Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2017 Issue

The Transmission of Medical Knowledge from Rivverun Books & Manuscripts

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The Transmission of Medical Knowledge.

Riverrun Books & Manuscripts has released a catalogue of The Transmission of Medical Knowledge from Book to Journal. The Collection of Allan B. Kirsner, M.D. The "book to journal" part of the title, Riverrun explains, has to do with how most medical knowledge has been transmitted. For a couple of millennia, it was through books, providing details of what was known about a subject. However, with the development of the scientific method and the great expansion in research and testing which followed, a need grew to transmit new findings quickly. The result was that in the 18th century, medical journals began to appear, regular publications providing up to date news. Today, most new developments reach the field in this manner, though guides for the layman are still more often found in book-length treatises.

 

The collection at hand was compiled by Dr. Kirsner during his medical school days. It has remained essentially unchanged in the half century following in which he has practiced medicine. The result is a collection formed over 50 years ago, of material some of which would be harder to find today. Many of the items in the catalogue are of a technical nature, terminology of diseases and conditions not terribly familiar to the average person. I doubt I could do justice to a description of Observations on the etiologic relationship of achylia gastrica to pernicious anemia. These items are for those with deeper medical knowledge. However, others will be of interest to those who approach the development of medical knowledge more as patient than physician, books and journals understandable by the rest of us. We will focus on this type of material as we look at some samples from this catalogue.

 

We begin with one of odder cases of medical research. The book is The Physiology of Digestion, with Experiments on the Gastric Juice, by William Beaumont. This is the 1847 second edition of a book first published in 1833. Beaumont was an army physician when a Canadian trapper, Alexis St. Martin, was brought to him suffering from a severe gunshot wound to the stomach. St. Martin's chances did not look good, but Beaumont was able to save his life. However, the wound never completely healed. Beaumont was able to fashion a piece of skin to cover the hole. St. Martin was in no shape to return to trapping, so Beaumont hired him as an assistant and began using the hole in his stomach to make observations. He was able to look inside to see what was going on, and even conduct experiments, such as attaching a piece of food to a string, putting it inside St. Martin's stomach, and later pulling it out to observe the results. Beaumont's work is considered the most important on digestion prior to Pavlov. As for St. Martin, he later returned to the woods and lived to be 78. Item 14. Priced at $450.

 

Next is the first announcement in English of one of the most important tools in medical diagnostics. The title of the article is On a New Kind of Rays, by William Rontgen. It appears within a volume of issues of Nature, A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Science, from November 1895-April 1896. Rontgen was experimenting with a cathode ray tube, others already aware that it produced rays with penetrating power. What he accidentally discovered is that those rays had the power to create images. He called in his wife and aimed the rays through her hand. It created an image of the skeleton inside. Rontgen had discovered x-rays, with the obvious medical use quickly to follow. Item 142. #3,250.

 

From diagnostics we turn to prevention. Like Rontgen, Louis Pasteur was a scientist, not a physician, though his discoveries are among the most important to medical science. While not the first to surmise that microbial agents were the cause of many processes, including disease, it was his experiments that proved this to be a fact. Up to his time, the prevailing theory was that spontaneous generation was the cause of such things as fermentation. These things just sort of happened on their own. Pasteur performed experiments using sterilized flasks and comparing the results when opened to air or kept sealed to prove that material had to be exposed to air, and the microscopic life within it, for fermentation to take place. It led to the process of pasteurization, where a liquid is heated to temperatures sufficient to kill any germs, and then sealed, to prevent it from going bad. We think of pasteurization primarily as used for preserving milk, but of course, there is an even more important drink it preserves – beer. Item 134 is his study of beer, Etudes sur la biere, ses maladies, causes qui les provoquent, procede pour la rendre inalterable, a first edition published in 1876. $750.

 

This item is an odd work from 18th century philosopher George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne (in Ireland). Berkeley wrestled with the philosophical issues of his day, in his case, trying to understand the relationship between the material world and observation. For him, all we could really know was what our senses revealed, as opposed to what material world might lie behind it. The world, in effect, consisted of consciousness and sensation. God's role was to determine what we sensed. This work contains some of his philosophical musings, but goes beyond to some not entirely accurate scientific/medical claims: Siris, a Chain of Philosophical Reflections and Inquiries, Concerning the Virtues of Tar Water, a second edition (1744). Tar water is a mixture of pine tar and water. Berkeley believed it was something of a cure-all, recommending it to treat everything from cancer to fevers, dysentery, rheumatism and asthma. If you believe in the theory that if something tastes really bad it must be good for you, then tar water is certainly a great remedy. Berkeley wasn't completely out of his mind in finding the product has its virtues. Pine tar can be used as an antiseptic, but the Bishop raised its positive qualities well beyond reality. Item 15. $400.

 

Here is a guide for anyone wishing to return to more traditional medical practices: Bright's Practice of Medicine: A New and Improved Family Work, with a Plain Practical Treatise on the Diseases of Women and Children, published in 1846. John W. Bright was a Kentucky physician who, along with having a long-running practice (he was the oldest practicing physician in the state when he died at age 89), wrote numerous medical books for the public. His emphasis was on diseases of women and children up to their early teen years, though everyone is covered in his manuals. His book also contains a section on the comparative gestation of livestock, which the preface says "will be found to be a very important one to farmers and stock-raisers," though I have no idea what it is doing in a medical book such as this. Item 23. $350.

 

Riverrun Books & Manuscripts may be reached at 914-478-1339 or info@riverrunbookshop.com. Their website is located at www.riverrunbookshop.com.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Sense and Sensibility: A Novel, By a Lady,</i> 3 volumes, London, 1811. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Virginia Woolf, <i>Kew Gardens,</i> limited edition, signed by Woolf & Bell, London, 1927. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> <i>[Arabian Nights],</i> Calcutta II version, 4 volumes, Calcutta & London, 1839-1842. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 ALS to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor, anticipating Christie’s sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Jane Austen, <i>Emma,</i> first edition, London, 1816. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Hirohito & Nagako, Emperor & Empress of Japan, 2 photographs signed, showing Nagako in kimono & obi bearing the imperial seal. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Princess Diana, 6 autograph letters signed to <i>Harper’s Bazaar</i> editor Elizabeth Tilberis, anticipating Christie’s announcement of a sale of her dresses for charity, 1995-97. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Sarojini Naidu, complete galley proof of <i>The Broken Wing</i> signed with several holograph pages & an autograph letter signed to writer Edmund Gosse, 1916. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Fernando Pessoa, <i>Mensagem,</i> first edition, presentation copy, signed & inscribed, Lisbon, 1934. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Graham Greene, <i>The Basement Room,</i> first edition, Greene’s personal copy, signed with annotations throughout, London, 1935. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b> Abraham Lincoln, partly-printed document signed, call for troops issued during America’s first national draft just days before the NYC draft riots, 1863. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 20:</b><br><i>Les Chansons de Bilitis</i> by Pierre Louÿs, illustrated by George Barbier & F.L. Schmied, Paris, 1922. $8,000 to $12,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Helvelius. Two Autograph Letters Signed to Francis Aston, Royal Society Secretary, noting his feud with Robert Hooke, 5 pp total, 1685. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Newton, Isaac. Autograph manuscript on God, 4 pp, c.1710, "In the beginning was the Word...."?$100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. First edition, first issue. Untrimmed copy in contemporary boards. $30,000 to $50,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Signed photograph, beardless portrait with Civil War provenance. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> IMPEACHMENT. Original engrossed copy of the first Andrew Johnson impeachment resolution vote. $120,000 to $180,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Mucha, Alphonse. 11 original pencil drawings for?<i>Andelicek z Baroku,</i> "Litte Baroque Angel," Prague, 1929. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Einstein, Albert. Annotated Galley Proofs for <i>The Meaning of Relativity.</i> 1921. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Silverstein, Shel. Original maquette for <i>The Giving Tree,</i> 34 original drawings. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Roth, Philip. Typed Manuscript with substantial autograph corrections for an unpublished sequel to <i>The Breast.</i> $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> Taupin, Bernie. Autograph Manuscript, the original draft of lyrics for Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," 2 pp, 1973. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. <i>De Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Padua: 1643. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar. 6:</b> CESALPINO, ANDREA. <i>Peripateticarum Quaestionum Libri Quinque.</i> Venice: 1571. $30,000 to $40,000.
  • <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Leon TOLSTOÏ. <i>Anna Karenina.</i> Moscou, 1878. First and full edition of the Russian novel, in the author’s language.<br>Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Mark TWAIN. <i>Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer's comrade).</i> New York, 1885. First American edition.<br>Est. 5 000 / 6 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Walt WHITMAN. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> Brooklyn, New York, 1856. Second edition gathering 32 poems. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Karen BLIXEN. <i>Out of Africa.</i> Londres, 1937. First edition in the UK, before Danish translation and American release.<br>Est. 1 500 / 2 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Ernest HEMINGWAY. <i>A Farewell to Arms.</i> New York, 1929. First edition with $2.50 on the dust and A on the copyright page.<br>Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Ulysses.</i> Paris, Shakespeare and Company, 1922. First edition published by Sylvia Beach. Est. 3 000 / 4 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> James JOYCE. <i>Dubliners.</i> Londres, 1914. First edition. Nice copy in publisher’s cardboard. Est. 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> Franz KAFKA. 8 novels in German first edition, published in München, Leipzig and Berlin 1916-1931. Est. from 300 / 400 to 2 000 / 3 000 €
    <b>ALDE, Feb. 26:</b> David Herbert LAWRENCE. <i>Lady Chatterley's Lover.</i> Florence, 1928. Privately printed first edition. Est. 4 000 / 5 000 €
    John STEINBECK. <i>The Grapes of Wrath.</i> New York, 1939. First edition. Nice copy with $2.75 on the cover. Est. 1 000 / 1 200 €
  • <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Harriet Tubman Cabinet Card by H.S. Squyer, Auburn, NY, 1892. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Scarce <i>Events of the Tulsa Disaster,</i> First Edition, 1922. $4,000 to $6,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass by Benjamin F. Smith, 1864. $3,000 to $5,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> California Imprint of <i>President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation</i> Broadside, 1864. $10,000 to $15,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> John C.H. Grabill Cabinet Card of Buffalo Soldier Wearing Buffalo Coat, ca 1886. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare <i>What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,</i> 2nd Cookbook Published by African American. $6,000 to $8,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Frederick Douglass Walking Stick, 1888. $3,000 to $5,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Only Known Slave Narrative Published Independently in California, <i>Life and Adventures of James Williams.</i> $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Rare First Edition of History of Black Literature, Abbé Grégoire <i>De La Littérature des Nègres</i>. $2,500 to $3,000
    <center><b>Cowan’s Auctions<br>The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana<br>February 20, 2020</b>
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> African American Soldier and Medal of Honor Winner Christian A. Fleetwood CDV, PLUS. $8,000 to $10,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries Pennant, 1910 Reno, Nevada. $2,000 to $4,000
    <br>Cowan’s, Feb. 20:</b> Joe Gans Photograph at 1906 Goldfield, Nevada Fight by Percy Dana. $600 to $800

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