The Hortus sanitatus ("Garden of Health") is the most important of the medieval "herbals," popular anonymously written books containing information on natural history, horticulture and medicinal remedies, including the purported medicinal value of various mineral substances. The illustration shown here, from the 1491 Mainz edition, is the earliest known depiction of a mineral specimen (obviously gypsum crystals). Although the author is unknown, it was probably the publisher/printer, Jacob Meydenback of Mainz, who arranged for the illustrative woodcuts. The information on gypsum was probably drawn from Pliny's Historia naturalis, in which the mineral is referred to as "lapis specularis."
POBER, S. E. (1988) The first book illustration of a mineral crystal. Matrix, vol.1, no.3, p.44.
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Woodcut (1491) published by Jacob Meydenbach of Mainz in the 1491 edition of Hortus sanitatus. It is the earliest known pictorial representation of a crystal in print. (From a copy in the library of Richard Hauck.)