L with grotesques (mask and bird).

18th-century mottled calf (rebacked preserving original spine), spine richly gilt (crown and based restored), gilt-lettered red morocco label, red edges, ruled in red.

            AN ECOLOGICAL MANUAL FOR MANAGING THE COUNTRY HOUSE, DEMONSTRATING “A TRULY MODERN CONCERN FOR LOCAL TRADITIONS AND MEANS OF PRODUCTION…MICRO-CLIMATES, SOIL SCIENCE AND THE ECONOMIC INTERESTS OF THE OWNER OF THE VILLA” (Toubert, tr.). This “great book…was one of the most important and popular…of the Middle Ages, and remained a standard…in its field for two and a half centuries” (Sarton). The work had fifty editions in Latin, Italian, French, German and Polish to 1700: well over one hundred early manuscripts of the text have survived. its vernacular translations introduced entirely new technical vocabularies to northern europe.
           Encyclopedic, this treatise brought together all available sources of information, written and unwritten, combining ancient and modern writers with Crescenzi’s experience on his estate just outside Bologna and his observations gathered over decades crisscrossing northern Italy as an itinerant judge. For example, it includes some two hundred ninety species of plants (alimentary, pharmaceutical simples, fodder…), a host of domestic and wild animals (dogs to thrushes), much on bees, fifty chapters on veterinary medicine, notes on dressage, construction of a threshing floor and granary, manuring methods, making cheese from sheep and goats, fish farming, insect larvæ, etc. Recipes for food preparation and preservation appear throughout the work.
           Commissioned about 1300 by Charles II King of Naples, the text is divided into twelve sections. The first deals “with air, wind and water, the situation and building of the house, and the duties of the owner…the second…treats of the nature of the plant, its parts and growth, the needs of the plant, cultivation, soil fertility and sterility, and the change of weeds into cultivated plants. The third deals with the common cultivated plants of medieval Europe — oats, peas, vetches, hemp, wheat, beans, barley, lupines, sorghum, panic grass, flax, rye and millet. the fourth is devoted to vines, vineyards and wines. The fifth deals with trees — fruit trees and ‘other useful’ trees. The sixth is the Kitchen Garden book, and discusses many useful plants…in alphabetical order—celery, beet, cabbage, onion, gourd, garlic, turnip, etc.…eight deals first with the gardens of ‘nobles and kings’, and afterwards with the gardens of ‘the mediocrity’. Next comes a treatise on animals…ten deals with hunting, hawking and the taking of wild animals generally; while book eleven is a general summary of the whole, followed by book twelve a calendar of farm and garden operations” (Russell). The brief seventh section concerns meadows and forests.           Sarton considered the portion on wine (twenty leaves) perhaps the most important in the volume, as it lays out the “Nature of vines and their medical properties; 40 kinds of vines are individualized; elaborate viticulture; preservation of fresh and dried grapes; making of wine; diseases of wines and their remedies; correction of wines (how to change their taste and quality); their virtues. This is partly derived from Pietro’s own observations in northern Italy, and is described by him with precision and clearness”.
           THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK IN FRENCH ON AGRICULTURE. The anonymous translation relied on at least two manuscripts and was completed in 1373, probably by a Dominican, fulfilling a commission by Charles V of France. The current edition restores the full text, which had been truncated over the preceding decades, and adds the 16th-century agricultural writer Nicole Gorgole de Corne’s work on planting and grafting trees and vines, which occupies the final thirteen leaves. Of the thirteen French vernacular editions, I have located four in U.S. libraries (together six copies). In good condition (minor stains on ten lower and four upper corners, neat repair to one leaf), bookplate of the Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain family library, stamp of Jean-Baptiste Huzard (1755-1838; Catalogue (1842) II: 685), from the collection of baron Jerôme Pichon (1812-96; Catalogue (1869) 180), Albert Petit (The Angling Library (10.IIX.1999) 18), exlibris of baron Pierre de Crombrugghe.
¶Olson (Lois), Pietro de Crescenzi: the Founder of Modern Agronomy” in Agricultural History 18 (1944) 35-40; Toubert, “Pietro de’ Crenscenzi, Petrus de Crescentiis” in DBI 30: 649-657; Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science III: 811-815; Russell, “The First Printed Book on Agriculture” in Country Life 43 (1918) 276-278; Sorbelli, “Bibliografia delle edizioni” in Pier de’ Crescenzi (1233-1321)” in  Studi e documenti ed. Alfonsi (1933) 355-361; Bechtel, Catalogue des gothiques français C-888 = C-889; Brunet II: 417 (this copy); USTC 73432 (“lost book”).
Schwerdt, Hunting, Hawking, Shooting I: 127; Mennessier de la Lance, Essai de bibliographie hippique III: 327, 331; Mulder Bosgoed, Bibliotheca ichthyologica et piscatoria 3979; Westwood & Satchell, Bibliotheca piscatoria  71; Rehder & Sargent, The Bradley Bibliography: A Guide to the Literature of the Woody Plants of the World III: 97; Jauss & Köhler, Grundriss der romanischen Literaturen des Mittelalters VIII: La littérature française aux XIVe et XVe siècles 233, 306-307; Hasenohr & Zink, Dictionnaire des lettres françaises: le Moyen Âge 1170 & 1323; Naïs, “Le Rustican: notes sur la traduction française du traité d’agriculture de Pierre de Crescens” in Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance 19 (1957) 103-132; Vigneron, “Le lexique insolite dans Le Livre des prouffitz champestres et ruraulx de Pierre de Crescens” in Écritures insolites ed. Bouloumié (2008) 27-39; see Simon’s Bibliothecæ gastronomica 400-16) and Bacchica I: 32-37 & II: 158-70 & Vinaria 2.

Item #11845

Price: $19,500.00