Nova Selva di Cirurgia.

Venice, Bartolomeo Carampello, 1596.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. (12), 118. Roman and Italic letter, printer’s woodcut device on title page, floriated initials, 6 illustrations depicting alembics and alchemical equipment. Title page slightly foxed, occasional spotting, H5 and H7 trimmed with some loss, very light marginal soiling and staining on last 5 leaves, heavier on last, minor worming affecting last leaf. A good copy in modern vellum over boards, title inked on spine, slightly wormed. Ownership inscription by an early hand on title and first recto reading “Ex-libris … Bitontini”.

A rare edition of this treatise on surgery, including a section on distillation and woodcuts depicting distillation apparatus, by Camillo Ferrara (1543-1627), known surgeon from Milan, who was the first to give a lucid insight on microsurgery (sewing blood vessels and nerves back together). In 1598 the work was translated into Latin and enlarged.

As explained in the title and prologues, the work is intended as a practical manual for surgeons including unpublished professional secrets. Ferrara asserts that not only the surgeon has to be experienced and knowledgeable on different remedies, but also familiar with distillation. The work starts with a paragraph on the general rules for a career in surgery: the skills of the physician (knowledge, precision, good vision, emotional balance and self-confidence); analysis of the disease, based on the examination of the symptoms as well as on the patient’s account (anamnesis); the choice of remedies, not only drugs, but also instruments, lifestyle, quality of habitat and environment. There follow two main sections, each preceded by a short introduction and an index of topics in alphabetical order: the first deals with a wide range of diseases, the second with all remedies and the techniques of distillation. Among the diseases are head injuries, particularly open head injuries, eyes diseases, weapon injuries, fears, blood vessels, ulcers, gangrenes, hernias, liver diseases, fevers, hangover, rage in dogs and humans, difficult pregnancies with abortion, toothache, effects of poisoning. Paragraphs 14-15, and 17-18 contain information on microsurgery.  As much detailed and extended is the second part on remedies and treatments, such as eye drops and various distillates for gums and tooth, hair,  stomach, fevers, especially caused by plagues; antidotes for viper’s bites, balms for different inflammations. Most interesting is the description of distillates or powders which can stop the bleeding or heal bruises. The last pages describe the illustrations: curious vases featuring Hermes Trismegistus and a galley, and other distillation apparatus. The numerous observations on prevention show the modern medical approach of the author.

RARE. Only 4 copies recorded in the US (Michigan State University; CRL Chicago; National Library of Medicine; University of Minnesota). Krivalsi, 4028-4030; Dürling, 1492; Wellcome, I, 2222. Not in Osler. Not in Heirs of Hippocrates. Not in Brunet or Graesse. Not IN BL STC. Not in Choulant.


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