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WARREN, John Collins (1778-1856)

Remarks on Some Fossil Impressions in the Sandstone Rocks of Connecticut River.
Boston, Ticknor and Fields, 1854.

An exceptionally fine copy of this slim volume being of great interest to the history of photography. It is the first American scientific publication to be illustrated with a photograph, and only the second American publication illustrated by photography, having appeared shortly after the Homes of American Statesmen, which was published earlier the same year. The photographic frontispiece, a folded salt print by a photographer named Silsbee, which is acknowledged on page 52, depicts a faint image of a sandstone rock embodying the fossil impressions of chelonian and bird tracks. The last chapter is a Description of the Plate (pp 49-54). This, the last work published by Warren, was written and presented by him when he was President of the Boston Natural History Society. The early part of the text discusses the discovery of the fossil remains of a great bird (the Epyornis) in Madagascar in 1851. Warren who had a lifelong interest in palaeontology acquired and described the most perfect skeleton of a mastodon which exists. Notable also as an anatomist and surgeon, Warren helped establish the American Medical Association, assisted in founding the Massachusetts General Hospital and was a central figure in the introduction of ether anesthesia in America. Morton’s first public demonstration of the value of ether in a surgical operation was carried out by Warren at the Massachusetts General Hospital on 16 October 1846.

Collation: Pp 54. With a folding photographic frontispiece, and some wood engravings in the text.

Binding: Original blind decorated blue publisher’s [or binder’s] cloth, with the title in gilt lettering on front cover.

References: The Truthful Lens 181 and fig. 77; New York Public Library, Sun Pictures No. 10; Burns, American Medical Publications with Photographs, p 1250.

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