Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia. Quam olim edidit Anselmus Boetius de Boot, Brugensis, Rudolphi II. imperatoris Medicus. Postea Adrianus Tollius, Lugd.-Bat., M. D., recensuit; figuris melioribus, & commentariis pluribus illustravit, & indice auxit multo locupletiore. Tertia editio longe purgatissima. Cui accedunt Ioannis De Laet, Antvverpiani, De Gemmis & Lapidibus libri II. Et Theophrasti liber De Lapidibus, Gr. & Lat. cum brevibus notis.

Leiden: Joannes Maire, 1647.

Price: $4,900.00

Octavo: Two parts in one volume. 18.8 x 11.7 cm. 576, 24; 64, 210, 6 pp. (?)4, A-Z8, Aa-Oo8, Pp4 (Pp4 blank); *-****8, A-N8, O4


Bound in contemporary Dutch vellum (lightly soiled, lower “yapped” edge a bit warped). Complete with both folding tables. Illustrated with eighty-seven (87) woodcuts of gems and minerals, including geodes, hematite, crystals, corral, and fossils.

A very good copy, with scattered mild soiling and light foxing, very lightly stained at upper margin; a few gatherings lightly toned, tables a little browned at the head. Tiny marginal tear on title, second leaf, and leaf N2; some dog-eared corners. Nick in blank lower margin of gatherings M and N (second sequence) far from the text, corners of leaves in gathering L (second sequence) lightly creased.

Third and best edition (1st 1609, 2nd 1636), edited by the Belgian physician Adrian Toll (1610-1675), of “one of the most important mineralogical works of the seventeenth century, marking a transition over previous lapidaries” (Schuh). The mineralogical researches of Jan De Laet and the translation (presumably by de Laet) of Theophrastus’ “On Stones” are added here for the 1st time.

"In his ‘Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia’ Boodt, the Bruges humanist and court physician to Rudolf II of Bohemia, made the first attempt at a systematic description of minerals, dividing the minerals into great and small, rare and common, hard and soft, combustible and incombustible, transparent and opaque. He uses a scale of hardness expressed in three degrees and notes the crystalline forms of some minerals (triangular, quadratic, and hexangular). Boodt criticizes some of the views of Aristotle, Pliny, Paracelsus, and others, but accepts the existence of the four elements and three principles, although he also mentions atoms. He enumerates 600 minerals that he knows from personal observation, and describes their properties, values, imitations and medical applications. There are also tables of values of diamonds according to their size and a short description of the polishing of precious stones. Boodt cites nineteen authors and, besides the minerals known to him, gives a list of 233 minerals whose names he knows from Pliny and Bartholomeus Anglicus, among others." (DSB)

"De Boodt assembled virtually all of the knowledge then far the most thorough and complete up to date... [The book] is further distinguished by its intimate knowledge of the art of the lapidary and must therefore be regarded as the first treatise to offer more than the briefest views of gem cutting." (Sinkakas)

“One of the most important mineralogical works of the seventeenth century, Boodt’s work marks a transition over previous lapidaries. A new era was marked with its publication, one in which the believes of the past began to be challenged, and the researchers began to use hypothesis and experimentation to present new ideas… Boodt was skeptical of the curative virtues of various gems. He suspected that it was coincidental that a specific type of gemstone was associated with a sick person who became well. Instead, he believed if stones had curative powers it was because they worked in concert with the body to effect a cure, not any supernatural property. 

“Discussing the properties of stones, Boodt gives a long discussion of hardness. He provides the earliest system of hardness grading for the various stones, which acted as a crude index to distinguish imitation gems from genuine. He distinguished three degrees of hardness and also included softness as a related but different property. Soft stones are considered such if fingers alone are sufficient to rub away the surface. Hard stones are called hard when they can neither be rubbed away with fingers nor cut by iron. Hard stones are classified under three categories: (1) a steel file can scratch the stone, (2) only the use of the Smyrna stone [emerald??] can cut the surface, and (3) those that can only be rubbed away with a diamond point.” (Mineralogical Record).

Brunet: 1, no. 1108; Dryander, Catalogus Banks, 1796-1800: 4, p. 6; Freilich Sale Catalog: no. 69; Roller & Goodman, Catalogue, 1976: 1, 140; Sinkankas, Gemology Bibliography, 1993: no. 781; Poggendorff: 1, col. 1341.