A C17 PHYSICIAN’S COPY
Thesaurus chirurgiae.Frankfurt, N. Hoffmann, 1610
FIRST EDITION. Folio. 2 parts in 1, pp. (xii) 1-660, (iv) 665-1164 (xxxii). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p and last recto, ½-page woodcut portrait of Ambroise Paré to (:)6 verso, Hippocrates to 3H6 recto and Galen to 3I1 verso, over 400 handsome woodcuts of animals, prodigies, body parts and surgical scenes, decorated initials and ornaments. General age browning common to German imprints of this date, occasional slight marginal foxing, small flaw to upper outer blank corner of Z3, very small worm trail at blank upper gutter of last four ll. A good copy in contemporary German pigskin, double blind ruled, outer border with blind rolls of interlacing ribbons, second with blind roll of tendrils and small heads within roundels, inner borders with blind geometrical rolls, central panel with fleurons to corners and centre, raised bands, joints just split at foot, outer corners of upper board worn. Early ms. casemark to front pastedown, C17 ms. Latin moral motto and ms. ‘Emmanuel ab Egg 1614 (?)’ to ffep, C19 stamp ‘Mayor Dr Ch’ to t-p.
This copy was in the library of the German physician Emmanuel ab Egg (or Abegg, b.1584?) from Schaffhausen (Scafusianus). He received his doctorate at Basle in 1609. In the same year, he published ‘Theses iatricae de apoplexiae diagnōsei kai therapeia’, and signed the Stammbuch of the great Swiss botanist Caspar Bauhin, who also worked on the standardisation of anatomical terminology. From 1611, he was city physician at Schaffhausen, this copy being an important addition to his reference library (‘Matrikel’, n.100).
A very good copy, in a solid contemporary German binding, of the first edition of this huge, encyclopaedic and beautifully illustrated collection of surgical texts. Their editor and corrector, the German Peter Uffenbach (1566-1635), studied medicine at Strasbourg and Padua, and received a doctorate at Basel (1597); he died treating victim of the plague as city physician in Frankfurt. His works include treatises on menstruation, poison, food, drink, and the illnesses of horses. ‘Thesaurus chirurgiae’ was an incredible resource for city doctors like the owner of his copy, featuring major state-of-the-art medical texts on the most important everyday conditions. The first (and most illustrated) part comprises 26 works, in Latin translation, by the renowned French physician Ambroise Paré (1510-90), a pioneer of surgery and pathology. These discuss human and animal anatomy in detail, as well as conditions such as tumours ‘against nature’, wounds, including those from the battlefield (for the treatment of which Paré was especially famous), gangrene, ulcers, fractures, syphilis, children’s smallpox and measles, poisons and the plague. Others examine mechanical instruments for fixing fractures, the use of ‘simples’ (herbs) as medicaments and their distillation. The last concerns the treatment of corpses. Most interesting is the section on human generation, birth and related conditions and treatments (with woodcuts of foetuses in various positions inside the womb). This is followed by another on ‘monsters and prodigies’, or infants born with features that are ‘abhorrent’ or ‘against nature’, with an examination of probable physiological (e.g., an exceedingly small womb), demonic or magical causes. Among the numerous illustrated human ‘monsters’, generally based on true events, are Siamese twins, a man with a human body attached to his stomach (in Lyon in 1530), deformed infants, hermaphrodites, and the birth of a child with black skin from white parents (and vice versa). Animal monstrosities, of great visual attractiveness, are accompanied by the most intriguing woodcuts. The second part of ‘Thesaurus’ begins with a revision of Conrad Gesner’s medical collection ‘De Chirurgia […] scriptores veteres et recentiores’, featuring works on tumours, wounds, ulcers, fractures, kidney stones, balms and herb medicaments by J. Tagault, J. Holler, G. Dondi and several other major C16 physicians. In particular, Dondi’s ‘Remedia chirurgica’ is an incredibly thorough index, in double column, of remedies (and one-line preparation instructions) of all known ancient and modern medicaments, divided by illness. ‘Thesaurus’ concludes with a 32pp. index—a fundamental instrument for easy consultation. A very important medical work for the everyday work with C17 surgeons and physicians, and a copy of interesting provenance.Garrison-Morton 5568; Wellcome I, 338; NLM C17 12040. Not in Heirs of Hippocrates or BL STC Ger. C17. Die Matrikel der Universität Basel. Band III (1962); R. Jung, ‘Uffenbach, Peter’, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie 39 (1895), p.134.