Questionum Medicarum Paradoxarum & Endoxarum

Basel, Ludovici Regis, 1625.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. [xvi] 277 [xi]. Roman and italic letter, printer device on t-p, historiated and floriated initials, ornamental tail pieces, age foxing. A very good copy in a beautiful contemp rigid vellum over board, flat spine gilt with four compartments, double gilt-tooled frames with corner fleurons and central oval ornamental piece, gilt edges, ms. author’s name and date on spine, remains of silk green ties.

First edition of this essay on anatomy, particularly blood circulation with a useful index at end. Felix Platter’s work is a gathering of medical questions divided under five subjects headings: “Physiologicae”, “Pathologicae”, “Simeioticae”, “Hygieinae”, and “Therapeuticae”. The first (and longest) section answers a wide variety of questions about the human body, from birth (including removal of the umbilical chord) to death (including why corpses sometimes take on a yellowish color) with many tips in between, even a short discussion of ‘why the fingers are pale’ and suggesting exposure to sunlight, but warning against sunburn. The final four sections deal more with sickness, symptoms, hygiene including diet, and nutrition as well as women’s health, and finally a small collection of cures including the use of precious stones to draw illnesses from the blood. With such a wide variety of topics in a question-and-answer format, the book was probably intended for use as a household reference guide for the contemporary ailing humanist.

Felix Platter ( 1536-1614) was the son of Thomas Platter, a well-know printer. He is known today for his medical activity and his work on human pathology, especially ‘De corporis humani structura’, which made him famous. He was a faithful disciple of Eustachi, Fallopio, and above all, of Vesalius, from whose De humani corporis fabrica much of his own writing was derived. From his books and especially from public autopsies, which he performed in Basel, he soon acquired a reputation as an important anatomist. As a practicing pediatrician he was ahead of his time, and his works were authoritative until the beginning of the eighteenth century.(C. Coulston Gillipie).

The work is annotated based on the studies and experience of Felix’s younger brother, Thomas Platter (1574-1628), anatomical and botanical professor at Basel where he practiced medicine. He also wrote a journal where he describes his travel through Western Europe (France, Spain, England and Netherlands), a sort of humanistic and initiatory journey with several hand-drawings and plans. Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, a French historian, wrote an important work on the Platter’s family.

VD 17, Michaud, vol XXXIV, p.487 “ On doit à Thomqs Platter une édition du Traité de pratique de son frère (Bâle 1625 in-8) avec quelques corrections et additions résultat de sa propre expérience ». Not in Heirs of Hippocrates, Osler, or Wellcome.


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