The chyrurgians closet: or, an antidotarie chyrurgicall. …

Printed by George Miller, for Edvvard Brevvster, and are to be sold at the signe of the Bible at the north doore of Pauls, London, 1630


FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. [viii], 359, [ixxx]. A-Z⁴, Aa-Zz⁴, a-c⁴, d². Roman and Italic letter. Woodcut initials, woodcut head and tail-pieces, typographical ornaments. Ex dono “Dr. Compton hopes that Lady Bonham will give this volume a place in the library at Knowle…1884”, [Knowle Park Kent] engraved armorial book plate of Angus Mac Donald MD. on pastedown. Light age yellowing, minor marginal dust soiling on title and verso of last, occasional mark or spot, small tear restored at gutter of last leaf. A good copy in contemporary calf rebacked, covers bordered with double blind rule, corners worn, upper joint a little cracked, a.e.r.

First edition of this rare and interesting book of recipes and remedies collected by the physician Thomas Bonham. Bonham left his books and papers to his servant, Edward Poeton, by whom they were edited and published as The Chyrurgians Closet. The work was dedicated by Poeton, then residing at Petworth in Sussex, to Frances, Dowager Countess of Exeter, second wife of Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl. The publication of recipe books for medical remedies was significantly curtailed between 1618 to 1649 as the publication of the ‘Parmacopea Londinensis’ in 1618 acted as an official pharmacopoeia. “The Pharmacopea was intended as a kind of writ, a text that would not only supersede but that would also effectively make illegal, if not the publication, then at least the use by licensed practitioners of other medicinal recipe books. .. From 1618 to 1649, almost no new recipe collections of any kind appeared in print. The Chyrurgians Closet (1630), a posthumously published collection of Paracelsian remedies from the physician Thomas Bonham and the anonymous Ladies Cabinet Opened (1639) are among the few exceptions.” Elizabeth Spiller. Seventeenth-century English Recipe Books: Cooking, Physic and Chirurgery.

“Bonham was a physician by qualification, with a Cambridge medical degree (date now unclear), styling himself a medical doctor by 1602. He was not thereby qualified to practise in London by administering internal remedies, without a license from the College of Physicians of London. Bonham took the side of the surgeons, then a separate profession, who in 1605 petitioned parliament, unsuccessfully, for full rights as doctors. Then putting himself forward for examination by the College of Physicians in 1605, and 1606, he had a confrontation with Henry Atkins of the College on the second occasion. Finding himself in Newgate Prison for contempt of the College, he was freed by his lawyer under habeas corpus.” DNB. The work is a treasure trove of remedies for a wide variety of ailments as it states in the title a “varietie and choyce of apophlegms, balmes, baths, caps, cataplasmes, causticks, cerots, clysters, colluries, decotions, diets and wound-drinks” The large index at the end is most useful as it provides a list of ailments with the corresponding remedies. A rare and fascinating work.

STC 3279. Wellcome 969. Not in Osler. 


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