Delle fontanele.

Padua, Gaspare Crivellani, 1620.


FIRST and ONLY EDITION. 4to. ff. (viii) 80 (iv). Roman letter, with Italic. Engraved architectural t-p with arms, putti and allegorical figures, 5 full-page engraved plates of surgical techniques and instruments, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. First gathering partly loose, a few ink splashes to t-p and another, edges untrimmed, minimal marginal spotting, last two gatherings browned. A very good copy in contemporary carta rustica, minor loss to spine.

A very good copy of the FIRST and ONLY EDITION of this most interesting surgical treatise. Domenico Galvani (d. 1649) studied medicine in Padua and practised very successfully in Venice. In addition to ‘Profilatica’ (1641), a manual on how to live longer by leading a healthy life, he wrote this innovative work, dedicated to the Doge, on the surgical procedure of the ‘fontanela’ (not to be confused with the namesake portion of the skull according to current anatomical conventions). It was a small, suppurating sore made ‘artfully’ through fire, medicaments or surgical perforation, and maintained to eliminate current illnesses and preserve from future ones. The work is addressed to practitioners, so that they may avoid treating injuries using the deadly techniques used in antiquity which would make patients ‘die or pine for death rather than undergo such tortures by iron and fire’. The first part describes several kinds of edema or the accumulation of ‘corrupt humours’ in body parts which caused extreme pain and sometimes death unless purged through a ‘fontanela’, a name drawing a similarity between water-springing fountains and humours-springing sores. Galvani also referred to his own professional experience by mentioning a surge of vascular edema in Venice, caused by the excess of blood serum due to the summer heat. The second part is devoted to practice and how to administer ‘fontanele’—what kind of techniques and instruments should be used in specific cases, how to preserve and bandage the sore—illustrated with engravings. In particular, it devotes a large section to ‘fontanele’ made on the skull as they were the most difficult and potentially dangerous to perform. An interesting work on a lesser known surgical technique in the history of medicine.

5 copies recorded in the US.

USTC 4000534; BL STC It.6, p. 375. Not in Brunet, Graesse, Bib. Osl. or Wellcome.


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