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HOLMGREN, Frithiof (1831–1897)

Om färgblindheten i dess förhållande till jernvägstrafiken och sjöväsendet.
Uppsala, Ed. Berlings Boktryckeri, 1877.

First edition in book form of Holmgren´s major work on colour-blindness which attracted great attention all over the world and was translated into French, German, English and Russian. It was first published in Uppsala Läkareförenings Förhandlingar (1877). A serious railway accident at Lagerlunda in Sweden in 1875 was believed by Holmgren to be caused by colour-blindness. He travelled around on a railway trolley and tested 266 persons of the Uppsala-Gävle Railway Company of which 16 proved to be colour-blind. At the Nordic Medical Meeting at Gothenburg in July 1876 Holmgren demonstrated his methods and discovered one red-blind and one green-blind among the participants. The meeting decided to introduce colour-blindness tests for all railway-, lighthouse-, and pilotage staff as well as for school children. Such tests were introduced already in the same year and the Swedish example was soon followed by all civilized countries. The book is rare in its original wrappers, which has a special feature in that the letters are printed in red and green or green and red alternatively. Holmgren was professor of physiology at the University of Uppsala and also the founder of the first physiological research laboratory in Sweden. One of the first Swedish medical educators specializing in optics, he gave special consideration to colour-blindness and stimulated an entirely new branch. His test for colour vision, the Holmgren test, consisted of selecting skeins of wollen yarns of various colours, shades, tints, and grays to match three standard test skeins.

Collation: Pp [6], 172, [2], with one colour chart..

Binding: Publisher’s blind stamped green cloth with gilt title, with the interesting original front wrapper preserved (see below).

Provenance: Israel Holmgren (1871-1961), professor of medicine at Karolinska Institutet, with his signature on the front fly-leaf. Israel, the son of Frithiof Holmgren, was a devoted scientist and an excellent lecturer. He didn’t only deal with medicine, but also social and political topics. He was the author of a pamphlet Nazisthelvetet (Nazi Hell) which was confiscated and almost had him sent to prison in 1943. He then published the same book under the title Nazistparadiset (Nazi Paradise).

References: Garrison & Morton, 5916; Hirsch III, p 280; Becker, 2nd. ed. 194.1; Albert, 1105. Waller 4856. Waller 4856.

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