Lapis philosophicus dogmaticorum.

Paris, apud Davidem Doulceur, 1609.


8vo. pp. (xxxii) 160 (xii). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p, decorated initials and ornaments. Edges of first and last ll. dusty, a little mainly marginal soiling to a few ll., slightly browned. A good copy in later vellum, all edges sprinkled red, early ms. ex-libris (crossed out) to t-p.

A very good copy of the second edition of this fascinating chemical and medical work—‘très rare’ (Caillet). Pierre Le Paulmier (Palmerius, b.1568) was nephew of Julien, physician to Charles IX. After studying at Paris and qualifying in 1596, he worked as a physician at the Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu. In 1603, he was summoned to the Faculty of Medicine to defend himself for proposing that apothecaries should be taught Paracelsian spagyric chemistry, the separation and re-assembling of the fundamental elements of bodies (Kahn, 360). First published in 1608, ‘Lapis philosophicus’ worsened his ambivalent reputation as a supporter of the Faculty’s Hippocratic and Galenic doctrines and an advocate of chemical medicines, according to Paracelsianism. Whilst believing that health depended on the harmony of the micro- and macrocosm, Paracelsus upheld that physicians should have sound knowledge of chemistry and the natural sciences, pioneering the use of chemical substances and minerals for treating illnesses. Through an attack on his disciple Libavius, ‘Lapis’ sought to compromise between the ancient tradition and Paracelsianism, by celebrating the first whilst preserving the valuable parts of the second (‘true alchemy’, or chemistry) which, he argued, Libavius and Paracelsus had nevertheless misunderstood. It begins with an account of Paracelsus’s ideas, and reasons to reject them, Libavius’s Paracelsianism in relation to the

Greek tradition, the nature and chemistry of medicaments, chemical elements, ‘the necessity of alchemy’, and the characteristics of ‘metalla’. The work ‘attempted to square the use of metallic drugs such as hydrargyrum, stibium and aurum potabile with Galenic orthodoxy. […] [this] served as the foundation for a justification […] of chemical distillates. A book that purported to be an attack on Paracelsus and […] Libavius as poisoners rather than physicians was in fact a defence of the search for celestial essences in sublunary phenomena’ (Brockliss, 76). The final section is a case-study on a woman aged 45 with elephantiasis (fibrosis of the skin) who was treated unsuccessfully by Libavius and successfully by physicians of the French School, with the ‘alchemy of the ancient’. A fascinating, important work in the history of chemistry.

Ferguson II:163; Caillet 8269; Duveen 447; Goldsmith (BL) P-146; Thorndike VI:251-52; Krivatsy 6897. Not in Wellcome. D. Kahn, Alchimie et Paracelsisme en France (Genève, 2007); L. Brockliss, ‘Seeing and Believing’, in Medicine and the Five Senses (Cambridge, 1993), 69-84.


Print This Item Print This Item



Al-Tashrih bi’l-Taswir [a treatise on human anatomy], illuminated manuscript in Farsi on fine polished paper

Timurid Persia, probably Shiraz, likely first half of fifteenth century


4to, 243 by 159mm., 23 leaves, text divided into three separate sections, apparently complete, text in single column throughout, 24 lines fine black nasta’liq with headings in red, opening of first section with rectangular panel above the text containing the blessing ‘Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim’ in large gold thuluth script set against a backdrop of spiralling vines, 5 full-page anatomical illustrations, each with red, blue and green additions, text-panels ruled in blue and gold, occasional scattered smudges or faint soiling, outer edges of leaves chipped with slight loss in places (not affecting text), some edges repaired, a few eighteenth-century inscriptions to recto of first leaf and verso of final leaf, bound in seventeenth century limp leather, painted gold or bronze, spine and edges strengthened, a little rubbed. 

Mansur bin Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Yusuf bin Faqir Ilyas, known simply as Mansur bin Ilyas, was a Persian physician from Shiraz known to have compiled a number of notable scientific treatises, including the Kifaya-i Mansuri (a trestise on medicine). The present text, also known as the Tashrih-i Mansuri, is his most important work, the earliest known text to include a coloured atlas of the human body in the Arabic world. 

The text was first commissioned by Fars politician and Muzazzarid ruler Zayn al-Abdin and is formed of six (or sometimes seven) independent sections including: an introduction followed by chapters relating to muscular, arterial, osseous and nervous systems, an appendix on the formation of the foetus and key compound organs. Most of these sections include an illustration depicting the full length of the human body in relation to these physical systems, the rarest of which is that depicting the foetus (present in this copy). This is a particularly important section of the work because contrary to popular opinion among both contemporary and pre-eminent physicians, Mansur bin Ilyas was of the opinion that the heart was the first compound organ to form in a foetus, and not the brain. This particular chapter of the text explains this theory and cites related arguments made by Aristotle, Hippocrates, Abu Bakr al-Razi and Hippocrates among others. 

This is a notably early example of the text. Though the definitive dates of the author’s life are unknown, he is thought to have flourished in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries: and the style of illumination and script present in this copy strongly suggest it was produced in the first half of the fifteenth century. Thus the present manuscript could well have been copied only a few decades after the author’s death, and likely produced in a similar region in central Persia, quite possibly in Shiraz where the author himself flourished. The large gilt illuminated heading at the opening of the text together with the style of scribal nasta’liq and paper quality all indicate a date of production in the first half of the fifteenth century. 

Despite the wide margins present, there are very few marginal annotations to the codex. This indicates that the manuscript was probably used by a practising doctor or physician as a reference work instead of use by a scholar in the field of medicine. The very light weight and soft binding also strongly suggest that the manuscript was designed to be carried by a doctor going about his practice. It would take up little space and be very easy to pack. The use of gold and illumination indicate that the manuscript may well have been commissioned for a physician of the royal Timurid courts. 


Print This Item Print This Item

SILVATICUS, Matthaeus.


Opus Pandectarum.

Venice, per Simonem de Luere, 1511


Folio. ff. 198. Gothic letter, double column. Decorated initials, printer’s typographical device to last leaf. Finger mark and small marginal ink splash to t-p, another at lower blank gutter of D6-7 and N7, a handful of ll. very lightly browned, minor worming to upper blank gutter of V-Y8, light water stain towards inner margin of last leaf. A very good copy in late C16 (probably Bohemian) pigskin, double blind ruled to a panel design, outer border with roll of interlacing palmettes, second with blind-stamped full figures of Christ’s baptism, crucifixion and resurrection, and Abraham and Isaac, centre panel with large stamps of (upper board) Jael and Sisera and (lower board) Judith and Holofernes, bordered with roll of tendrils, small heads within roundels and small rosettes in blind, IMVF 1592 gilt above and below, a.e.r., spine, joints, corners and edges repaired, minor loss and a few small worm holes to upper corner. ‘Inferius Littera Scala’ (c.1700) to ffep, rubbed C17 ‘Conf.(?) F Misericordiae Pragensis’, late C16 inscriptions and crossed-out ex-libris ‘Jeremiae Tuschgaei Reichenbach Silesij Phil & Med Doc’ to t-p, copious C16 and C17 Latin, German an Greek annotations in black and green ink. In modern folding box.

A very good, handsomely bound copy of this important medical encyclopaedia. The binding, probably made in Prague, is signed by Meister M.H. (Haebler I, 191), who produced several for books owned by the unidentified IMVF, in the early 1590s (‘Jahresbericht’, 23; ‘Knihtisk’, 125). In the early C17 this copy belonged to Jeremias Tuschga (i.e., Tuschka?), a physician of Czech origins in Reichenbach (Dzierzoniow), Lower Silesia. It was later in the medical library in Prague of the Brothers Hospitallers (Fratres Misericordiae) of St John of God—a religious order first approved by the Pope in 1586 and devoted to hospital care and the nursing of the sick.

‘Pandectarum Medicinae’ was the major work of Matthaeus Silvaticus (1280-1342), professor of medicine and botany at the famous School of Salerno. This encyclopaedia, or pharmacopoeia, was compiled from earlier Greek, Arabic and medieval authorities including Dioscorides, Avicenna and Simon of Genoa. It listed herbs in alphabetical order, using both Latinised and Arabic plant names, followed by instructions on their medical properties, preparation and administration. The careful C16 annotators of this copy were physicians or learned botanists, familiar with Greek, in charge of a ‘garden of simples’. IMVF probably left his books to the Brothers Hospitallers in Prague—most probably the C17 annotators—as another book with the same binding (at the Bayer. Staatsbib.) appears to have a similar rubbed-out ex-libris. They carefully studied the text highlighting the ailments each herb could heal, from dysentery to nose bleeding, abscesses, tooth ache, vomit, fevers, oedema, snake bites and asthma, as well as physical responses they could generate, e.g., the expulsion of the foetus and dyeing hair black. Of special interest was epilepsy, with a note on children’s epilepsy on the t-p. Further notes include the use of dragontea for the plague and bracea soup. An annotator marked as ‘inept’ Silvaticus’s mistaken identification of Ambrosia artemisiifolia with Athanasia, which is instead Ambrosia hispida, and ‘falso’ that gallitricum should cause bleeding. They also added references to Albertus Magnus, Giovanni Manardo (1462-1536), professor of medicine and botany at Ferrara, on the difficult administration of black elleborus, the botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501-77) on the use of scabiosa to treat pneumonia, and Arnaldus de Villa Nova (1240-1311), professor of medicine at Montpellier, on the care of herbs.

Only UTMB and NLM copies recorded in the US.

Durling 4206; Panzer VIII, 404, 543; Proctor 12960; Wellcome I, 5972. Knihtisk a kniha v českých zemích (1970); Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Jahresbericht (1996).


Print This Item Print This Item

CROOKE, Helkiah. [READ, Alexander.]

Sōmatographia anthrōpinē. Or A description of the body of man. With the practise of chirurgery,..

[London], Printed by Tho. Cotes, 1634.


8vo. two works in one. 8vo. ff. [v], 15, 17-154; pp. [vi], 117, [i]. A, B-2E, without initial blank. “‘An explanation of the fashion and vse of three and fifty instruments of chirurgery’, a translation from Ambroise Paré by Helkiah Crooke, has separate dated title page and pagination; register is continuous.” ESTC. Roman letter some Italic. Woodcut of two skeletons on title, repeated in text, woodcut initials and headpieces, innumerable woodcuts in text, mostly full page, pastedowns using waste from a printed sheet of a Black letter miniature book ‘Short grounds of Catechisme’, C18th letterpress booklabel of William Ralphs on fly. Light age yellowing, the odd thumb mark, rare marginal mark, small tear on I4 from clumsy cutting of sheet, the text is present attached in upper margin of I3. A good unsophisticated copy, generally crisp and clean, in contemporary calf, covers bordered with a double blind rule, spine double blind ruled in compartments, a.e.r, spine cracked with loss at head, hole in lower compartments, lower edge of lower cover worn, corners worn. In folding box. The pastedowns use waste from a printed sheet from a miniature book, ‘Short grounds of Catechisme’, possibly by William Ward. This might well be the unique surviving fragment as we have been unable to find any such work in ESTC.

Extremely rare first edition of this important military work, printed in Holland, one of two variants; this with the cancel title in English. This copy has the plates in fine contemporary hand colouring. Both editions are extremely rare. This variant is recorded in ESTC in three copies only, two at the Huntington Library and one at Harvard. The variant with the Dutch title page in recorded a unique copy, also at the Huntington. There is no copy of either in UK libraries. The work was reprinted in 1642 in England.

Second edition by Jaggard of Crooke’s medical text, first printed in 1616, extracted by the Scottish physician Alexander Reid from Crooke’s longer Microcosmographia of 1615 which ran to over a thousand pages. This smaller, profusely illustrated, edition was designed to be cheaper and quicker to read, according to Reid’s preface, and references to the longer descriptions in the larger work are given on most of the pages. Crooke (1576-1648) based his work on those of Bauhin and Du Laurens, which were in their turn based on Vesalius, and there is similarity in the illustrations. Its publication was controversial as it was written in English and both the Royal College of Physicians and the bishop of London felt it was highly inappropriate to describe reproductive organs in the vernacular.

“In 1616, the year of Jaggard’s second issue of the first edition of Crooke’s book, the printer commissioned a companion volume, a smaller octavo-sized epitome that was intended to broaden the audience of the anatomy treatise. This volume was titled Somatographia Anthropine and authored by Alexander Read, a Scottish surgeon living in London who would later become educated as a physician as well. Read wrote a brief preface explaining that this smaller book is intended to supplement or complement the larger. On the verso of each leaf is an illustration from Mikrokosmographia, apparently made from the same woodblocks as were used in printing the larger book. At least one bibliographer has conjectured that this may have been motivation for Jaggard to print this smaller version, that he would gain additional financial return on the undoubtedly steep investment of the woodblocks (Willoughby 114). On the recto of the next leaf facing that illustration is the indexed description of the various elements of the body part pictured. Each set of pages is accordingly indexed to the larger volume and includes a line of type directing the reader to the relevant portion of Mikrokosmographia that will discuss the subject at greater length and in more detail. Apparently Somatographia Anthropine had two target markets, one wealthier than the other. For the barber-surgeons too poor to own a copy of Mikrokosmographia, the epitome made it possible for them to purchase a version of the book. For those wealthy enough to own a copy of both, the smaller version served as a handy portable copy of the hefty tome. This seems to have been particularly relevant in the setting of the anatomy theater. The viewers’ proximity to the body being dissected was determined by standing in the Barber-Surgeons’ Company, so that the poorer, younger members of the audience were relegated to the furthest stands. While they likely would have had difficulty viewing the proceedings and had no chance whatsoever to benefit from the folio copy of Mikrokosmographia on the lectern, with a handy pocket-sized anatomy text they could follow along with ease (Cregan 53-54). The success of this model can be presumed from its own second edition, also taken on by Coates, printed in 1634 to accompany the larger later edition.” Jillian Linster. ‘When “Nothing” Goes Missing: The Impotent Censorship of Helkiah Crooke’s Mikrokosmographia’.

ESTC S115689. STC 20783; Doe, Paré 75. Krivatsy 2931. Wellcome I, 1688. Not in Osler, Garrison and Morton or Heirs of Hippocrates.


Print This Item Print This Item

LANDI, Ortensio



Lettere di molte valorose donne

Venice, Gabriele Giolito de’ Ferrari, 1548


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. ff. 161 (iii). Italic letter, little Roman. Woodcut printer’s device to t-p and verso of last, woodcut initials. Slight yellowing, light water stain to some lower outer corners. A very good copy in c.1800 half vellum over marbled boards, gilt-lettered morocco label to spine, c.1800 casemarks to front pastedown, C19 purchase note and Italian ownership inscription to ffep and t-p, C16 underlining and marginalia.

A fresh copy of the first edition of this fictional collection of letters sent to and from important women—‘varying polemic, reproving, instructive, playful and even comic’ (Ray, ‘Writing Gender’, 45), and an important, ahead of its time, stepping stone in the success of women’s writing in early modern Italy. Published anonymously, it concludes with several sonnets by Sansovino, Dolce and Aretino which attributed the work to Ortensio Landi (or Lando, 1510-58), an Italian humanist who, after travelling through Europe, settled in Venice. There he became a ‘polygraph’ involved in editorial and translation work and the authorship of texts from different genres, aimed at the vernacular market. Accused of sympathising with heterodox religious views—including the personal understanding of the Bible and justification by faith alone—Lando saw his works added to the Index of Prohibited Books in 1544 and had to write under pseudonyms. The ‘Lettere’ gathers fictional epistles written by dozens of ‘wise women’, which the editor purported to have collected during his peregrinations. Some of the correspondents were indeed contemporary to Landi, often his patrons—e.g., Isabella Sforza and Isabella Gonzaga—but also invented figures like the Jewish lady of Mantua. Fascinating is the letter by Clara de’ Nobili, the wife of a physician, addressing in unusually physiological language the problems of fecundity and sterility—whether due to the woman’s body or her husband’s semen—and the specifics of conception. She also proposes to her friend and her husband a leisurely visit to their villa to favour conception, with the possibility of aphrodisiac medicaments. In her letter, Mamma Riminalda discusses pregnancy, giving advice and suggesting recipes to women struggling with side effects like swollen feet. In the context of learned debates on female authorship, Lando’s treatise generated a great interest in a book market increasingly keen on women’s writing. The careful early Italian annotator of this copy was studying it for its literary value. He or she was interested in the numerous classical references and mythological episodes, often involving women and gory acts (e.g., King Camble who ate his wife for gluttony one night), as well as in the use of similes, allegories of virtue and vice, and even recipes for medical concoctions. The sections on conception and pregnancy are also marked, especially the physiological descriptions. Was the annotator a young, educated woman?

BM STC It., p. 376; Annali di Giolito, p. 237; Fontanini II, 121; Melzi, Opere anonime e pseudonime, II, 115. Not in Gay. M.K. Ray, Writing Gender in Women’s Letter (Toronto, 2009).


Print This Item Print This Item

CLOWES, William

A profitable and necessarie booke of observations, for all those that are burned with the flame of gun powder, &c., and also for curing of wounds.

London: Edmund Bollifant for Thomas Dawson, 1596


FIRST EDITION thus. Two parts in one. 4to. [iv], 52, 57-229, [iii]: A-2F. “A revised edition of A prooved practise for all young chirurgians, concerning burnings with gunpowder’, with an enlarged edition of ‘A short and profitable treatise touching the cure of the disease called morbus Gallicus by unctions’. ‘A briefe and necesary treatise, touching the cure of the disease now vsually called lues venerea’ has separate dated title page; pagination and register are continuous.” ESTC. Black letter, some Roman and Italic. Small woodcut ornament on t-p, large royal arms on verso, four full-page woodcut illustrations of surgical instruments and ‘The surgery Chest’ on pp. 136 and 137, woodcut printer’s device on second t-p, Clowes woodcut arms on verso, bookplate of Thomas Francis Fremantle, Lord Cottlesowe on pastedown. First title dusty and a little soiled in outer margins, first quire dusty in margins, mostly marginal water-staining, a little heavier in places, the occasional thumb mark, spot or small stain, lightly browned. A good copy in early C19th calf, covers bordered with a blind rule and scrolled border. Spine hatched in blind at head and tail small repair to head of spine.

Rare and important compendium of the surgical writings, expanded in this edition, of William Clowes (c.1540-1604) which were amongst the most significant of the Elizabethan age. Clowes had been a naval surgeon and accompanied the expedition of the Earl of Leicester in the Low Countries. “William Clowes was the foremost Elizabethan-era military and naval surgeon and an expert on syphilis.. Clowes completed his training at 19 years of age and joined the Earl of Warwick’s unsuccessful venture to Normandy in support of the Protestant cause and its leader the Prince of Condé. The English forces were pushed back into Le Havre and, crowded into the city and poorly supplied from across the English channel, were devastated by a combination of plague and scurvy. Clowes, hampered by a lack of supplies wrote that he found his fingers the best of surgical instruments and scabbards quite satisfactory splints. When the defeated English forces came home, Clowes joined the Royal Navy and served as a surgeon’s mate for the next five years during which time he acquired the experience treating syphilis that resulted in his work ‘De Morbo Gallico’, which he published in 1585. With Queen Elizabeth’s support, Clowes was appointed assistant surgeon to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1576.  .. In 1588, he was named surgeon to the fleet that had gathered to meet the Armada.. His 1581 ‘A proved Practise for all young Chirurgions  Concerning Burnings with Gunpowder and Wounds Made with Gunshot’ was the first book in English that dealt with gunshot wounds in a Naval context. In 1596 Clowes published ‘A profitable and necessarie booke of observations’ a compendium of his extensive surgical and medical experience.” Jack Edward McCallum ‘Military Medicine: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century’.

“Clowes’ most important publication is ‘A profitable and necessarie booke of observations’  .. He indicates in these writings an earnest desire to pass on the benefits of his observations to younger surgeons ‘for the good of my countrymen’ .. In keeping with this purpose, he wrote in English rather than Latin. Like his German contemporaies, Clowes was a wound surgeon, and he makes no mention of elective operative surgery. His observations consist of a series of case reports, dealing chiefly with gunshot wounds or burning with gunpowder. Contrary to widely held early opinion, he did not believe gunshot woounds to be poisoned, although .. he became convinced that it was possible for a bullet to be intentionally smeared with poison before firing. He also describes the experiments he conducted by which he learned that the bullet was not sufficiently exposed to heat, as it was being discharged, to neutralise the poison applied. .. This early application of scientific investigation of a clinical problem is of great interest and merits special attention. .. He .. displayed an open mind and the courage to make independent observations and to profit from them. .. Thus he represents and example of the best type of practical wound surgeon of his time.” Leo M. Zimmerman ‘Great Ideas in the History of Surgery.’

Cockle 56. ESTC S108096. STC 5445.5 Osler 2325 ‘The best surgical writings of his time in English. ..his books are full of pictures of daily life in the reign of Elizabeth.’ Welcome 1507. Durling 971. Morton 2373.


Print This Item Print This Item



Daemonomania Pistoriana: magica et cabalistica morborum curandorum ratio.

Lauingen, typis Palatinis, 1601.


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. (lii) 134. Roman letter, with Italic, occasional Hebrew. T-p with typographical border and ornament. Slight age browning (poor paper), lower outer corner of B 1 torn just touching catchword. A good copy in cloth boards c.1900 eps, paper label to spine, modern ex-libris of Emile Lafuma Voiron to fly.

The scarce first edition of this demonological-medical controversy on the Practical Kabbalah, between two important German theologians, one Catholic, the other Protestant. The German Johann Pistorius (1546-1608) was physician to Margrave Karl II of Baden-Durlach; in 1588, he converted from Lutheranism to Calvinism and later Catholicism. This edition features excerpt from ‘De arte cabalistica’ (Basel, 1587), on the Jewish mystic tradition and esotericism, which Pistorius wrote the year before his Catholic conversion, inspired by Reuchlin’s of 1517. In ‘De operatione’, the focus is on Practical Kabbalah, or the part concerning ‘white magic’: ways of making amulets and talismans, and the nature of angels and demons. In particular, it discusses Pistorius’s key observations on its use for treating illnesses. Each excerpt by Pistorius is followed by a ‘glossa’ devised to confute it, by the Lutheran theologian Jacob Heilbronner (1548-1618). Heilbronner begins with an introduction on the figure of the ‘magi’, often confused with astronomers or astrologers, but truly people ‘who entertain commerce with demons’. He even associates Pistorius with them: ‘a magus […] is very rapacious for money and honours, vices which everyone knows are shared by the obnoxious Pistorius’. Heilbronner considered Pistorius’s theories on the cabbalistic treatment of illnesses as black magic. The most important issue he sought to confute was the mystic power, especially the healing power, of words from the Scriptures, in the form, for instance, of charms used to treat people, even of the plague. Heilbronner’s criticism often extends to Practical Kabbalah as a whole—a ‘corruption of the Holy Scriptures, when from letters, numbers, figure, anagrams, conjunctions, spaces and similar details one draws allegorical meanings and mysteries’.

BL Ger. C17 P693; Durling C17, 9040; Graesse V, 306; Caillet IV, D2 3333: ‘très rare’; Bib. Esoterica 3673: ‘très rare’.


Print This Item Print This Item

ALPINO, Prospero


De medicina Aegyptorium, libri quatuor

Venice, apud Francesco De Franceschi, 1591


FIRST EDITION. 4to. ff. (xii) 150 (xxvi). Roman letter, little Italic. Woodcut vignette to t-p, 6 woodcuts (full- to ¼-page) showing body parts and medical scenes, decorated initials, head- and tailpieces. T-p a bit soiled, varying degrees of age browning, C19 steel-engraved author’s portrait tipped-in before t-p. A good copy in contemporary limp vellum, traces of ties. Modern bookplate to front pastedown, C18-C19 bibliographic annotations to fep and rear pastedown, very occasional early annotations.

A well-margined copy of this remarkably influential medical treatise—‘one of the earliest European studies of non-Western medicine’ (Norman 39) interpreted not as a different tradition but as a parallel system of practices that could be compared to Western ones, sometimes through the work of Venetian colleagues.

Prospero Alpini (1553-1617) was a Venetian physician and botanist whose fame led to his appointment as prefect in charge of the botanical garden in Padua, one of the oldest in the world, and professor at the same university. His numerous works concerned with medicine and botany were greatly influenced by his travels in Egypt in the early 1580s, as personal physician to Giorgio Emo, Venetian Consul at Cairo.

‘De medicina Aegyptiorum’ is entirely devoted to the medical customs of Egyptians, and structured in the form of a dialogue between Alpinus and the botanist Melchior Guilandino. The first section discusses the state of art of Egyptian medicine, the most frequent illnesses and epidemics. A substantial part was devoted to the plague, its recent manifestation in Cairo (with half a million victims) and its transmission (through contagion from Greece, not as believed in natural cycles of seven years). ‘For European readers with much more than an academic interest in questions of the origin and means of transmission of the plague, Alpini’s views remained points of reference and contention well into the nineteenth century’ (Seth, ‘Difference and Disease’, 35). The second, third and fourth sections are devoted to medical practice. Alpinus was critical of the Egyptian practice of blood-letting, to which a handsome full-page woodcut is devoted; in his opinion it was used too often (even on children) and the amount of blood let was excessive. He compared Egyptian techniques and practices to those of Venetian colleagues. His examination of various conditions, procedures and treatments is interwoven with considerations on the importance of diet, the positive or detrimental consumption of specific fruit and vegetables and the use of ‘decocti’ for therapeutic purposes. The most important example—the explanation of how to prepare ‘choua’, which tastes like chicory—is also the first appearance of coffee in print. Alpinus calls it the seed of a tree he saw growing in the orchard of the Turkish sultan; he guides the reader through the brewing procedure made by a filtering process. It could benefit women with menstruation, as a facilitator of purgation, and was generally drunk quite liberally, like wine in the West, at public taverns.

The work includes a Tharachfaruc, a list of drugs and antidotes which he compares to the ‘Theriaca Andromachi’ used in Venice. The early annotator of this copy was particularly interested in the preparation and therapeutic use of cannabis.

A ground-breaking work which brought to the West new treatments, medical theories and comparative practices; it still held a safe place on the shelves of C18 and C19 physicians.

BM STC It., p. 20; Adams, A802; Mortimer, Harvard C16 It., 16; Heirs of Hippocrates, 240 (1646 ed.); Osler, 1796; Durling, 178; Wellcome I, 232; Garrison-Morton, 6468 (‘First important work on the history of Egyptian medicine’); Simon II, 42. S. Seth, Difference and Disease (Cambridge, 2018).


Print This Item Print This Item

SANTO, Mariano, VIGO, Johannes de


Opera domini Joannis de Vigo in chyrurgia. Additur Chyrurgia Mariani Sancti Barolitani.

Lyon, [Antonius du Ry for J. And F. Giunta], 1525.


8vo. 3 parts in one, separate t-ps, ff. 179 (v), (iii) 86 (iii). Large Gothic letter, double column, first t-p in red and black. T-ps within woodcut frame with urns, putti, vegetable decorations and arms of France, woodcut portrait of Santo to third, woodcut printer’s device to verso of last, decorated initials and ornaments. Light marginal waterstaining, ancient minor repair to few outer blank corners or outer edges, fore-edge of F-J ink-splashed, small oil stain and worm trail to lower blank margin of M-N. A very good copy in contemporary northern Italian sheep (?), traces of ties, double and triple blind ruled to a panel design, inner border with blind-stamped leafy tendrils, centre panel with large blind-stamped floral centre- and cornerpieces, raised bands, spine triple blind ruled in four cross-hatched compartments, spine a bit cracked, very minor loss at head, expert repair to foot and lower joint. Extensive contemporary annotations, slightly later inscription ‘Johannes de Vigo’ on verso of last.

An interesting copy—in a handsome, remarkably fresh contemporary Tuscan or Umbrian binding—of this extremely successful surgical manual. Johannes de Vigo (1450-1525) was a renowned Italian surgeon from Genoa who, becoming acquainted with Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, was appointed his personal surgeon when he was elected Pope Julius II. In Rome, Vigo wrote two very influential surgical manuals—‘Pratica chirurgica’ (1514) and ‘Pratica compendiosa’ (1516)—which were published in more than 50 editions (‘Heirs of Hippocrates’ 87). ‘Opera’ is the fourth, enlarged edition of ‘Pratica’, first published in this form in 1521, integrated by additional material: a shorter surgical manual composed by Mariano Santo (1488-1550), a Neapolitan surgeon, professor at Bologna, and former student of Vigo. The work sheds light on the most pressing theoretical (‘in universale’) and practical (‘in particulare’) concerns of an early C16 surgeon. After reminding the reader of the notions of anatomy, both Vigo and Santo discuss abscesses, firearm wounds, ulcers, ‘morbus gallicus’ (syphilis), fractures, as well as the characteristics of natural medicaments and antidotes. The surgeon who annotated this copy underlined and glossed dozens of passages on anatomy (e.g., the smaller internal ‘testicles’ women have to host sperm), conditions (e.g., ‘formica corrosiva’ or herpes, scrofula, ‘hernia ventosa’ or orchitis in infants), pharmacopoeia (e.g., the use of a ‘collirium nobile’ or eye drops for the treatment of eye conditions) and surgery (e.g., incision of the ‘membrana spermatica’, phlebotomy). The annotations shed light on his own personal experience in provincial Umbria and Tuscany. He identifies ‘panaritium’ (whitlow) as ‘mal del pino’, according ‘to the Florentine vernacular’, an expression which Falloppio contributed to advertise in print. The annotator also mentioned three cases he attended, all ending tragically. Antonello from Bevagna died from a badly treated abscess on his foot; Francesco from Cortona fell ill and passed away swiftly due to damage to the internal organs; a lady from Bevagna, a peasant, ‘went back to the father who created her’ after a long fever, without lumps or bruises, but only great pain to her arm, which was entirely ‘corrupted’ (gangrene). A handsome, carefully used copy with fascinating insights into the life of a C16 Italian surgeon.

Brunet V, 1220 (mentioned); Durling 4610; Bib. Osler. 4173 (1534 ed.); Wellcome I, 6614 (1531 ed.), Heirs of Hippocrates 87. Not in BM STC Fr.


Print This Item Print This Item

PARÉ, Ambroise [with] DUFOUR, Gerald [with] SABATIER, Jean-Pierre

PARÉ, Ambroise. Cinq livres de chirurgie. 

Paris, chez André Wechel, 1572.

DUFOUR, Gerald. Dissertatio de Febribus in genere.

Montpellier, Apud Fraciscum Rochard, Universitatis Typographum unicum, 1729.

SABATIER, Jean-Pierre. Tentamen medicum de variis calculorum biliarum speciebus, diversoque ab ipsis pendentium morborum genere. 

Montpellier, Jean Martel, 1758.


FIRST EDITION. 3 works in one volume. 8vo., pp. [xii] 470 [ii]. ã8,e4, a-z8, A-F8, G4. pp. (vi) 44. pp. (vi) 100. Roman letter, Italic side-notes. Title within charming woodcut border, grotesque woodcut initials and headpieces, portrait of the author within roundel on verso of t-p, 41 fine woodcuts of medical operations and instruments, anatomy etc., “Le quatre mai mille sept cens soixante huit” mss at head of title, C. Bergouhnioux ink stamp on a few leaves, ‘Ex. Steedman – BGA 1948’ in pencil on verso of fly. Title page and verso of last dusty, very light waterstain at head of first leaves, the odd marginal stain or spot. A very good, clean copy, with good margins in early C19th vellum over boards for C. Bergouhnioux, (gilt stamped at base of spine) spine gilt ruled in compartments, fleurons gilt at centres, tan morocco label gilt, a little soiled.

Very rare and important first edition of Ambroise Paré’s greatest work, illustrated with a woodcut portrait of Paré at the age of 55 and 41 woodcuts depicting surgical operations and instruments. ”The Cinq livres contains all new material. It had been called by several serious writers Paré’s chef d’oeuvre. In it appears the first description of the fracture of the head and of the femur. Secondly, it is the first appearance of the whole teaching of bandages, fractures, and dislocations which has come down to us from the ancients, broadened by Paré’s own experience. It is undoubtedly one of his most important works” (Doe 19). This eminently practical work is very rare, even more so in good condition, as copies were undoubtedly much used in the field as a practical guides. “Paré’s original books, all very rare today, were handy volumes, small enough for the field surgeon’s knapsack” Hagelin. “During the 1537 siege of Turin, a young French barber-surgeon abandoned the conventional wisdom about the treatment of bullet wounds, giving rise to a revolution in surgical techniques and pedagogy. Ambroise Paré .. set the stage for the modern melding of scientific medicine and the invasive procedures that define surgery at the turn of the 21st century. The dogmatic quality of Galenism meant that physicians until the Renaissance – and in many ways until the 19th century – did not practice a medicine based on practical observation, experience, and empirical analysis. The treatments proscribed by Galen and the earlier Hippocratic writings were first comprehensively challenged by Paré and the anatomical writings of Paré’s contemporary, Andreas Vesalius. … Paré made his break from the traditional practices in 1537 when he ran out of the boiling oil solution conventionally used to “detoxify” and cauterize wounds caused by gunpowder-driven projectiles. He replaced this harsh treatment with a soothing balm made from egg yolks, rose oil, and turpentine. The next morning, he was astonished to find the recipients of his new treatment were resting easily while those who suffered the cauterizing oil were “feverish” and afflicted with “great pain and swelling about the edges of their wounds”. Seeing the dramatic difference between the “proper” and improvised treatments, Paré resolved to only treat cases with procedures he had personally observed to be useful. This resulted in such innovations as the use of ligatures in amputations, treatments for sucking chest wounds, and a cure for chronic ulcers of the skin. Although this experimentally driven medicine did not come to define the physician’s practice until the rise of the Paris Clinic in the 19th century, these first writings established an important foundation of empiricism in European medicine. … By writing in his native language, Paré was able to produce a series of volumes renowned for their clarity of form and easily accessible to his fellow barber-surgeons. His reliance upon the experiences of a long and notable career (he was often away at wars, attending high officials and, later, kings) gave his arguments heft .. [His] publications went beyond the descriptions of procedures and his books included illustrations of the instruments he employed, another groundbreaking innovation for surgical texts. .. Ambroise Paré’s numerous technical innovations and literary contributions to the art of surgery were deeply felt in the continued development of surgery following the 16th century. ..  His emphasis on techniques that minimized the damage done to the tissues of the patient has guided the development of the gentle art of surgery in the many centuries since his writings first appeared. Although his writings and techniques appeared during a time in which surgery was a separate realm from medicine proper, physicians and surgeons can now look to Paré as the founder of modern surgery, a restorative process that heals the body with minimal suffering.” Drucker. ‘Ambroise Paré and the Birth of the Gentle Art of Surgery.’

The work was bound with two very interesting C18th medical theses both printed at the University press at Montpellier, the world’s oldest medical school still in operation, by C. Bergouhnioux, a surgeon and author of medical works. 

USTC 29581 Janet Doe, ‘Bibliography of the works of Ambroise Paré’. no. 19. Brunet IV 366. not in Adams, Eimas, Durling, Norman, Wellcome, or Mortimer Harvard. Copac records just one copy, at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.


Print This Item Print This Item