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NICHOLLS, Frank (1699–1778)

De anima medica prælectio ex Lumleii et Caldwaldi Instituto, in theatro Collegii Regalis Medicorum Londiniensium ad socios habita, die Decembris 16to. Anno 1748to. Editio Altera, notis amplioribus aucta. Cui accessit Disquisitio de motu cordis et sanguinis in homini nato et non nato, tabulis æneis illustrata.
Londini, excudebat H. Hughs: Prostat venalis apud J. Walter, 1773.

Second and better edition, containing the first edition of Disquisitio de Motu Cordis. This handsome book is the masterpiece of a distinguished English anatomist whose work is little known. The book is illustrated by some of the most remarkable anatomical engravings ever published. This very rare book is not mentioned in Choulant/Frank or in any of the works by Willius on the history of the heart and the circulation, and there is no copy in the Osler, Cushing or Waller collections. The first part of the work, delivered in 1748 as the Lumleian Lecture, was first published in 1750, and appears here in an extended form. The second part, the Disquisitio de Motu Cordis, is Nicholls’ treatise on the motion of the heart and blood in the human body and in the unborn child. It was delivered as the Gulstonian lecture in 1734, but not published until 1773, by which time Nicholls had developed the anatomical techniques for which he was famous, in particular his invention of corroded anatomical preparations. – ”He demonstrated minute structure of blood-vessels, showed before the Royal Society experiments proving that the inner and middle coat of an artery could be ruptured while the outer remained entire, and thus made clear the method of formation of chronic aneurysms, which had not before been understood. He noticed that the arteries were supplied with nerves, and pointed out that these probably regulated blood pressure” (DNB) The most remarkable feature of this book, however, is the superb presentation of the corroded preparations which he was the first to make, and the Addenda in which he describes in great detail his methods, far in advance of any contemporary technique. Four of the plates, engraved by G. King (probably Giles King, though there is no record of this engraver ever making anatomical plates) show the heart set up for demonstration by Nicholls’ method, sometimes on a velvet cushion or a special display stand, and supplied with a system of marginal references to avoid spoiling the appearance of the subject. Plate 11, a diagrammatic representation of the circulation in a foetus, is printed in sepia and pale red to distinguish the venous and arterial flow. “The plates are particularly fine” (Russell)

Collation: Pp. (2), 103, (1) errata and instruction to the binder. With 11 engraved plates including one printed in red.

Binding: Contemporary half calf, spine label missing.

Provenance: Presentation copy from the author’s son, inscribed by him on the front end paper to William Sandys and dated 1783.

References: Russell 637; Dawson Catalogue 91, 5018 A, with plate; DNB volume XIV, pp 437-38.

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