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Digital Gallery

Hortus Sanitatis, 1491

In 1485, German printer Jakob Meydenbach published the first natural history encyclopedia, Hortus Sanitatis, "The Garden of Health." A collection of illustrations and instruction, this work describes plants, herbs, animals, fish, birds, and stones, along with their medicinal uses and preparation. In addition to familiar plants and animals, Meydenbach included mythical creatures, such as the dragon, harpy, hydra, and phoenix. The popularity of the book resulted in the publication of over 20 editions between 1485 and 1547. Beautiful woodcuts, many in color, show the subjects surrounded by their natural environment.

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

Title page of a book.
  • Creator:

    Jakob Meydenbach, printer