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WILLICHIUS, Jodocus (1501–1552)

Urinarum probationes. Illustratæ scholis medicis, Hieronymi Reusneri in quibus principia solidæ Uroscopiæ, ad solidæ philosophiæ fontes revocantur, multiq medicorum errores deteguntur. His accessere variæ matularum delineationes: atq; genuini urinarum colores. Remedia item plurima ex urina desumpta, maxima vero ex parte chemica.
Basilieæ, per Sebastianum Henricpetri, 1582.

Uroscopy book with 96 hand-coloured woodcuts - The present treatise is ”about the first to point out the real value of uroscopy” (Ferguson). The first edition was published in Wittenberg in 1560, edited by Joachim Walter, a thin little book of 44 leaves. Willichius´ text was reprinted in 1582, enlarged with a scholia (commentary) by the editor, Hieronymus Reusner, whose scholia exceeds by far Willichius´ text, and he also added a treatise of his own on the same subject (pp 301-40). This copy has all the 96 woodcuts coloured, a must for making a diagnosis, thus giving a vivid picture into the world of the uroscopists (Pisse-propheten) of the mid sixteenth century. The urine is coloured according to a scheme included in the book. The various shades of the colours of the urine are painted with the utmost care, and even the reflection in the glass has touches of gold and silver. Reusner means that the best glasses were the Venetian of perfect transparancy. The primary colours of the urine are white, golden yellow, saffron, red, wine-coloured, purple, green and black, and all with many varieties, i.e. snow white, milky white, greenish white like that of transparent horn, or white grey like camel hair or fingernails next to the joint, yellow as pure gold, red as cherries, purple as raisins in the sun, green as leek, and worst of all, pitch-black. The origin of uroscopy can be traced back to Babylonian physicians, who in the period of about 4000 B.C. had noticed the various changes in colour that urine undergoes. Hippocrates practised uroscopy with discretion and common sense, but in the hand of later Greek physicians and those of the Middle Ages, the practice grew into a complex pseudo science of diagnosis based largely on fantasy upon which the patient´s treatment depended. At times the uroscopist was brought urines from sources other than the patient or even urine of animals, either as a test of the physician´s skill or to make him look foolish.

Collation: Pp (24), 341, (1) colophon, (2) last page with printer's device. Illustrated with 96 woodcuts of urine glasses, all delicately coloured by hand, with the urine in various colours, and the glasses with touches of gold and silver.

Binding: In medieval manuscript vellum, the text of which has been painted over. Through the worn surface is visible, on both front and back cover, fragments of a red painted double border with an arabesque centre-piece. At head of spine threre is a white shield with a golden urine glass, easily mistaken for a heraldic shield.

Provenance: Contemporary signature on title: "Ex libris Joh. Thurnmünchen M.B." Inscription inside front cover: "Joh. Reinhardti ex D. Is. Habrechti bibliotheca per manu[scriptu]m Lic. Sellingeri Th. ad meam biblioth. translat." Formerly in the Cederhielm Library (Carlander II, p 489 ff). Purchased by Oscar Leman (1839-1887) and sold at auction after his death in Stockholm 1888 (Carlander IV, p 282 ff).

References: Ferguson, II, 551-52; Desnos, Ernest: ’Uroscopy’ in Murphy, J.L.T. The History of Urology (1972), pp 124-51; Wellcome, H.S. (ed.) The Evolution of Urine Analysis (1911). Waller 10310.

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