GESNER, Conrad. LIÉBAUT (Jean).
Secrets de médecine et la philosophie chimiqueRouen, chez Nicolas Loyselet, 1643
8vo. pp. [xiv] 297 [xxxi]. â8, A-Qq8. Roman letter, some Italic. Small woodcut illustration on title of an alembic, many small woodcut illustrations in text, woodcut initials and headpieces, ‘Ex de Mirabeau (cat. 1791; no. 1590)’ in pencil on rear fly with mss shelf mark at side, book-label of ‘Max Cointreau’ (the distilling family) on pastedown. Title and first few leaves a little foxed, occasional minor mostly marginal spotting, lower outer corners of two leaves restored just touching a few letters. A very good copy in fine eighteenth century French green olive crushed morocco, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, spine with gilt ruled raised bands, double gilt ruled in compartments richly gilt, edges gilt ruled, inner dentelles gilt scrolled, marbled endpapers, C18th ms. case/library mark on lower fly, a.e.g.
A lovely copy of the final early edition of this important collection of hermetic remedies, charmingly illustrated with over forty woodcut illustrations of furnaces, stills and other chemical and alchemical instruments. This work, by the doctor Jean Liébaut (1535-1596) is a translation, or rather an adaptation into French, supplemented by numerous personal observations, compilations and recipes obtained from his colleagues, of the second part of Conrad Gesner’s ‘Thesaurus de remedis secretis’, published in 1569, four years after the death of the Swiss naturalist. In this collection, Liébaut gives a summary of the major works of the first half of the century on distillation and its medical application, such as those by Brunschwig and Ulstad, also detailing “plusieurs manières de préparer l’or potable suivant les méthodes de Ramon Lulle, de Paracelse, l’huile d’ or de Gesner, l’or de vie ou poudre de soleil”. Caillet. Its first publication in 1573 marked the beginning of the use of chemical remedies in France and the new influence exerted by Paracelsian medicine. Liébault published his work shortly after the Paris Faculty of Medicine condemned the use of antimony. Although claiming to be following Hippocrates and Galen, he made it clear in his preface all the benefits that medicine can derive from preparations obtained by distillation. Liébault, following Brunschig and Gesner, defends the idea of using distillates from medicinal plants in remedies. A large number of the recipes given in this work for medicinal distillates were by Liebault’s colleague Antoine Fumanel. Liébault also gives chapters on distillates from various oils and concentrates a large part of the work on the making of “Eau-de-vie” or distillation from alcohol. He devotes chapters 27 to 31 of book III to antimony. In it he attaches great importance to the method of preparation of antimony which he felt was instrumental to the therapeutic effectiveness of the remedy. He gives more than 25 different recipes, some of great complexity involving heating antimony powder with vinegar followed by distillation, others are very simple like those he states were given him by Paracelsus. He also includes recipes for potable gold and those derived from mercury, especially for the treatment of syphilis.
Almost certainly from the library of the celebrated early revolutionary and author Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti de Mirabeau; this copy corresponds to the one described on on page 231 of his sale catalogue of 1791, lot 1590 in green morocco.