Strassburg: Gedruckt durch Johannem Schott, 1517.
1st Edition. Softcover. Folio - over 12 - 15" tall. Very Good. Item #002533
Folio (280 x 195 mm). 102 leaves, ff.  I-LXX  LXXI-XCV. Signatures: pi4 a-l6 m6 (+m3.4) n6 o4 p6 q8 (-q8). Double column in Fraktur type. 22 full-page and 5 half-page woodcut illustrations attributed to Hans Wechtlin, the first on the title-page, a smaller woodcut of a scribe on leaf d1, one (of two) inserted woodcut plate printed as broadside on full sheet and bound in as folding plate. Large woodcut historiated and ornamental initials. With the additional two unfoliated leaves bound in between LXX and LXXI, not found in many copies. Three full-page woodcuts and four initials with contemporary hand-coloring. Without the final blank q8. Recently bound in a 15th century antiphonary vellum bifolium. All edges engraved "Chyrurgia Theutonica" by a contemporary hand. The folding woodcut plate repaired at fold with little loss of image. Lower blank margin of title-page restored (not affecting text). Title-page, preliminaries and folding plate with heavy but marginal brown staining, otherwise crisp and bright. Single small wormhole through first and last leaves. Provenance: From a venerable old Strassburg family who worked in the chirurgical tool manufacturing for several generations. An outstanding, amazingly well-preserved and very wide-margined copy containing the rare fugitive skeleton plate. ----
Grolier/Norman Medicine 14; NLM/Durling 2059 (lacking the 2 folding plates); VD-16 G-1618; Choulant, pp. 162-66; Garrison & Morton 5560; Stillwell 387; Lilly Library, p.19; Herrlinger, History of Medical Illustration, pp. 140-43; Waller 3506 (calling for one plate only); cf. Heirs of Hippocrates 149 (1530 edition); Wellcome I, 2760 (1527 edition).
FIRST EDITION of a milestone in human anatomy and surgery and of greatest rarity. Only two copies have appeared at auction in the past 50 years: the first with one folding plates only as here and otherwise complete (Hartung & Karl Nov. 8, 1988, sold for DM 48,000) and the second copy defective lacking both folding plates and with the title-leaf torn with loss of the title (Christie's sale, Nov. 29, 2000; $20,036). Written in German vernacular rather than Latin and frequently used as working copies, all early editions are normally found in rather bad condition. In contrast to that, our copy is unusually well preserved, with only little staining, soiling or fraying. The book was very popular. The work went through at least twelve editions between the time of its first publication in 1517 and the early seventeenth century. VD16 lists 14 editions in the 16th century.
"In the same year that Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses, Gersdorff initiated the reformation of surgery by relating his own extensive experience in his Feldtbuch der Wundtartzney." (Grolier/Norman). The book is written on the basis of Gersdorff's 40 years experience as a military surgeon. A summary of the available knowledge of human anatomy derived from old Arabic writings, Guy de Chauliac, and other sources is followed by a guide to the surgical treatment of wounds, with a subsidiary part on the treatment of leprosy, followed by three Latin-German glossaries at the end - one of anatomic terms, one of diseases, and one of simples. "The book ... was translated into Latin and Dutch, and was widely quoted, referred to, and plagiarised in subsequent medical texts. Eminently practical in its instructions on the care and treatment of the wounded, it had admirably graphic wood engravings. The twenty-seven illustrations show clear diagrams of instruments and protheses, such as a mechanical iron-hand, in addition to scenes of operations, including the first printed picture of an amputation. Several illustrations, such as of the ambe, became standard in subsequent German surgical texts. The full-sheet anatomical skeleton existed in its own right as a broadside print and is often missing. (William Lefanu, Notable Medical Books from the Lilly Library, p. 19). Herrlinger comments that "The illustrations . . . belong to the early phase of 16th-century medical illustration and represent one of its high points" (History of medical illustration, London, 1970. p. 142).
"Gersdorff ... had gained wide experience during the course... of campaigning and was an expert in the care and treatment of battlefield injuries ... [He] emphasized a well-founded knowledge of anatomy because the surgeon was frequently called upon to deal with extensive bodily trauma... The surgical portion of the work was devoted to wound surgery and covers in some detail the methods he employed for extracting foreign objects and amputating limbs. He used a tourniquet to control bleeding when amputating and covered the stump with the bladder of a bovine or swine to help control postoperative hemorrhaging. He also included information on various remedies and medications that might be employed by the surgeon. Of special interest are the sedatives and analgesics, although he appears not to have employed them in his practice. The section on leprosy is given over largely to remedies for a disease he did not believe could be cured." (Heirs of Hippocrates 149).
*There appears to be two variants of this first edition: one with the bifolio numbered LXX/LXXI (signatures m3.4) present (e.g. at Universität Heidelberg), and another, without this but with an unnumbered bifolio (same signatures m3.4) with two full-page woodcuts including the first illustration of an amputation (e.g. at Augsburg Staats- u. Stadtbibliothek). Our copy does contain the unnumbered as well as the numbered bifolios and collates with the copy in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Wien. Also included in our copy is the folding diagram of the human skeleton which was originally published as a fugitive sheet. Very few copies also have a second fugitive sheet, the viscera-manikin, showing the internal organs (see H. Norman, One hundred books famous in medicine, Grolier Club, pp.54-5).
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