Tractatus de urinisFrankfurt am Main, heirs of Nikolaus Basse, 1610
FIRST EDITION. 12mo, pp. (ii) 138 (iv). Roman letter, some italic. Printer’s device to t-p, one woodcut decorated initial, headpiece and tailpiece. Browning (heavier to some gatherings), paper flaw without loss of one leaf, tear from outer blank margin of one fol., small tear to A2 without loss, a couple of outer margins a bit short, just touching side note. A good copy in French calf c. 1700, spine with raised bands, gilt title and floral decoration in compartments. Bookplate of the French neurologist Dr. Maurice-Villaret (1877-1946) and earlier ms. “Vest 1ere T. J. 112” to front paste-down, C19 ms. autograph “Pierre Gauthier” to fly.
Rare first edition of this medical work on urine by Rondelet. An esteemed and successful physician, Guillaume Rondelet (1507-1566) was Regius professor of Medicine at the University of Montpellier, where he also served at chancellor towards the end of his life. He wrote various treatises on therapeutics and pharmacology, which are considered original contributions as he rarely cites other authors. Rondelet is also well-known as a naturalist for his ‘De piscis marinibus’, a leading treatise on marine animals and fish.
‘Tractatus de urinis’ is a concise but detailed treatise focusing on the examination of urine for diagnostic purposes. In the first chapter, Rondelet argues that the study of urine is “certainly useful and necessary to understand illnesses, but also health, as well as to make diagnoses”. After explaining the etymology of the word, Rondelet describes what urine is (a product of digestion, primarily produced in the stomach) and what kinds of illnesses can be detected through uroscopy: e.g. diseases of the liver and fevers, but not diseases affecting the heart. Many chapters are concerned with the different types of urine (e.g. “tenuis”, “crassa”, “alba”), their colours and appearance (e.g. ‘clear’ or ‘cloudy’), the presence of sediments (e.g. ‘arena’ = sand, or calculi) and other substances (e.g. blood), and how they can be linked to different diseases. At the end is a curious addition, titled “The story of Didymus Obrecht”, in which Obrecht himself, a physician of Strasbourg, confirms that one day he expelled worms through urine. An interesting note by the editor reveals that Rondelet did not want to publish this treatise as he could not revise it, and asks the reader to be indulgent towards this edition.
The manuscript autograph is probably that of Pierre Gauthier (1746-1820), French bookseller and publisher active at Bourg-en-Bresse about 1772 and later at Lyon (see Jean-Marc Barféty, ‘Libraires hauts-alpins dans la France des Lumières’, 2019).USTC 2067433; VD17 VD17 32:655836S; BM STC Ger. C17, R1092; Krivatsy 9923; Not in Garrison-Morton, Wellcome I, Heirs of Hippocrates, Osler, Brunet or Graesse.