BARTHOLIN, Thomas, attr.; CULPEPER, Nicholas, COLE, Abdiah.


BARTHOLIN, Thomas, attr.; CULPEPER, Nicholas, COLE, Abdiah. Bartholinus Anatomy.

London, J. Streater, 1668.


FIRST EDITION. Small folio. pp. [8], 377, [1] + 4 folding plates, bookseller’s ad mounted before title, long clean tear repaired. Roman letter, double column. Engraved folding anatomical plates (c.12cm wide), 69 full-page or smaller engraved anatomical illustrations. Age yellowing, mainly marginal finger-soiling, intermittent very light browning, minor repair to few blank margins, the odd ink spot. A good copy in contemporary ‘Cambridge-style’ calf, triple blind ruled, blind-stamped fleurons to corners, raised bands, spine double blind ruled, joints, corners and foot of spine repaired, all edges sprinkled red. Copious mid-C19 medical notes and watermark sketch to eps and title verso, ms ‘John Smith July 27 1843’, another unclear and price to title, a few more to verso of 3 plates (without see-through), ms ‘Gibbon here from America 1844’ to D1, occasional ms notes in Smith’s hand on sundry subjects.

A well-used, interesting and good copy of the first edition in English of this most influential, handsomely illustrated medical and anatomical compendium. ‘The text ascribed to Bartholin […] is apparently culled from earlier material, which is fairly typical of compendia and translations compiling several decades’ worth of a single or multiple set of authors’ work published at a later date’ (Peterson, p.34). The illustrations were a big selling point, advertised in the title: ‘With 153 figures cut in brass, much larger and better than they have been heretofore printed in English’. ‘Anatomy’ was indeed also a compendium of the history of anatomical illustration, most copperplates copied from major works such as Aselli’s, Bartisch’s and Vesalius’s.

 Nicholas Culpeper (1616-54) was an English botanist, astrologer and astrologer trained at Cambridge. He practised as apothecary in London, whilst publishing influential works in English, including numerous translations, about medical remedies (e.g., the London Dispensatory) and medical astrology; he was later accused of witchcraft. Abdiah Cole (1610-70) was a London physician. ‘Anatomy’ brings together theories drawn from the works of the Danish anatomists Caspar Bartholin (1585-1629), author of the standard text ‘Anatomicae Institutiones’ (1611), and his son Thomas (1616-80), who published, in 1652, the first full description of the lymphatic system, as well as ‘observations of all Modern Anatomists’, together with Culpeper’s. Part I, in 4 books, begins with a chapter on the lower belly, discussing the skin, fat, membranes, abdominal muscles, guts, stomach nerves, intestinal valves, pancreas, liver, spleen, kidneys, ‘piss-bladder’, etc. All are accompanied by detailed illustrations with captions identifying each organ, and thoroughly discussed with reference to conditions, physiology (human and animal), and ‘erroneous’ medical theories. Most interesting is the section on the reproductive organs, with very detailed accounts of their physiology. The section on the clitoris is especially interesting: it mentions its uses in ‘carnal copulation’ between women so called ‘Confricatrices’ (or ‘Rubsters’), a ‘lascivious Practice […] said to have been invented by one Philenis and Sappho’; it also mentions the practice of female circumcision in eastern Africa. Book II focuses on the middle venter or cavity, i.e., the chest, lungs, heart and throat. Book III discusses the head, i.e., hair, brain, the eyes (with handsome engraved dissections), ears and oral cavity. Book IV is devoted to the limbs and muscles. The second part is divided into 4 ‘manuals’, each corresponding to one of the four Books. The first focuses on veins (with an engraving clearly inspired by Aselli), valves and the lymphatic system; the second on arteries; the third on the nerves; the fourth on all kinds of head bones and ligaments. Appended are two epistles by Johannes Walaeus to Thomas Bartholinus on the motion of the chyle and the blood, with references to Harvey’s theories and many others, and outstanding engraved illustrations.

 A later owner of this copy was probably the physician John Smith Ashby, from Burton-upon-Stather, Lincolnshire. He annotated the eps and odd leaf in the 1840s. Once he noted a great snow storm, another the arrival of a friend, Gibbon, remarkably from America, and a few times he wrote down recipes for herbal remedies.

 The bookseller’s advertisement capitalised on the genre by listing further such works on offer at George Sawbridge’s, including some by Bartholin, Van Helmont, Culpeper and Salisbury’s translations of Galileo and others.

ESTC R24735; Wing B977; Wellcome II, p.107. Not in Krivatsy, Osler or Heirs of Hippocrates.
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