THE J. K. LILLY COLLECTION OF ORIGINAL APPEARANCES OF CLASSICAL WORKS IN THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY
J. K. Lilly's interest in collecting medical books in their original appearances budded early but flowered late. It was not too late, however, for him to acquire, at what now seem modest sums, a distinguished group, remarkable not only for their importance but also for their fine condition.
He showed some interest in this field from the very beginning of his collecting career. It was fortunate that, at that time, he could blithely turn down Vesalius's De Humani Corporis Fabrica (Basel, 1543) and Harvey's De Motu Cordis (Frankfort, 1628) on the grounds either that he was "out of funds at the moment" or that "he would prefer to wait for a better copy" and still have second and third chances to acquire them. Today a collector, solvent or not, disregards even mediocre copies of these at his peril, although neither ranks very high among medical rarities.
Among Mr. Lilly's earliest purchases were works of Sir William Osler, for whom he had unbounded admiration. In 1937 he purchased from the writer, then at Scribner's, New York, a small collection of Osler, including a first edition of Aequanimitas with Other Addresses to Medical Students, Nurses and Practitioners of Medicine (London, 1904). This great book had a special attraction for him because, as he explained, the Eli Lilly Company, instead of giving medical school graduates a few sample bottles of pills as a souvenir of this momentous occasion, had come up with a different idea. They sent each a copy of Aequanimitas with the following letter.
ELI LILLY AND COMPANY—Indianapolis, U.S.A.
Eli Lilly, President
Together with congratulations on your attainment of a medical degree, this volume of addresses by Sir William Osler, who adorned your profession in the United States for so many years, is cordially presented.
As the addresses by this master mind of modern medicine are read, may you catch his vision of the almost boundless possibilities of your chosen profession.
May you share with him his "relish of knowledge" and his absorbing love and passionate, persistent search for truth.
Above all, may there come to you an inspiration which will enable you to live a rich, a happy, and an abundant life.Sincerely yours,
ELI LILLY AND COMPANY
The results had been gratifying indeed. Over the years some 100,000 copies had been distributed, including a Spanish translation, and had incidentally provided a welcome source of income to the Osler estate.
Among Lilly's many collecting ventures at this time, his bookish interests were mainly literary and his collecting of medical works was sporadic. He twice refused offers of Harvey's De Motu Cordis, perhaps the most important work in the whole history of medicine. Though over forty copies are known, almost all are in institutions, and it is seldom indeed, nowadays, that a private collector has an opportunity to acquire it. Osler records having had five copies in his possession at one time or another. But that was another era. In 1935 Jake Zeitlin offered Mr. Lilly a copy for $2,500, and in 1937 Charles Scribner's offered him a copy on thick paper at $3,500; both were rejected on the seemingly preposterous grounds that they were not in original bindings and he would prefer to wait for such a copy.
In 1953 he secured through Scribner's a beautiful copy in original vellum for $5,500, the top price he ever paid for a medical or scientific book. This is, I believe, the last perfect copy which has been in commerce. Lilly was taking a great chance by waiting, but his patience paid off.
Through the 1930's his interest was centered largely on American medicine rather than English or continental. He acquired such works as Noah Webster's A Brief History of Epidemic and Pestilential Diseases (two volumes, Hartford, 1799), the standard work on the subject in its day, and William Beaumont's Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice (Plattsburgh, 1833), one of the pioneer works of medical research in America. At one time or another he owned three copies before finally securing one which met with his exacting standards of condition. Though a relatively common book, it is rarely found really fine, with uncracked hinges and perfect label. Osler said of it, "To the medical bibliographers there are few more treasured Americana than the brown-backed, poorly printed octavo volume of 280 pages with the imprint: Plattsburgh, 1833."
Oliver Wendell Holmes was a great favorite, and holdings include his first two medical works. The Library of Practical Medicine, Vol. VII (Boston, 1836) is the only recorded presentation copy and has a distinguished provenance, being the Wakeman-Wilson copy with an autograph letter with the rare signature "Oliver Wendell Holmes, M.D." inserted. The Boylston Prize Dissertations (Boston, 1838) is also inscribed. The famous The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever is present in its original appearance (Boston, 1843), while Border Lines of Knowledge in Some Provinces of Medical Science (Boston, 1862) is presented to James Russell Lowell.
It should be mentioned that Lilly was collecting at the same time, and in the same somewhat desultory way, milestone works in the history of science, with such emphasis as there was on mathematics. If desirable copies of important works came along, they were acquired, but no especial effort was made to seek them out.
In 1939 Scribner's published one of the first catalogues of its kind to appear in America: Science and Thought in the Nineteenth Century. In the "Introduction" to the catalogue, my Scribner associate, John Carter, who had assembled and annotated most of its contents, wrote as follows:
Of recent years, discriminating collectors have turned their attention increasingly to the first editions of those books which have in one way or another influenced the progress of science or the development of thought and human behavior. And what more natural and proper? The names of Volta and Ampère, of Faraday and Kelvin, commemorate by their everyday use the services of their owners to civilisation. Darwin and Freud have added adjectives to the language, and Karl Marx is more powerful today than when Das Kapital was first published.
The incurious and the hasty do not stop to ask why a volt is so called. The thoughtful man wonders, and finds out. The book collector goes further: he searches for the first appearance of Volta's epoch-making paper, from which every electric battery in the world today derives, and he treasures it for what it is— a cardinal document in the history of Progress.
Many of the great names, the historic books, in the history of science and thought are indeed sufficiently familiar. Any schoolboy will connect the atomic theory with the name of Dalton, the theory of the conservation of energy with that of Helmholtz; antiseptic surgery with Lister, Positivism with Comte, X-Rays with Röntgen, shorthand with Pitman, finger prints with Galton, or Zarathustra with Nietzsche. But there are many less obvious, though equally important landmarks; and others besides schoolboys might well be puzzled to say when was the first recorded case of appendicitis, what is the origin of the square root of minus one or the coefficient of friction, or who first distinguished proteins. Why is Plimsoll's Line so called? Who inaugurated modern methods of contraception? Who discovered Neanderthal Man, or the infra-red rays of the spectrum? Who coined such words as fluorescence and electron? Who was responsible for the modern system of food-canning, or the higher criticism, or the ticker-tape, or colloidal chemistry.
No one who has not dabbled in this kind of collecting can have any idea of the fascination of the search for facts and achievements, and their printed origins; the tracking down of a pregnant idea or train of philosophic thought to the mind that first conceived it. Hilaire Belloc once said of a favorite work that it was 'a book like a decisive battle'; but this phrase, a fine hyperbole when used of a piece of pure literature, might be applied with absolute literalness to dozens of books listed in the following pages.
We have endeavored to assemble here a representative selection of books and pamphlets illustrating the progress of science and thought in the nineteenth century. There are certain gaps, where some clew to the crucial book has eluded our researches, or where some desired item has proved unobtainable; but we believe that everything offered is significant in its field, whether by its direct relation to the world today or its influence upon the thought of its own and subsequent generations. This material is of a character, we believe, to attract the collector of vision, and to command the attention of those libraries and institutions which take the history of science and of thought for their province.
It was a modest catalogue, with modestly priced books (75 per cent of the items were under $25), but it sparked Lilly's imagination. In all his vast collecting career Lilly has been, above all, a "collector of vision." From this catalogue he acquired R. T. H. Laennec's De l'Auscultation Médiate (Paris, 1819), recording his invention of the stethoscope, two volumes in original wrappers, paper labels, $180, together with the much rarer first English translation by John Forbes (London, 1821—Garrison-Morton give 1834 as the date for the English translation, a rare error in this encyclopedic work); Henry Gray's Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical (London, 1858), which the catalogue accurately described as "a book rarely found in original condition," was purchased for $12 (the latest copy offered in trade was priced at £150). The famed Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace joint paper, On the Tendency of Species to form varieties; and on the Perpetuation of Species and Varieties by Natural Means of Selection, in its original appearance in the papers of "The Linnaean Society" (London, 1858), was acquired, with some reluctance, being rebound, for $60. It was later replaced by a perfect copy in original blue printed wrappers.
Fascination in books of this kind, which had influenced thought and the mind of man, grew upon Lilly as his interest in collecting literature lessened, as the writer recorded in his The J. K. Lilly Collection of Edgar Allan Poe, an Account of its Formation (Christmas, 1964). Just at this time clouds were gathering over the world and, until after 1945, he had little time or inclination for collecting anything. In 1947 Scribner's issued another catalogue, Science, Medicine, Economics, and from this he obtained some very good things, among them Georg Bartisch's Ophthalmodouleia: Das ist Augendienst . . . (Dresden, 1583), perhaps the most famous and lavishly illustrated of all the early books on eye surgery, original vellum, $335; Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica, second edition (Basel, 1555), in original calf, $350 (later replaced with a finer copy in original vellum) ; and Franz Anton Mesmer's Mémoire sur la Découverte du Magnétisme Animal (Geneva and Paris, 1779), $45.
It was at this time that he made a decision to go on to form a representative collection of the classic books in the history of medicine. But what were they? Everyone knew some of the great books and traditional rarities. Picking fifty or so of these items would be easy—getting them, of course, quite another matter.
Chief among the standard guide books at that time were Sir William Osler's massive volume recording his own library, Bibliotheca Osleriana (Oxford, 1919), and Garrison and Morton's Medical Bibliography. An Annotated Check-List of Texts Illustrating the History of Medicine (London, 1943). These were invaluable but much too comprehensive. Osler listed 7,783 items, Garrison, 5,506. Choulant-Frank's History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration (Chicago, 1920) was indispensable on a subject in which Lilly was especially interested and in which his collection is particularly rich. Francis R. Packard's History of Medicine in the United States (New York, 1931) was also useful.
What was needed but not available was a guide for the discriminating collector who was forming a personal, not a research, library. Lilly liked collecting by lists. He had acquired nearly all of the Grolier Club's One Hundred Books Famous in English Literature and A. Edward Newton's One Hundred Good Novels, and what he wanted was some similar guide to medical books.
Since one did not exist, he characteristically decided to have one created. There was considerable discussion of the best objective way to have this done. Lilly wryly related that he once requested a famous dealer to recommend a list of important works on another subject only to find that 95 per cent of the books suggested were reposing on the dealer's shelves. The choice finally fell on W. R. Le Fanu, Librarian, Royal College of Surgeons of England, who on request compiled a list of Two Hundred Key Books in the History of Medicine and Surgery. This distinguished librarian began his list with Johannes de Ketham's Fasciculus anatomiae (Venice, 1491) and ended it with Howard Florey's (and others') Antibiotics (Oxford, 1949). Le Fanu's list was drawn, correctly, with no consideration given to the availability of the recommended books and contained many of legendary rarity. Completion of the list was impossible, and even existing specialized libraries lacked a goodly number of titles. Included, for example, was the first edition of Marcello Malpighi's De Pulmonibus Observationes Anatomicae . . . (Bologna, 1661). So rare is this work that as recently as 1944 that eminent authority Professor F. J. Cole remarked in his History of Comparative Anatomy that no copy had ever been seen in England. Lilly had to content himself with the second edition (Hafniae, 1663), itself an uncommon book, there being no copy in the Harvey Cushing collection, while the one in the Osler library lacks two plates. But he was never quite happy with it.
Lilly set to work at quite a target. He had perhaps 15 per cent of the books on the list when it was formulated. How amazingly successful he was in less than a half decade is reflected by the fact that when he turned his library over to Indiana University in 1955 he had about 65 per cent in the editions specified and over 75 per cent in some form. For instance, for Cesar Lombroso's L'Uomo Delinquente (Milan, 1876), there had to be substituted the later edition (Rome, 1878), and for Ivan Petrovich Pavlov's Lectures ... on the principal digestive glands (St. Petersburg, 1897), its first translation (Berlin, 1898).
It should be emphasized that the "Le Fanu Two Hundred" by no means limited the collector merely to those works recommended. It simply acted as a guideline and general directive, and a very useful one, frequently bringing attention to significant works which would have been otherwise overlooked. If the recommended work could not be found, others representative of the author's achievements were sought. For example, Ambroise Paré's first work, La methode de traicter les playes (Paris, 1545), which was Le Fanu's choice to represent this great surgeon, proved unobtainable; but his Cinq Livres de Chirurgie (Paris, 1572) was acquired, richly bound in typical Lyonnaise style, probably for presentation. This has been called by several commentators Paré's chef-d'oeuvre, and Miss Doe, in her bibliography, comments upon its extraordinary rarity.
It is of interest to note that some of the most elusive works proved to be not the early rarities but those published in the last half of the nineteenth century. For example, Hugh Owen Thomas's Diseases of the Hip (Liverpool, 1875) and David Ferrier's The Functions of the Brain (London, 1876) never were obtained. There was no question of price involved and indeed, in most cases, it would then have been small. The books simply never appeared on the market. It should be remembered that works of this type, unlike literature, do not often find casual buyers who discard them after reading. They immediately pass into libraries or into the hands of specialists who hold on to them. Nor are they likely to be printed, in the first place, in large editions.
As the writer pointed out in discussing J. K. Lilly's formation of his Poe collection, he was lucky in his timing—collector's luck, if you wish. Though the great medical books were not then as available and as cheap as they had been a generation before, still they had not anywhere reached their present rarity, popularity, and price. One could still reasonably expect to have an offer of several decent copies of most desiderata within, say, a half decade, and at prices which would not require mortgaging one's home. This is no longer true. Also, a most important consideration was that there were some very knowledgeable contemporary bookdealers active in this field, experienced in both English and continental markets, who could supply material of the type wanted. The late Ernst Weil, from whom (though indirectly) Lilly obtained some of his best books, was an important source, as was the late Raphael King, and the cooperation of Percy Muir was invaluable. E. P. Goldschmidt and Davis & Orioli also supplied material. But by far the greatest part came from Scribner's.
Also, to use a felicitous medical phrase of Gordon Ray's, when writing recently of nineteenth-century literature, "prices had not yet been inflated to the point of dropsy." Lilly's entire expenditure on his medical collection was scarcely double the price of his first edition of Poe's Tamerlane (Boston, 1827), which was $25,000. Indeed, fewer than five books in the collection cost into four figures. Had he attempted to do in the decade following 1955 what he accomplished in the decade before then, it would have been proved impossible.
It might be mentioned that, though a generous buyer and seldom questioning a price if he wanted a book (though he often returned things on the grounds of condition) , Lilly invariably collected within a strict budget. He never gave a blanket order for any books on any list to be purchased as they appeared. His dealers, therefore, had to exercise discretion in the spending of funds allocated to them. In practice this meant that they offered him the uncommon books—those unlikely to appear on the market reasonably soon again—first. Generally it was on these books that a higher profit could be obtained, while the more common books which (one thought then) would always be available were often not offered at all—they could be sold next year if real rarities could not be obtained.
For example, in September, 1953, the writer sent ten desirable medical books for Mr. Lilly's consideration. With the letter was enclosed a clipping from an English dealer's catalogue offering a set of Richard Bright's Reports of Medical Cases . . . (1827-31) for £450, Lilly having purchased his set a few months before for $485 (a copy sold this year at auction for $3,500), a gentle reminder to the collector as to the moderation of Scribner prices.
Back came a typical answer.
This is a somewhat tardy reply to your letter of September 26 but I waited until the medical books came in and were catalogued before replying.
You will recall that earlier in the year I wrote you what my budget with the Scribner Book Store for 1953 would be. I have to report that with the present receipt of the ten medical books forwarded, we are now right on the button so please don't ship me anything else this year or at least not until after December 15 and then only with the proviso that the invoice may be settled during the first week in January of 1954. In this connection, I wish to proceed with the medical book want-list to the tune, as we go into the new year, of a budget of $10,000 so please don't commit me to any outlay beyond this sum until you hear from me further on the subject which may probably not be until late in 1954!
In view of the above I may not presently consider the other item mentioned in your letter of September 26.
Thank you so much, indeed, for your good offices—past, present, and future.
It is hoped that sometime reasonably soon a properly annotated account of his holdings in medicine will be printed. Meanwhile the writer lists a selection from them, limited to those he thinks are, for one reason or another—importance, rarity, bibliographical interest, condition, association, etc.—of especial interest.
It should be noted that, with two exceptions, all books mentioned in the catalogue are from J. K. Lilly's personal collection. This has since been greatly augmented by purchase and gift. The exceptions are the George A. Poole, Jr., copy of Rabanus Maurus' De sermonum proprietate, sen de universo (Strassburg, 1467?), the earliest known printed book to include a section dealing with medicine. Also Johannes de Ketham's Fasciculus Medicinae (Venice, 5 Feb. 1493-4), the first Italian edition, noted for its fine wood engravings, the first anatomic illustrations of any kind in any incunabula. This is the Dyson Perrins copy with bookplate and notes in his hand.
The Bernardo Mendel collection of Latin Americana included a fine collection of early medical books from "south of the border," beginning with Alonso de la Vera Cruz's Phisica Speculatio (Mexico City, 1555), the first scientific work published in the New World. And there have been many individual purchases. Henri Dunant's privately printed and very rare Un Souvenir de Solférino (Geneva, 1862), which was directly responsible for the founding of the International Red Cross Society and for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, is the most recent.
A notable gift was that of the very comprehensive medico-historical collection formed by the late Dr. Edgar F. Kiser, who was closely associated for many years with the University's School of Medicine. Presented by Dr. and Mrs. Bernard D. Rosenak, Indianapolis, and Mr. and Mrs. Herman P. Anspach, Highland Park, Illinois, and especially rich in early American and Indiana rarities, this beautifully complemented Lilly's holdings. It included a notable lot of the works of Beaumont, including a presentation copy of the Observations; a presentation copy of Daniel Drake's On the Principal Diseases of the Interior Valley of North America (Cincinnati, 1850-55); and the first two medical books printed in Indiana, Dr. S. H. Selman's The Indian Guide to Health (Columbus, Ind., 1836), and Buell Eastman's A Practical Treatise on Diseases Peculiar to Women and Girls (Connersville, 1845). Both works are examples of the familiar "family physician" and abound in frontier medical lore, and both are uncommon, Byrd-Peckham (Indiana Imprints) locating five copies of the former and three of the latter.
However, no books from such sources are included in the following catalogue (except the two Poole incunabula), and to that extent it does not give a true picture of the Lilly Library's current holdings in this subject. The fact that some important book is not recorded does not mean that the Library does not have it, as witness those listed above: it simply means that Mr. Lilly did not possess it. But without the books recorded here the Library could scarcely claim to have a significant collection at all.
Formal collations are not usually given, as this is not a bibliography but simply a report on one aspect of a many-sided collector's interests. It should be emphasized that Lilly chose every one of these books personally, rejecting many more than he ever accepted. The notes may, in some cases, read as though they were taken from booksellers' descriptions. If so, that's sometimes what they are! All books referred to are first editions, unless otherwise specified. The census of known copies, occasionally given, is from standard sources and is probably in some cases already changed.
David A. Randall
Librarian, Lilly Library
Subject entries have been made only for those subjects to which a separate section of the catalogue is devoted. Number references are to catalogue order, and not to pages. Titles without headings have number references in text.
- Addison, Thomas. 163
- Albee, Fred H. 187
- Albinus, Bernhard Siegfried. 101
- Anaesthesia. 145 - 156
- Anatomical Color Printing. 101 - 103
- Anderloni, Faustino. 119
- Andry, Nicolas. 71
- Arnaldus de Villa Nova. 14
- Aselli, Gasparo. 58
- Avicenna. 7
- Back, James De. 61
- Baglivi, Giorgio. 89
- Baillie, Matthew. 115, 116
- Baker, George. 45
- Banting, Frederick G. 188, 189
- Barbatus, Hieronymus. 83
- Bartholin, Thomas. 67
- Bartisch, Georg. 46
- Barton, Benjamin Smith. 125
- Barton, W.P.C. 132
- Bateman, Thomas. 126
- Beaumont, William. 135
- Bell, Sir Charles. 127, 128
- Bellini, Gentile. 2
- Bennett, Byron L. 195
- Bernard, Claude. 157, 158, 159
- Bert, Paul. 175
- Best, Charles H. 188
- Bichat, M.F.X. 123
- Bigelow, Henry Jacob. 145 - 148
- Bigelow, Jacob. 25, 132
- Boerhaave, Hermann. 94, 95
- Bontius, Jacobus. 64
- Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. 145, 146
- Boyle, Robert. 86
- Briggs, William. 48
- Bright, Richard. 136
- Bright, Timothy. 54
- Brown, William. 22
- Bucretius, Daniel. 59
- Cadogan, William. 70
- Carswell, Robert. 141
- Casserio, Giulio. 56, 59
- Cesalpino, Andrea. 62
- Chain, Ernest. 193, 194
- Channing, Walter. 151
- Charcot, Jean Martin. 178
- Classic Masters. 3 - 7
- Clift, William. 116
- Cotugno, Domenico. 107
- Cruikshank, William. 110
- Culpeper, Nicholas. 20
- Cushing, Harvey. 185
- Darwin, Charles R. 114
- Dentistry. 98 - 100
- Descartes, René. 75
- Donders, Frans Cornelis. 52
- Drake, Daniel. 162
- Duverney, L. 102
- Ehrlich, Paul. 13
- Elyot, Sir Thomas. 14
- Embryology. 27 - 38
- Eustachius, Bartholomaeus. 96
- Fabricius ab Aquapendente, Hieronymus. 57
- Falloppio, Gabriele. 39
- Fauchard, Pierre. 98
- Fialetti, Odoardo. 59
- Flagg, Josiah Foster. 130
- Fleming, Sir Alexander. 193, 194
- Florey, Howard W. 193, 194
- Flourens, M.J.P. 134
- Fracastoro, Girolamo. 9, 18
- Frampton, John. 43
- Franco, Pierre. 40
- Franklin, Benjamin. 122
- Freud, Sigmund. 183
- Funk, Casimir. 186
- Galen. 3, 5, 6
- Gautier D'Agoty, A.E. 103
- Gautier D'Agoty, J.F. 102
- Geminus, Thomas. 17
- Gersdorff, Hans von. 8
- Gerson, Johannes. 1
- Gesner, Conrad. 45
- Glisson, Francis. 74
- Graaf, Regner de. 32
- Graefe, Albrecht von. 53
- Gray, Asa. 139
- Gray, Henry. 164
- Guidi, Guido. 6
- Guillemeau, Jacques. 47
- Gynecology. 27 - 38
- Hales, Stephen. 97
- Harington, Sir John. 14
- Harris, Walter. 69
- Hartford Courant. 148
- Harvey, William. 29, 60, 61
- Hata, Sahachiro. 13
- Heberden, William. 21
- Helmholtz, H.L.F. von. 50
- Helmont, J.B. van. 65
- Hernia. 40, 41
- Highmore, Nathaniel. 66
- Hilton, John. 170
- Hippocrates. 3, 4, 6
- Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Sr. 36
- Holt, Luther Emmett. 73
- Hrabanus Maurus. 1
- Hunter, John. 11, 99, 111, 112
- Hunter, William. 34
- Hutten, Ulrich. 10
- Hyrtl, Josef. 144
- Insulin. 188, 189
- Jackson, Charles T. 152; elsewhere in Anaesthesia, 145 - 156
- Jadelot, Nicolas. 103
- Jenner, Edward. 120
- Johannes de Ketham. See Ketham
- Ketham, Johannes de. 2
- Ladmiral, Jan. 101
- Laennec, R.T.H. 133
- Lancisius, J.M. 93, 96
- Larrey, Dominique Jean. 129
- Laurentianus, Laurentius. 3
- Laveran, C.L.A. 179
- Leeuwenhoek, Anton van. 88
- Lewis, James. 195
- Lilly, Eli. 189
- Lilly Company, Eli. 26, 189, 195
- Lind, James. 105
- Lister, Joseph. 173, 174
- Long, Crawford W. See Anaesthesia, 145 - 156
- Louis, P.C.A. 138
- Lovell, Joseph. 135
- Lower, Richard. 84
- Macewen, William. 177
- Macleod, John J.R. 188, 189
- Magnus, Rudolph. 190
- Malpighi, Marcello. 82
- Manilius, Sebastianus. 2
- Massachusetts Medical Society, Pharmacopoeia, of. 23
- Maurer, Joseph (or Josias). 56
- Mauriceau, Francois. 31
- Mayow, John. 85
- Mesmer, Franz Anton. 108
- Metchnikoff, Elie. 179
- Monardes, Nicolas de. 42, 43
- Morgagni, Giovanni Battista. 106
- Morton, William T.G. See Anaesthesia, 145 - 156
- Muller, Hermann J. 191, 192
- Mundinus. 2
- Naegele, Franz Karl. 35
- Needham, Marchamont. 81
- Needham, Walter. 30
- Nightingale, Florence. 165166
- Obstetrics. 27 - 38
- Ophthalmology. 46 - 53
- Oribasius. 6
- Osler, Sir William. 176
- Owen, Richard. 100
- Paré, Ambroise. 44
- Parkinson, James. 131
- Pascoli, Alessandro. 89
- Pasteur, Louis. 168
- Pavlov, J.P. 180
- Paynell, Thomas. 10, 14
- Pediatrics. 68 - 73
- Pemell, Robert. 68
- Perrins, Dyson. 2
- Pharmacopoeia Londinensis. 20, 21
- Pharmacopoeias. 19 - 26
- Pinel, Philippe. 124
- Pirquet, Clemens Peter. 184
- Pitres, Jean Albert. 178
- Porcher, Francis Peyre. 171, 172
- Pordage, Samuel. 80
- Pott, Percival. 41
- Primaticcio, F. 6
- Purkinje, Johann. 51
- Rabanus Maurus. See Hrabanus
- Rafinesque, C.S. 137
- Ramazzini, Bernardino. 90
- Redi, Francesco. 78
- Regimen Sanitatis Salerni. 14
- Ricettario dell' Arte. ... 19
- Ricord, Phillippe. 12
- Rindfleisch, Daniel. See Bucretius
- Riolan (or Riolanus), Jean. 61, 67
- Rogers, Bruce. 26
- Rokitansky, Carl. 143
- Rueff, Jacob. 27, 28
- Rush, Benjamin. 117, 118
- Ruysch, Frederik. 91, 101
- Saint-Yves, Charles de. 49
- Salk, Jonas E. 195
- Scarpa, Antonio. 119
- Schuyl, Florentio. 75
- Schwann, Theodor. 142
- Semmelweis, Ignaz Phillip. 37
- Severino, Marco Aurelio. 63
- Simpson, Sir James Y. 153, 154
- Sims, J. Marion. 38
- Smellie, William. 33
- Snow, John. 155, 156, 160, 161
- Spigelius, Adrian. 59
- Steno, Nicolaus. 76, 77
- Stensen, Niels. See Steno
- Stokes, William. 140
- Tagliacozzi, Gasparo. 55
- Tate, Nahum. 9
- Thompson, Morton. 37
- Toynbee, Joseph. 168
- United States of America, Pharmacopoeia of. 24
- Underwood, Michael. 72
- Vaccination. 120 - 122
- Valsalva, Antonio Maria. 92
- Venereal Disease. 9 - 13
- Vesalius, Andreas. 15, 16, 17
- Vidius. See Guidi
- Vieussens, Raymond. 87
- Virchow, Rudolf. 167
- Warren, John C. 130, 145, 149, 150
- Waterhouse, Benjamin. 121
- Wells, Horace. See Anaesthesia, 145 - 156
- Wells, William Charles. 113, 114
- Wenckebach, Karel F. 182
- Whytt, Robert. 104
- Willan, Robert. 126
- Willis, Thomas. 79, 80
- Withering, William. 109
- Wright, John S. 26
- Youngner, J.S. 195
- Zacharias Chrysopolitanus. 1
Bound with, and following: Zacharius Chrysopolitanus. [Concordantia evangelistarum. Strassburg, 1473.] Two works in one vol., folio, early blind-stamped leather with bosses and portions of stamped leather clasps. Tall copies with wide margins, both works with initials painted in red throughout. The Hrabanus lacks the initial blank leaf, but the two terminal blanks are present and genuine. Editio princeps of both books.
Lilly Library call number: BR 65 .Z3 vault
Hrabanus' encyclopedic dictionary is the first printed book to have a specific section devoted entirely to medicine. It shares the honors of medical printing priority with a single-sheet Laxierkalendar assigned to 1457, and with Gerson's short tract De pollutione nocturna, considered to be on a medical subject although largely theological in treatment, which is assigned by Goff to "about 1466."
Hrabanus, a pupil of Alcuin, became Abbot of Fulda and later Bishop of Mainz. He was born about 776 A.D. and died in 856; his lifetime's labors as teacher, divine, and author earned him the sobriquet of Primus Praeceptor Germaniae, "first teacher of Germany." He is credited with the authorship of the hymn, Veni Creator.
Folio in sixes (a-h6 i4), old vellum. 9 full-page woodcuts, 1 full-page schema on uroscopy. Goff K 17, one of six copies located. The others are at Huntington, New York Public, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pierpont Morgan, and Yale.
Lilly Library call number: R 128.6 .K4 1493
The second edition of the first printed book ever to have anatomical illustrations. The first edition, printed by the same printers in 1491, was in the original Latin; the present translation is by Sebastianus Manilius. The text is a compilation of short medical treatises on uroscopy, women's diseases, the plague, and other matters, but the great value and interest of the book lies in its illustrations, probably done by Gentile Bellini. It contains one of four known examples of multicolor printing produced prior to the sixteenth century.
Choulant describes the plates at great length, pp. 116-19, but the copy he used lacked d , on the recto of which appears the figure of a woman with her thoracic and abdominal cavities cut open. The two later plates in the book [e 2 recto and f 2 verso] do not occur in the first edition. That on e 2 recto depicts a patient being examined for the plague, the physician holding a sponge before his mouth and feeling the patient's pulse. The plate on f 2 verso (illustrated in this catalogue) precedes the Anatomia of Mundinus, appended here to the Fasciculus as usual. In the present copy this plate has been overprinted in red, black, olive, and yellow, off register (mostly to the right) and waterstained; certain areas have been retouched by hand with an overlaying wash of brown.
The present copy is from the Dyson Perrins collection and sold in 1947 for £320. Of the first edition, 1491, Goff records four copies: Huntington, Boston Medical, Yale, and the then privately owned Louis Silver copy. This appeared recently at the Newberry Library sale of duplicate and surplus material and brought $26,600, the highest price ever paid for a medical work and within half of what Lilly spent on his entire collection.
THE CLASSIC MASTERS: Nos. 3-7
Folio, modern half calf, initial blank present and genuine.
Lilly Library call number: R 126 .H6 A65 1494 vault
The editio princeps of the aphorisms of "the Father of Medicine," in the Latin translation of Laurentius Laurentianus; one of four copies in America. The text of the aphorisms is followed by Laurentianus's Latin translation of the lengthy commentary by Galen, thus including in one book the work of the two most famous names in Graeco-Roman medicine.
4to, old half vellum.
Lilly Library call number: R 126 .H51 1525
This is the first complete appearance in print of what Osler called the corpus Hippocraticum, the collective doctrine of the greatest physician of the ancient world. Translated and edited by Fabio Calvi of Ravenna and dedicated to Pope Clement VII, it preceded the Aldine Greek text by a year. At p. XXXI appears the Hippocratic Oath, beginning, "I swear by Apollo, Physician, and Asklepios and Hygeiea and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witness, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant." This oath is still administered on conferring the degree of Medicinae Doctor, often with the prefatory injunction, "Let each man swear by that which to him is sacred."
5 vols., folio, contemporary brown calf.
Lilly Library call number: R 126 .G3 1525
First printed edition of Galen's works in the original Greek. At the time when printing first attained general acceptance and commercial importance, medical science was completely dominated by the Galenic tradition, just as biology was by that of Aristotle. It was natural, therefore, that the work of these great masters, which had come to occupy in the scientific world a position hardly less important than Holy Writ, should have been constantly printed and reprinted.
Folio, old calf. Many woodcuts, some full-page.
Lilly Library call number: R 126 .A1 G9 vault
The translator, Guidi, was physician to Francis I of France. This book prints for the first time the Greek surgical texts of Hippocrates, Galen, and Oribasius, in Latin translation. The text is based on ancient manuscripts of the Greek originals in the Laurentian Library at Florence.
There is no doubt that the extraordinarily fine illustrations go back to the classic models and therefore display for us the true Hippocratic principles of surgical practice as preserved by the Byzantine Greeks. The woodcuts are after designs by F. Primaticcio, an Italian Renaissance artist, who in turn was inspired by the figures in the manuscripts. François Jollat has been suggested as the engraver.
2 vols., folio, old vellum, uncut. The above title is taken from the added Latin title page, which is laid in loose behind the regular Arabic title (at the back of Vol. I, since the Arabic text reads from the back forward). With the bookplate of the Prince of Liechtenstein.
Lilly Library call number: R 128.3 .A9 vault
The most famous physician and theorist of the later Middle Ages, Abu Ali al Husain ibn Abdullah ibn Sina, known as Avicenna, was born near Bokhara in 980 A.D. and died in 1037. He was the author of about one hundred treatises, most of them short; but "the best known among them, and that to which Avicenna owed his European reputation, is the Canon of Medicine, of which an Arabic edition appeared at Rome in 1593. From the 12th to the 17th century, Avicenna was the guide of medical study in European universities, and up to the year 1650 or thereabouts the Canon was still used as a textbook at Louvain and Montpellier" (Encyclopaedia Britannica).
"His Canon," says Garrison-Morton, "is the most famous medical textbook ever written. Of it Neuberger says, 'It stands for the epitome of all precedent development, the final certification of all Graeco-Arabic medicine.' "
Avicenna's great treatise was normally studied, during the Renaissance, in the Latin translation by Gherardo of Cremona, first published at Strassburg (before 1473) and frequently reprinted. This is the editio princeps of the Arabic text.
4to, contemporary calf. 27 full- or half-page woodcuts, one folding.
Lilly Library call number: RD 30 .G4 vault
This work contains the first picture of an amputation ever printed, according to Garrison, as well as many other instructive pictures of early surgical procedures. Gersdorff later opposed Paré's abandonment of boiling oil for the cauterization of wounds.
Collates:  LXXXIV ff., 1 folding plate; a4 A-O6. Apparently the undated issue reported in Bibliotheca Walleriana 3506, there described as "[Strassburg, J. Schott, 1517.]" without cited authority and probably later. BMC (Vol. 85, col. 59) records the folio issue of 95 leaves with imprint and date 1517. The folding plate is the skeleton described by Choulant (pp. 162-63), with Schott's mark but without the date or printed matter above the plate; the visceral plate (folio XII verso) is that described by Choulant at p. 165, full-length, with date 1517 in lower left corner.
VENEREAL DISEASE Nos. 9-13
Lilly Library call number: RC 201 .A2 F7 1531
The most famous of medical poems. It epitomized contemporary knowledge of syphilis, gave it its present name, and recognized a venereal cause. Mercury was advised as a remedy.
The poem was often reprinted and was made the subject of a handlist and a bibliography in the 1930's. The first complete English translation was by Nahum Tate (1686), later Poet Laureate.
Of special interest and rarity in this field is Thomas Paynell's translation of Ulrich Hutten's De Morbo Gallico (1519) under the title Of the Wood Called Guaiacum that healeth the frenche pockes, and also helpeth the goute in the feete ..., published in London in 1540 (No.10—RC 200.6 .H9 1540).
Von Hutten, one of the most distinguished scholars and poets of the German Renaissance, suffered from syphilis. He tells in the first person of his many attempts to cure himself before he discovered guaiacum wood, which came from "that place where the langth of Amerike, stretchynge to the Northe, doth end." So efficacious was it considered in the cure of syphilis that, to quote the present work, "the physicions wolde not allowe it, perceyvynge that thyre profit wolde decay thereby."
In the early Tudor prose of Thomas Paynell, canon of Martin Abbey, the translation has a character and charm difficult to communicate. In his preface he tells of his diffidence in attempting the translation of "that greate clerke of Almayne," being persuaded by the printer only because of the good which might come of it.
Among other works in the Lilly Library on the subject is a fine copy of John Hunter's A Treatise on The Venereal Disease (London, 1786), uncut, in modern half calf (No. 11—RC 201 .H9 1786). "Hunter inoculated himself with matter taken from a gonorrheal patient who, unknown to Hunter, also had syphilis. Hunter contracted the latter disease and maintained that gonorrhea and syphilis were caused by a single pathogen. Backed by the weight of Hunter's authority, this experiment retarded the development of knowledge regarding the two diseases"—Garrison-Morton. Phillippe Ricord's Traité Pratique des Maladies Vénériennes (Paris, 1838) records a repetition of Hunter's experiment which proved that the two diseases were different (No. 12—RC 201 .R55).
Paul Ehrlich and Sahachiro Hata, in Die experimentelle Chemotherapie der Spirillosen (Berlin, 1910), after many experiments in the action of synthetic drugs upon spirochetal diseases, announced the discovery of salvarsan ("606"), specific in the treatment of syphilis and yaws (No. 13—RC 112 .E33 E96 1910).
4to, old blind-tooled calf, rebacked.
Lilly Library call number: RA 775 .E5 vault
The earliest edition of The Castel of Helthe extent, no copy of a putative 1534 edition every having been located. The STC locates only the British Museum copy of the present edition.
Elyot was one of the most learned Englishmen of the time of Henry VIII. The book is a medical treatise on various ailments, and the author gives an account of the disorders from which he himself suffered. It remained popular until the end of the sixteenth century, but the fact that it was written in English by one who was not a doctor aroused much wrath on the part of the medical profession. Perhaps that is why it is not in Garrison or many other standard histories of medicine to this day.
The Regimen is present in the third printing of Paynell's translation and again the STC locates only the British Museum copy. Of the first edition only one copy is recorded; of the second, three. This famous medieval Latin poem of rhymed medical advice is the most interesting medical work associated with the School of Salerno. In this first English translation only the commentary was translated; the first published English version of the verses was by Sir John Harington, London, 1607.
Folio, contemporary blind-stamped vellum, with brass clasps. Size 42 x 28 cm. With inserted double leaf in signature m; this double leaf and m 3 in on stubs.
Lilly Library call number: QM 25 .V5 1543
"By this epoch-making work Vesalius, the 'Father of Modern Anatomy,' prepared the way for the rebirth of physiology by Harvey. More important still, he undermined the widespread reverence for authority in science and prepared the way for independent observation in anatomy and clinical science. The publication of this work was the greatest event in medical history since the work of Galen. It ranks second only to Harvey's De motu cordis in importance"—Garrison-Morton, 375.
Fulton, a great admirer of Vesalius, reminds us, however, that "as a book, the Fabrica has probably been more admired and less read than any publication of equal significance in the history of science." He also comments that the edition must have been very large as he had records of 33 copies in America alone. Cushing records that he had "for several years kept measurements of the better known copies" and lists only three larger copies than the present, the largest being 43.4 x 29.2 cm.
The ANDREAS VESALIUS. De Humani corporis fabrica Libri septem. second edition (Basel, 1555) is also present (No. 16—QM 25 .V5 1555). According to Garrison, it is "much the better worth having ... the beautiful typography of Oporinus appears in enlarged font, the faulty pagination and index of 1543 are corrected and improved, the text is improved and more scientific." Fulton states, however, that the alterations were comparatively unimportant, though conceding that the second edition is a "still more sumptuous volume than that issued in 1543" and concluding that "the printer's termagant wife could scarcely have favored it."
The Lilly copy is in contemporary vellum, with brass clasps, and the binding is dated 1570. This beautiful copy measures 41.5 x 27.5 cm., .5 cm. each way under the 1543 copy; together, they make a gorgeous pair. Signature X is in three leaves as in Cushing, the double leaf inserted on a stub and X 3, with figures to be superimposed, intact.
The first edition published in England (No. 17—QM 25 .G32 1545) is entitled Compendiosa totius Anatomie delineatio aere exarata: per Thomam Geminum (London, 1545). It consists of 45 leaves of text and 40 plates and was completely unauthorized. Geminus had the woodcuts of Vesalius engraved on copper for this work, which is a splendid production and further distinguished as one of the first English books to contain copperplates. It is a much rarer book than either of the Basel editions and the Lilly copy is a fine one in contemporary blind-rolled binding, probably of English origin.
4to, full vellum.
Lilly Library call number: RC 111 .F8
This book represents a landmark in the development of our knowledge of infectious diseases, the author anticipating the germ theory of disease. "De contagione ... contains three contributions of the first importance. A clear statement of the problems of contagion and infection, a recognition of typhoid fever, and a remarkable pronouncement on the contagiousness of phthisis." The quotation is from Osler's Alabama Student.
PHARMACOPOEIAS Nos. 19-26
Folio, vellum, entirely uncut, with the blank leaf O 4 and the errata leaf S 2. The two final leaves carry a fine woodcut of the Virgin (S 3) and a cut of the Medici arms (S 4) repeated from the title page.
Lilly Library call number: RS 141.Y6 F6
The Florentine Pharmacopoeia, the first European work of its kind, was compiled by order of the Duke of Florence and exhibits a very high standard of pharmaceutical knowledge. It became official in 1573 for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and later for other Italian states.
Of the first edition of 1498, which was legal only for the city-state of Florence, two copies have survived (British Museum, Bibl. Naz. Rome).
Folio, contemporary calf; frontispiece portrait of the author.
Lilly Library call number: RS 151.3 .C85 1653
The first edition under this title of Culpeper's unauthorized translation of the College of Physicians' Pharmacopoeia of 1618. It was first printed in 1649 with the title "A Physicall Directory." The medical fraternity did not approve and, doubtless by their inspiration, it was referred to in a public print as "done (very filthily) into English [by one who] by two yeeres of drunken labour hath Gallimawfred the apothecaries book into nonsense ... And (to supply his drunkenness and leachery with a thirty shilling reward) endeavoured to bring into obloquy the famous societies of apothecaries and chyrurgeons" —DNB. The work was enormously successful, five editions appearing before 1698; it was reissued as late as 1809.
The Lilly Library also has the first London Pharmacopoeia done on purely scientific principles (No. 21—RS 141.3 .R88 1746), compiled for the Royal College of Physicians by William Heberden (London, 1746). All its predecessors, according to Garrison, "were disfigured by the retention of the usual vile and unsavoury ingredients, which were not thrown out until William Heberden made an onslaught on these superstitions."
Traditions & Culture of Collecting Articles by and about Collectors, Librarians, and Booksellers
Collecting Rare Medical Books: A Dealer’s Perspective Jeremy M. Norman
Originally published in Medical Heritage, July, September, November, 1985.
I. Collectors Past and Present
The beauty, historical and scientific importance, romance, and monetary value of rare medical books, as well as their mystique, have an appeal difficult to resist. The modern penchant for collecting first and early editions of the classics of medical history began with Sir William Osler (1849-1919), a confirmed bibliophile and collector, whose spectacular 7600-volume library was bequeathed to McGill University. Later, notable historical medical libraries were assembled and donated to universities by Harvey Cushing (1869-1939, Yale), John F. Fulton (1899-1960, Yale), Erik Waller (1875-1955, University of Upsala, Sweden), Lawrence Reynolds (1889-1961, University of Alabama, Birmingham), John A. Benjamin (University of California, Los Angeles), and most recently, John Martin (University of Iowa). With the exception of Fulton’s, these libraries have all been described in bibliographical catalogs. Several smaller collections emphasizing medicine but also containing classics in other sciences were assembled by Herbert M. Evans (1882-1971, discoverer of vitamin E, and the growth hormone of the anterior pituitary) and sold to institutional libraries. None of these collections was described in a published catalog except one sold to the Denver Medical Society. That collection was described in an auction catalog when it was sold by Swann Galleries in 1975.
On a grander scale, Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936), founder of Burroughs, Wellcome & Co., collected artifacts, books, and manuscripts documenting the history of medicine throughout the world. In 1913 he created the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum and in 1924, the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London. This is the most important research center and museum of the history of medicine in Europe, although many older institutions, such as the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, contain spectacular holdings on this subject. A three-volume catalog of the Western manuscript holdings of the Wellcome Library has been published, as have the first three volumes of its catalog of Western printed books.
Another library created by a pharmaceutical magnate is the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana, Bloomington, founded by Josiah Kirby Lilly. The Lilly Library is a comprehensive rare book and manuscript library with important holdings in many fields. It contains a choice collection of landmarks in medical history, some of which have been described and illustrated in an entertaining but scholarly volume by W. R. LeFanu entitled Notable Medical Books (1976).
Among the most important of the American libraries is the Boston Medical Library in the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard. The historical richness of this fabulous hoard of books, manuscripts, and art works is the result of the amalgamation of numerous important private collections donated over the centuries, together with the active collecting of institutional librarians and curators. Equally important are the vast holdings of the National Library of Medicine at Bethesda, Maryland, which have been built more through expert government acquisition than through donation. A library that deserves a published catalog is the Owen H. Wangensteen Library of the History of Biology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Emphasizing the history of surgery, this collection was developed through the efforts of Wangensteen and an exceptionally able curator. A more specialized but exhaustive collection of rare books, manuscripts, artworks, and scientific instruments documenting the history of electrophysiology and electrotherapy was amassed by Earl A. Bakken, founder of Medtronic, Inc., and donated to the Bakken Library of Electricity in Life, also established in Minneapolis in 1976. The late Truman G. Blocker, Jr., President of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, created in that institution the most important library of the history of medicine in the Southwest. The holdings of the University of California at San Francisco, important for both Eastern and Western medicine, were built largely through the efforts of J. B. de C. M. Saunders when he was Chancellor of the medical school.
I do not want to give the impression that collecting is strictly a pastime for institutions. The exact opposite is true. As a dealer, I estimate that only 20 per cent of my clients are libraries or museums. Some institutions may be major buyers in a given year, but most of my clients are private collectors. I have mentioned the libraries both to show you where you can consult some of the greatest rarities in medical literature and to offer a historical perspective on collecting, since most, if not all, of the institutions’ collections mentioned were built at least partly from the private collections of the past.
Who are the private collectors of today? My clients need not fear for their privacy as it is my firm rule not to divulge the names, interests, or purchases of any private customer without specific instructions. In general, however, the collecting of rare medical books follows the geography and economics of medical practice. With the tendency toward specialization today, most of my clients are specialists, and they tend to collect in the areas of their specialties. Also, because of the scarcity of truly desirable classic books and because of their continually escalating costs, the days of comprehensive collections like those formed by Osler, Cushing and Waller, documenting the entire history of medicine, are almost gone. I say almost; given enough money and plenty of patience one could still build a major library documenting the history of medicine from virtually the Middle Ages to the present. The problem is that few private physicians would be able to spend the millions of dollars that this would require today. Instead, most eventually limit the scopes of their libraries to develop depth in their specialties.
We have clients in nearly every one of the 50 states, as well as in Canada, England, Scotland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Israel, Syria, South Africa, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong. The great majority of collectors are in the United States, however, and, following the geography of medical practice, we tend to have the most clients where there are the most physicians, i.e., on the East and West coasts, and in major metropolitan areas. Many are affiliated with medical schools; others are in private practice. Specialties in which collecting is currently popular include neurology and neurosurgery, ophthalmology, cardiology, dermatology, orthopedics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, pathology, plastic surgery, general surgery, otolaryngology, urology, and psychiatry. To my knowledge there is only one specialty in which I have failed to develop a single client-proctology. This is in spite of a well-known classic history of the specialty published in 1938 by C. E. Blanchard and ironically entitled The Romance of Proctology!
The average age of my clients seems to have gradually diminished during the 14 years in which I have been in business. When I started my firm I was 25 years old and it seemed that most of my clients were in their sixties. Now I am older, of course, but I am surprised by how many new clients in their thirties and forties we are working with, in addition to our older and more established clients. There have been very few women collectors, but as more women graduate from medical schools, I expect the number of women collectors to increase.back to table of contents
II. Where to Buy Rare Medical Books
As experienced collectors know, it is possible to find bargains at flea markets and secondhand book stores, but the chance of making a significant find in this way is remote. Today important early medical books are widely perceived as being valuable and if any turn up at a flea market or country antique show they are generally snapped up by professional book scouts and promptly offered to specialist rare book dealers. What you usually find at the country shows and secondhand dealers is second- or third-rate material. Nevertheless, many collectors enjoy browsing through country book barns and rural antique shops. If they make a good find in one out of ten weekend junkets they are satisfied.
Another dubious approach to collecting is for the private collector to buy personally at auction. There is a widespread misbelief among novice collectors that all auction purchases are bargains. Certainly many important medical books change hands at major auctions, but the great majority of the significant books sold are purchased by dealers, either for resale or as agents for clients. From long experience I can tell you that you are unlikely to be successful in purchasing the most desirable books sold in the auction of a medical library if you attempt to bid against the major dealers. Certainly they will let you buy some of the less desirable items, but to acquire the best you may have to pay more than the retail value in order to prevail.
If you want to collect rare medical books, the most effective approach is to call, write, or visit a rare book dealer who specializes in them. Many dealers issue catalogs to facilitate business by mail. I have made a specialty of advising beginning collectors, and am always willing to answer questions or to give suggestions. The rare books librarian at your medical school can provide the names of reputable booksellers. The Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, 50 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10020, can supply you with a free membership directory listing professional booksellers specializing in the history of medicine.
III. Why Collect
Collecting rare medical books appeals to physicians for various reasons. For the professional or amateur medical historian rare books on the history of medicine are the source material of history. A few of my clients have published books on medical history, and a larger number have published articles on historical facets of their specialties or have used historical illustrations in lectures and scientific papers. Most collectors, however, are not historians but history enthusiasts. In a time of rapid scientific change they gain perspective from studying the history of medicine.
Collectors also enjoy the challenge and excitement of building libraries of rare, important and often beautiful books in their fields, knowing that they own books which few other collectors have regardless of price. Some collectors gain personal satisfaction from preserving valuable historical objects and records for posterity. Others enjoy membership in prestigious book collectors’ clubs which have been established in most major cities in America. The most accomplished collectors active today, however, seem to gain the most satisfaction from building libraries in the great tradition established in our century by Osler and Cushing. Such a library is an achievement to be realized only by an elite few.
One aspect of book collecting that I am always asked about is collecting books for investment purposes. My first response to this is always that I am a rare book dealer and not an investment counselor. I sell rare books for their current fair market value and cannot predict the future. Nevertheless, in a period of sporadic inflation such as we are now experiencing, fine copies of rare books have had considerable success as inflation hedges. Some have greatly outpaced inflation. The problem with the investment approach, however, is that rare books, like other collectibles, pay no cash dividends, and are relatively unliquid. The dividends they pay are in the pleasure of ownership. In order to make a profit one must also be able to afford to hold them until the appropriate time to sell. Furthermore, it takes a few years for a collector to learn enough about the rare book market to make really informed investment decisions. In my experience only a collector who gets satisfaction from the collecting experience itself will stay with the hobby long enough to profit from it financially.
IV. What to Collect
Although many of the greatest tangible rarities in the history of medicine reside permanently in institutional libraries, I still maintain that it would be possible to collect virtually any aspect of medical history given enough patience and sufficient funds. It is also possible to build an interesting library on a relatively modest budget.
Beginning collectors frequently ask me what they should collect, and I always point out that book collecting is a personal hobby-you should collect what interests you the most. You should explore which subjects will give you the most enjoyment, and you should also play the game by the rules. First, how to define your interests. If you are uncertain exactly where your interests lie, read some medical history. You can move from the general to the specific by reading a comprehensive and standard history such as Garrison’s History of Medicine (1929 and subsequent reprints) or Singer and Underwood’s A Short History of Medicine (1962). The first is an indispensable and readily available reference work for any historian or collector. The second is more readable, but alas, it is out of print.
If you know you want to collect on a certain subject in medicine, identify some of the specialized histories of your subject and study them. Some of these may be difficult to obtain collector’s items in themselves. I always urge my clients to build comprehensive reference libraries on the subject of their interest. This will help them make the most informed decisions on which rare books to add to their collections.
Beginning or experienced collectors always get ideas from studying the published catalogs of other medical libraries, especially those formed by private collectors whom they respect. Some of the catalogs to consult first are the Bibliotheca Osleriana (1929), the Bibliotheca Walleriana (2 vols., 1955), the Catalogue of the Harvey Cushing Collection (1943), and Heirs of Hippocrates (1980).
If you think you want to build your library around the works of particular great physicians whom you admire, read some biographies of these men. Try to find out whether their writings have been collected before and whether a good author bibliography is available.
Finally, learn the rules of the book collecting game. Carter’s ABC for Book-collectors (5th ed., 1976) is a good basic guide to bibliographical terminology. A Medical Bibliography by Leslie T. Morton (4th ed., 1983), usually referred to as “Garrison-Morton,” is the indispensable handbook for identifying the first and other collectible editions of the significant landmark books and papers on all subjects of medical history. The annotated entries, arranged chronologically by subject, will probably help you develop a tentative list of desiderata of rare books you might want to purchase. Certain bookdealers’ catalogs are useful reference works in themselves. Our own illustrated catalogs typically contain annotated descriptions of about 750 items priced from $15 to about $25,000. Each catalog is prefaced by an introduction on some subject of general interest to collectors.back to table of contents
V. Types of Collections
Rare book collections are typically classified according to four categories: author, subject, time, and place, or any combination of these. I discuss each of these categories in turn.
A few of the many medical authors whose works have been actively collected are William Harvey (1578-1657, who discovered and proved by experiment the circulation of the blood), Thomas Willis (1621-75, neuroanatomist, who coined the term neurology and whose discoveries include the circle of Willis), Edward Jenner (1749-1823, discoverer of vaccination for smallpox, whose work led to the eventual eradication of the disease); Sir Charles Bell (1774-1842, surgeon and neuroanatomist, many of whose books are outstanding for their beautiful illustrations drawn by Bell himself). Twentieth-century authors whose works are presently most actively collected include, as you might imagine, Sir William Osler and Harvey Cushing. These are just a few examples out of thousands of possible choices from the medical literature of the world. Any author who publishes a significant body of work is a potential candidate for an author collection. It is easier for the beginning collector to build an author collection if his author has previously been the subject of a published descriptive author bibliography, such as Sir Geoffrey Keynes’ of Sir William Harvey, or W. R. LeFanu’s Bio-bibliography’ of Edward Jenner (1951), or the Harvey Cushing Society’s Bibliography of the Writings of Harvey Cushing (1939). The best of these bibliographies include illustrations of title pages, full descriptions of all the issues and states of each edition of each of the author’s works, translations into languages other than the original, locations of copies of the various editions, and comments by the bibliographer on the rarity of the different editions. The collector who breaks new ground by collecting an author for whom there is no adequate author bibliography frequently has the pleasure of making his own bibliographical discoveries. He might wish to write his own author bibliography at some future date, or he could publish his findings in a scholarly journal, or simply turn the information over to another collector, dealer, or professional bibliographer who will put the information to the best use. Physicians who collect on medical subjects frequently but by no means always collect on the subjects of their own specialties. An anesthesiologist might collect on the history of anesthesiology but perhaps also on the history of resuscitation and blood transfusion. The history of anesthesia is particularly collectible since its clinical history began in the nineteenth century, and most of the significant pieces can still be acquired. There are numerous good subject histories of anesthesia and its various aspects. On the other hand the development of resuscitation dates back to the eighteenth century, and its history has yet to be written. Resuscitation still contains much unexplored territory for the collector. There have been several histories of blood transfusion published in English, French and Italian; however, in my opinion, the history of blood transfusion, which began with the work of Lower in 1665, remains to be adequately treated. It is a fertile subject for both historians and collectors.
One of the most popular subjects in medical history from the standpoint of both collectors and historians is the history of neurology and neurosurgery. Hundreds of physicians seem to be interested in this field, including many collectors who actually practice in other specialties. One reason is the persistent influence of Harvey Cushing, the founder of modern neurosurgery, whose fabulous historical library has been mentioned. Also, the tradition of teaching the history of neurology within the context of clinical work at medical schools is maintained both in the United States and in England. Another factor in the popularity of the history of neurology is the usage of historical eponyms to describe syndromes such as Bell’s palsy and Parkinson’s disease. The original descriptions of these syndromes are just as valid today as when first written, they are frequently expressed in charming old-fashioned language, and sometimes they are beautifully and artistically illustrated. Cushing’s own monographs are flavored with his elegant language and illustrated with his beautiful drawings. A final reason for the popularity of the history of neurology is the existence of several fine histories of the subject, the best of which include Clarke and O’Malley, The Human Brain and Spinal Cord (1968) and McHenry’s Garrison’s History of Neurology (1969). Both are now out of print.
Publication in English of the multi-volume Hirschberg, History of Ophthalmology (1982- ), with 15 volumes planned, has served to stimulate the already active field of collecting the history of this aesthetically pleasing subject, which also includes books on optics, light, and color. Hirschberg’s encyclopedic history is the most comprehensive ever written about any medical specialty. There is also a brief well-annotated subject bibliography available in the Catalog of the Bernard Becker Collection in Ophthalmology at Washington University (1983).
Of all fields of surgery, the best-documented from the historical standpoint is plastic surgery, with the publication of the five-volume McDowell Indexes of Plastic Surgery (1977-78). These record virtually all of the monographs and journal articles relating to this specialty from the fifteenth century to the present. Volume One consists of the English translation of Eduard Zeis’ classic History and Annotated Index of Plastic Surgery, translated and annotated by T. J. S. Patterson. This is the indispensable guide for collecting the early literature of plastic surgery up until 1865, when Zeis compiled it. The subject is further documented in several other special histories, including the brief but well-documented Progress of Plastic Surgery by Wallace (1982), the classic The Life and Times of Gaspare Tagliacozzi by Gnudi and Webster (1950), and the recent Plastic Surgery, Past and Present by Gabka and Vaubel (1983). American institutional libraries with special strength in this field are the Jerome P. Webster Library of Plastic Surgery at Columbia University and the Archives of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons at the Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard University.
Naturally, the history of plastic surgery may also be found in the histories of general surgery, both as a subspecialty of surgery itself and because many of the early contributions to plastic surgery are recorded as chapters in books on general surgery. The history of surgery in general is a fertile field for collecting. Numerous special histories and bibliographies are available. The best recent history of surgery is the massive 785-page The Rise of Surgery (1978) by the late great surgeon and professor of surgery, Owen H. Wangensteen, and his wife.
Aside from building medical subject collections by specialty, of which a few examples have been given above, certain aspects of medicine lend themselves to the subject approach. One is the history of anatomy and anatomical illustration. This tends to appeal to physicians with an artistic bent as many of the great anatomical atlases were illustrated by major artists. Indeed the whole subject of medicine in art or the history of art from the medical standpoint is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and widely popular approaches to medical history. The essential reference books for this subject are Choulant, History and Bibliography of Anatomic Illustration, translated and annotated by Mortimer Frank (1945), Thornton and Reeves, Medical Book Illustration, a Short History (1982), Rousselot (ed.), Medicine in Art (1967), and Herrlinger, History of medical Illustration from Antiquity to A.D. 1600 (1970; vol. 2 bringing the history up to the present was published only in German, 1972). Unfortunately only the Thornton and Reeves work is in print at the time of writing, but a reprint of Choulant with an introduction by this writer is now planned. Virtually all of the major medical libraries include strong holdings in the classics of medicine in art. The art museum with the strongest collections of these is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Their Ars Medica collection emphasizes separate prints rather than book illustration.
Another interesting way to build a book collection is to frame it within a period of time. For example, in Sir William Osler’s day it was fashionable to collect the earliest printed medical books, those produced in the fifteenth century, the so-called cradle of printing. Such early books have been designated as a genre, “incunabula,” from the Latin meaning “in the cradle.” A single book printed in the fifteenth century is correctly designated as an incunabulum. Osler published a monograph entitled Incunabula Medica (1923) based on his Presidential Address to the Bibliographical Society of London. The bibliography of the earliest medical books which he appended to that address describes only books printed up to 1480. In those days medical books printed after 1480 were considered too common to be worthy of serious consideration as rarities by collectors. Today the vast majority of all medical incunabula are in institutional libraries and a private collector would never the able to assemble more than a few dozen in a lifetime. Thus the modern collector who wants to build a collection of the earliest medical books would be wise to include the sixteenth century, in which the great Renaissance medical books appeared. While few of the great medical incunabula appear on the market these days, many great sixteenth-century books, including most of the writings of Andreas Vesalius (1514-64), for example, appear on the market occasionally if one is patient. Even so, the supply of sixteenth-century medical books is steadily diminishing. In twenty years it will probably be very difficult to collect these works at any price. The time to buy them is now!
As a rule of thumb, the supply of antiquarian objects in all fields is generally perceived to be diminishing as a function of the time they were originally produced. That is, fifteenth-century books or artifacts are widely perceived to be scarcer than sixteenth-, sixteenth- are considered scarcer than seventeenth-, etc. The rationale behind this is that the volume of printing increased geometrically over the centuries. (It is only finally beginning to level off now with the development of all the competing electronic media.) While this perception of a geo-metrically increasing supply of books may be true in the generality, it may have little or nothing to do with the possibility of obtaining an individual book, as many medical or scientific books from the nineteenth century were actually produced in editions smaller than those of some sixteenth-century books. For example, the first edition of Vesalius’ monumental De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (1543) appears on the market with more regularity than Bright’s more specialized but equally prized Reports of Medical Cases (2 vols. in 3, 1827-31). In fact, the first edition of Vesalius may even be more common than the heavily used first edition of Gray’s Anatomy (1858). Even so, the Vesalius still sells for 20 to 30 times as much.
As a general rule, however, the important fifteenth-, sixteenth-, and seventeenth-century books tend to sell for higher prices than their later counterparts. Collectors with limited budgets, or collectors who want to build large libraries rather than smaller collections of early rarities, might do well to concentrate on the eighteenth or nineteenth century. A suggested topic with a discrete chronological boundary might be U. S. Civil War medicine. This can, of course, be collected from the standpoint of the Union or Confederate Medical Corps. Fewer Confederate medical imprints were produced, the editions were also smaller, and they tend to be drastically rarer than the relatively common Union medical items.
Another time-delineated American collection is that of U. S. Revolutionary War medicine from 1775 to 1781. One could also collect early American medicine before the Revolution. American medical books printed before the revolution tend to be much rarer than those published after the demand increased around 1776. It would also be interesting to collect and compare the medical books printed in England with those produced on our side of the Atlantic during this early period of American history. While the number of medical imprints produced in America during the eighteenth century was limited because of the relatively small size of the population, there was no such limit on the medical books produced in England during the same period, and any limitation on the number of eighteenth-century English medical books would have to be made by the collector himself.
In comparing the relative quantities of medical books printed in England and America during the eighteenth century we can see the value of delineating a book collection by place or location. A collection of English medical books would be vast, but if we further defined our objective by limiting our collection to English medical books printed in London we might have a manageable if very large collection. A realistic objective for a private collector might be to try to collect all of the medical books printed in an English city such as Birmingham or in an American city such as Philadelphia. Philadelphia, in particular, has a rich medical heritage and a medical collection delineated by this particular location would contain many fascinating treasures, the best-known of which would include the few medical books printed by Benjamin Franklin, such as his Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital (1754-61). Franklin wrote the text of the first part of this fund-raising promotional tract himself.
Moving to more exotic locales, one could attempt to collect the history of Australian medicine. The problem is that we hardly ever find Australian medical imprints of any kind outside of Australia. It would also be possible to make a small collection of Indian medical imprints. I say a small collection because the tropical climate of India is not conducive to the preservation of art works on paper. Good copies tend not to come out of India, but are occasionally found as duplicates or surplus from British libraries.
To reiterate, book collections can be classified into four types: author, subject, period of time, place, or any combination of the four categories. Private collections other than author collections usually wind up as combinations of at least two categories unless the boundaries are very narrowly defined. With an author collection it may be possible to collect or attempt to collect every edition of every book by an individual; however, almost any subject will be too large for a collector to encompass in its entirety. If he chooses a very narrow subject such as the history of surgery of the hand, on which perhaps fewer than 100 typically rare and obscure monographs were written before the twentieth century, he will probably be forced to widen his scope to encompass relevant works on orthopedic or plastic surgery. It might also be possible to collect all of the medical imprints of certain smaller places in the world, such as Lexington, Kentucky, where the early American medical school of Transylvania University was located. The problem with such narrowly defined collections is that they are very hard to build in a time of scarcity of important early medical books. In defining the scope of a collection one needs to undertake a project that is practical, so as to avoid frustration. In the beginning it is best to collect on a relatively general subject until one determines what is available. As time goes on the collector may refine his collection to reflect his more concentrated interests. Also, if investment is a factor in building the collection, it is important to plan a library that will interest future collectors when it is sold-the more obscure the author, subject, place, time, etc., the less resalability the collection may ultimately have. Your bookseller will be glad to advise you on this aspect of collecting.
Once you have decided what you want to collect, bear in mind that you should pay attention to condition when you buy books for your library. It is true that a mediocre copy of an expensive book will cost you drastically less than a fine one, but this sort of a “bargain” will always remain a bargain. Always avoid incomplete copies unless you are absolutely positive that you will never be able to afford a complete copy of the work in question or unless the book is so rare that you may never have a chance to buy a complete copy. If you do buy a defective copy but would like to have a better one, make an agreement with the dealer that you will be able to trade your defective copy in for credit if he locates a better copy.
As a rule try to buy the finest copy of a book that you can afford. A copy in a binding dated within fifty years of the book’s publication (called a “contemporary binding” in dealers’ catalogs) is usually but not always preferable to a rebound copy. A rebound association copy that belonged to an important early physician or other famous person might be more valuable than a copy in a contemporary binding, however. So might a presentation copy bearing an autograph presentation inscription from the author. A copy in a modern binding replicating a binding from the period of the book’s publication is preferable to one inappropriately rebound.
Naturally you should always aim to obtain the first editions of the books you are looking for, but do not neglect later editions if they are textually or typographically significant, or if they have association value. Remember that interesting later editions or translations, for example, add depth to your collection of first editions.back to table of contents
VI. Taking Care of Your Collection
Over the centuries books have proven to be very durable objects. If simply placed on a shelf out of direct sunlight in a room with medium temperature and humidity there is no reason why most books should not survive for hundreds of years. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight fade the spines of books just as they fade your furniture. The process of fading occurs so slowly that you will not notice it until one day you look at a book and compare the color of the spine with the covers of the same book which have been protected from the sunlight. By then the damage is done.
The truth is that books will survive even a fair amount of mistreatment, but make sure that they are not subjected to excessive heat or excessive humidity, as well as excessive light. Too much heat will dry the books out, but excessive moisture is even more dangerous. Books absorb atmospheric moisture like sponges and can become infested with mold if kept in a room that is too damp. If you think you might have a problem in one of these areas, there is no cause for alarm. Damage from excessive heat or moisture occurs gradually and you have time to correct the problem. Your aim should be to maintain a relatively constant temperature in your library at a level comfortable to you while maintaining a humidity level of about 50 per cent.
No matter how well you maintain your library environment leather bindings have a tendency to dry out, and dry bindings should be treated with an approved leather dressing when necessary. If you take good care of your books, such a treatment may be necessary only once every ten years or so, and in any case applying the leather dressing is a simple and relatively pleasant procedure you can do yourself, Recipes for approved leather dressing and discussion of other restoration techniques can be found in Horton, Cleaning and Preserving Bindings and Related Materials (1967).
Because most of the stress on a binding occurs on the hinges, it is very common for the hinges of bindings on old books to require repair. Sometimes a binding will have deteriorated over the centuries to a point where the book should be entirely rebound. In other instances there may be stains on some pages of the text which you would like to have removed. Given a skilled restorer, there is little that cannot be accomplished to improve the condition of a worn or damaged book. However, I cannot emphasize too strongly that even professional restorers have varying degrees of skill, and for the best results you must place your book in the hands of the appropriate restorer. This requires understanding the strengths and limitations of various restorers and binders. Second, the restorer must be given instructions to undertake restoration that is appropriate for the book involved. This requires knowledge of bookbinding styles appropriate to the date and place of the book’s origin, as well as an appreciation of what style of binding will produce the most successful result for the particular book at a price relative to the value of the book. No matter how splendid the results, there is no point in spending $500 to restore a $150 book.
Successful restoration of books is one of the most aesthetically satisfying aspects of book collecting and bookselling. In my firm we contract out the restoration of hundreds of volumes each year. Successful restoration will enhance the value of books in your library. On the other hand, inappropriate restoration can make a valuable book considerably less valuable. When in doubt, leave the book alone until you can get professional advice from a bookseller or rare books librarian whom you trust. A rare books librarian can put you in touch with competent restorers. For a small fee the bookseller may be willing to supervise the restoration of your book by contracting the work out to a restorer with whom he customarily works.
Unlike certain other collectibles such as coins, stamps, silver, gemstones, etc., insurance of a rare book collection is not particularly complex or expensive. While thefts of rare books are on the increase, the primary targets of book thieves have tended to be institutional libraries, and the risk of having rare books stolen from your home is probably much less than that of having your television, hi-fi, or personal computer taken. With rare coins, stamps, gems, and other high-theft-risk items, insurance rates have become so prohibitive that many collectors simply forego insurance and store their collections in safety deposit boxes. For most of my clients, as well as myself, not to be able to keep and enjoy a private rare book collection at home would be a great loss. Fortunately, virtually any rare book collection stored in your home can be insured at low rates. If the value of your collection is nominal you may simply wish to add its value to that of the personal property you are insuring in your house. When the value of your library becomes more significant, the least expensive and most reliable way to insure it is usually with a fine arts policy. This requires an inventory of your books together with an individual appraisal of their current fair market value. Most antiquarian booksellers will appraise your library for insurance purposes at a nominal fee, based on the time involved. Once you have this appraisal it can be periodically updated and if you ever suffer a loss it will be much easier for you to be fairly compensated by the insurance company than if you wait for the loss to be appraised after the fact.
VII. Why I Am a Rare Book Dealer
I went into the antiquarian book business because I became fascinated with early books and manuscripts and the mystique surrounding their rarity. Fourteen years of dealing in the great classics documenting landmark achievements in the history of medicine and the sciences from the Middle Ages to the present have put me in contact with many of the most accomplished and successful physicians in all aspects of medical practice, private, academic, and industrial. At the same time I am making a special effort to work with interns and residents in their initial forays into collecting. What all of my clients seem to have in common with me is an interest in history directed toward medicine and the wish to gain a better perspective on our fast-changing times by the use of an historical approach. Beyond that, the mystique of rarity always remains. There is a special pleasure in possessing something of great cultural value which only a few other people will ever own.
Rare books, manuscripts, and prints in the history of medicine come in all shapes and sizes and in all price ranges. Price and numerical scarcity are not always proportional, as the books most difficult to obtain are not always the most expensive, and some of the most expensive books appear on the market fairly frequently. For the collector, and for the dealer like myself, however, the greatest pleasure in collecting is the chase after the most elusive rarities. To capture a truly rare, desirable and important book after many years of patient if frustrating searching is a real victory.back to table of contents
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