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FATIO, Johannes (1649–1691)

Helvetisch-Vernünftige Wehe-Mutter, oder Gründlicher Unterricht, wie mit den Schwangern, Gebährenden, Kindbetterinnen und neugebohrnen Kindern umzugehen, selbige gebührend zu verpflegen, und in allerhand ihnen zustossenden Kranckheiten zu begegnen seye: Samt einer ausführlichen Beschreibung von Fortpflanzung des menschlichen Geschlechts, und aller weiblichen Leibes-Theilen, auch der Empfängniß, Formir- und Bildung der Frucht im Mutterleibe. Nebst des Verfassers curiösen Anmerckungen, selbst-bewährten Handgriffen, Curen und dazu dienlichen Arzney-Mitteln. Dem löblichen Frauenzimmer, geschwohrnen Weibern, und andern ehrbaren Frauen zu Nutz, mit besonderm Fleisse in fünf Abschnitte eingetheilt. Mit vielen Kupfern und dreyen Registern.
Basel, Johann Rudolph Imhof, 1752.

The first and only edition published sixty-one years after the author’s death. A very fine copy with the remarkable bookplate of Wilhelm Moehsen showing his library in 1756 and with a scene also showing its burning in 1753. Fatio, surgeon and obstetrician, had a large practice in Basel and won high repute among his patients. He was, however, always unjustly treated as an outcast and never accepted at the Basle Faculty of Medicine. Because of revolutionary political activity in the city of Basle he was imprisoned, tortured, and beheaded in 1691. All of his manuscripts except the text of the above work were burned by the authorities. The manuscript of this excellent work had been well preserved and was published in 1752 in a beautiful quarto volume. Fatio was probably the first surgeon to study systematically and treat surgical conditions of children. In the last section of his handbook, he includes the earliest section on paediatric surgery in a medical book. He describes operations for hypospadias, hydrocolopos, imperforate anus and many more. The book is divided into five parts: 1.) the anatomy of woman and on generation; 2.) the pregnant woman and her diseases; 3.) on natural and complicated deliveries; 4.) the childbed woman, her diseases, food and drink; 5.) the care of newborn children and their diseases. Fatio twice operated successfully in cases of vesico-vaginal fistula. With the patient in the lithotomy position and with the aid of a speculum, after freshening the margins of the fistula with fine scissors, he passed sharpened quills through the margins of the fistula and wound threads snugly about them, thus approximating the edges of the wound.

Collation: Pp (14), 468, (20). With 16 engraved plates incl. one folding (plate 3) with four figures. Plates Nos. 1,2,4,5 and 6 with a conjugate leaf with letterpress explanation of the plate. The plates are not placed in strict numerical order. Title printed in red and black.

Binding: Contemporary calf with five raised bands, richly gilt spine, blue ”herrnhuter”-marbled edges, marbled endpapers.

Provenance: Large bookplate (covering the entire inside of the back cover) engraved by Johann Ernst Gericke and dated 1757. It shows the magnificent library of Johann Karl Wilhelm Moehsen (1722-1795) with his portrait and a view of his library as it stood in 1756. On the pillar in the foreground is depicted the fatal fire in Moehsen’s library in 1753, when all was destroyed. It was rebuilt with new books in 1756. On the floor is shown different objects and subjects that Moehsen wanted to collect. Moehsen succeeded his own grandfather at the Joachimsthal’schen Gymnasium in Berlin, and was selected to be Royal physician to the court. He wrote on the history of medicine and his works on Thurneisser and his Verzeichniss einer Sammlung von Bildnissen berühmter Aerzte (1771) are still very useful reference works. (See also Hirsch, 4. p. 226.)

References: Garrison-Morton 6357.1; Hirsch, II, 483; Wangensteen, The Rise of Surgery, pp 244-45; Speert, Obstetrics and Gynecology: A History and Iconography (1994), p 456; Ricci, The Development of Gynaecological Surgery and Instruments (1990) p 143); Rickham, ‘The Dawn of Paediatric Surgery: Johannes Fatio. His Life, His Work and His Horrible End’. in Rickham (ed.) Historical aspects of paediatric surgery. Prog. pediatr. Surg., 20. (1986). Waller 2956.

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