FALCINELLI, Bernardino.

FALCINELLI, Bernardino. Instituzione alla cirugia (…)

Firenze, Francesco Onofri, 1649


FIRST EDITION. 8vo, pp. (xvi) 222 (ii), + 2 3-page and 2 4-page folding plates (numbered pp. 223-236) depicting the bone structure of the skeleton, head, torso and limbs. Roman and italic letter, woodcut initials. Printer’s device to t-p, several ¼ to ¾ page woodcut illustrations of surgical instruments and body parts. Age yellowing, mainly marginal foxing, torn lower outer blank corners repaired (up to p. 144), very tiny wormhole to upper margins mostly in between lines and never affecting reading. A good copy in old vellum, recased, gilt title and ornaments to spine, new endpapers.

A good copy of the first edition of this rare and fascinating textbook on surgery written by the Italian master Falcinelli for the students of the School of Surgery of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence.

The public school of Surgery annexed to the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence was founded in the 1580s by the Granduke Ferdinando de’ Medici (1549-1609), and it is the oldest in Tuscany. “The lessons were entrusted by the Surgical Masters of the hospital who held them without payment (…) The students were admitted to the school after having passed an examination which entitled them to start on a course of study lasting seven years, during which period the time devoted to practical exercises was much greater than that dedicated to theoretical teaching” (Tombaccini). Bernardino Falcinelli (end of the 16th – 17th century), was a physician and surgeon who, after practicing for 20 years in Siena and in Florence, was appointed master at Santa Maria Nuova by Monsignor Francesco Medici, the current Spedalingo (meaning ‘rector of the hospital’).

‘Instituzione alla cirurgia’, as Falcinelli states in the book presentation, is an easy and brief introduction to surgery, which he was asked to compose and publish by his “honorable and virtuous students”, his colleagues and his friends. Falcinelli’s passion for teaching and for the subject is evident throughout the work, when he describes surgery as a form of art; at the end, the only reward he asks from his young students for his efforts is that “you remember me in your prayers in life, and after your death”. The volume begins with a short exposition of what medicine is and its history, focusing in particular – as “necessary” according to the author – on the anatomy of the human body and bones. The importance of osteology is also remarked by the presence of four detailed folding anatomical plates at the end, illustrating all the bones of the skull, of the thoracic cage and spine, arm, leg and skeleton. The second section contains a definition of ‘surgery’ and describes what types of illnesses it treats. The third and fourth sections constitute the majority of the work, dedicated to introducing a large number of different surgical instruments and explaining their function and use. Each description is accompanied by a simple but very clear illustration of the instrument and occasionally of the body part involved.

USTC 4019612; Krivatsy 3876. Not in Brunet, BM STC It. 17th century, Garrison-Morton or Heirs of Hippocrates. D. Tombaccini, Florence and Its Hospitals: A History of Health Care in the Florentine Area (2008)
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