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BAUHIN, Caspar (1560-1624), editor

Gynæciorum, sive de mulierum affectibus commentarii Græcorum, Latinorum, Barbarorum, iam olim & nunc recens editorum: in tres [i.e. quatuor] tomos digesti, et necessariis passim Imaginibus illustrati.
Basileæ, apud Conradum Waldkirch, 1586.

Three (of four) volumes.

Conrad Gesner, the great polymath of the Renaissance, collected material for an encyclopedia which was to present all the best that had been written on gynaecology and obstetrics up to his time. Gesner died before bringing his plan to fruition and left the completion of the project to Caspar Wolff, his literary executor, who published the collection in one volume a year after Gesner’s death (Basel 1566). The present edition in three volumes was edited by Caspar Bauhin, who added twelve treatises. In 1588 the publisher, Waldkirch, brought out a fourth volume containing Luiz Mercado’s De mulierum affectionibus (first publ. in Valladolid, 1579). A third and final edition, edited by Israel Spach with further additions was published in 1597. This encyclopedia of women’s diseases is of great historical value as it has preserved for us many writings which are exceedingly rare in the original editions. The collection includes compilations of the works by Moschion, who in the 6th century wrote a Latin catechism on women’s diseases based on Soranus of Ephesos (A.D. 98–138), the foremost gynaecologist of classical antiquity; Trotula (Salerno, 11th century), the earliest woman physician to write a significant medical treatsie; the Arabic physician Albucasis (936–1013), the obstetrical section on his textbook on surgery (with many small woodcuts of instruments); Francois Rousset on Caesarean section, Jacques Dubois (Sylvius) on menstruation, Ambroise Paré, Jacob Rueff, Luigi Bonacciuoli, Felix Platter, Nicolaus de la Roche, Girolamo Mercuriale, and many others. The works of Moschion, Platter, Rueff, Paré and Albucais are illustrated with woodcuts of the foetus in utero, surgical instruments, and anatomical details copied from Vesalius. A full-page woodcut depicts the corpse of Columba Chatry with her petrified foetus (see note for the magnified thumbnail).

Simon Berchelt was one of those medical scholars of German origin who during the reign of the Wasa-kings tried his fortune by settling in Stockholm, where he in 1564 prepared ”various kinds of medicaments and spices” for the king. In 1579 he took over the royal pharmacy in Stockholm and in 1582 also the pharmacy in Uppsala. As apothecary to the Royal Court Berchelt became in time a wealthy man. He was a friend of Benedictus Olai and was during Johan III:s last illness appointed physician in ordinary to the king as no other was at hand. Acc. to Pufendorf, Berchelt’s ignorance as to the medical treatment of his patient was fatal and resulted in the king’s premature death in 1592. Berchelt is the author of two plague tracts (1588, 1589), which are among the earliest medical books printed in Sweden.

Collation: Vol. I: pp (28), 55, (1), 423, (17); vol. II: pp (16), 565, (1), (34); vol. III: pp (8), 514, (26). With 65 woodcuts in the text. Imprint and printer’s device of Conrad Waldkirch on all three titles.

Binding: Three volumes uniformly bound in richly blind tooled white pigskin with four raised bands, leather ties, red edges. Two wide borders and a thinner one, all with floral ornamentation, surround the centre-pieces, which on the front covers has the portrait of Justice with a two-line legend beneath in which the letters ”N” are reversed; above and below, stamped in black, the original owner’s initials “S B” and the date “1589”. The back covers has the portrait of Lucrece in the centre.

Provenance: Inside the front covers all volumes have the signature of Simon Berchelt (d. 1601) Vinariensis [from Weimar]. From the Abraham Bäck donation in 1791 to Collegium Medicum.

References: Garrison-Morton 6012; Durling 2253; Parkinson & Lumb 1114; Bird, 1173; Speert, Iconographia Gyniatrica, pp 173-179; Cutter & Viets, pp 29-30, 183; Hagelin, Rare and Important Medical Books, KIB, 72-73. Waller 3898.

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