MERCADO, Luis De Ossium fractura & curatione.

Frankfurt, Wolfgang Enteri, 1650


Folio. Pp. (viii) 36. Roman letter, some Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to tp, ornamental and floriated head pieces and initials, large decorative woodcut tail piece to last leaf. Woodcut illustrations of medical treatments interspersed. Slight age yellowing, small neat repair to outer margins, little mark or spotting. A very good, well margined copy in modern mottled sheep, decorative blind panels, in marbled slip case.

Handsome copy of this medical treatise on fractures by the chief physician to the Spanish Habsburgs, Luis Mercado (c. 1520-1606). In 1592 Mercado was appointed by Philip II to this role, where his duties included “overseeing Spanish medicine, setting up standards for practice and licence, and acting as final court of appeal in proceedings against physicians.” (Musto, David. “The Theory of Hereditary Disease of Luis Mercado”, 1961). Indeed, Mercado’s career coincided with the Golden Age of Spanish medicine and scientific discovery. Mercado’s most successful publication was his wide-ranging ‘Opera Omnia’, a monumental treatise on the extent of medical knowledge at the time. The content ranged from epidemiology to paediatrics to traumatology. The complete works were published between 1594 and 1613 in four volumes, and constitute the greatest medical encyclopaedia of any Spanish author of the 16th century, which went on to be republished and reissued into the 17th century. He is credited with the systemisation of Spanish medical research during his position as Cátedra de Prima de Medicina at the University of Valladolid.

This text forms an independent work derived from his Instituciones para el Aprovechamiento y Examen de los Algebristas (1599), published separately. De Ossium fractura & curatione was published in five posthumous editions from 1625 to 1650. It  begins by explaining the articulation of bones and joints and their layout within the body. From this Mercado explains the reasons for and nature of fractures, dislocations, sprains and other such injuries, and how to heal them. Woodcuts illustrate the proposed, rather unenviable, treatments for algebraists, where men use a combination of their own strength and implements like ladders and tables with various levers and ropes to reconfigure dislocated or broken bones and joints.

Heirs of Hippocrates 216 states “Luis was one of the best-known physicians of the sixteenth century, professor of medicine at Valladolid, and physician to King Philip II and Philip III. He is best known for his extensive treatise of gynaecology and obstetrics”. Pedro Jordan described Mercado in his 1620 eulogy; “Mercado was a man full of virtues, modest in dress, sparing in diet, humble in character, simple in manner”.

Rare. Only one copy in the US at UCSF. For the 1620 edition BM STC Ger Vol III M891; For the 1625 edition NLM 7766.
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