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HEMSTERHUIS, Sibold, RUDBECK, Olof (1630–1702), PECQUET, Jean (1622–1674), BARTHOLIN, Thomas (1616–1680)

Messis aurea, exhibens anatomica, novissima et utilissima experimenta. Huic editioni accesserunt De vasis lymphaticis tabulæ Rudbeckianæ: figuris æneis illustratæ.
Heidelbergæ, typis Adriani Wyngaerden, 1659.

The important second edition of Messis aurea – a collection of the most important papers on the discovery of the lymphatic system – including the third and most complete edition of Rudbeck’s Nova exercitatio anatomica, describing his revolutionary findings of the intestinal lymphatics and their connection with the thoracic duct, here considerably enlarged with complimentary observations and with 13 new plates of the lymphatic vessels. These plates were drawn by Rudbeck himself and sent to the printer, Adrian Wyngaerden, already in July, 1656 (see Bibliotheca Rudbeckiana 669). The very accurately drawn plates, probably engraved in Germany, attracted great attention and were favourably received even by Bartholin, who used 12 of them in his De Pulmonum Substantia (Copenhagen, 1663). They were later re-engraved and incorporated in Leclerc & Magnet’s Bibliotheca Anatomica (1685), an impressive collection of the best anatomical works of the seventeenth century. In the fall of 1650 the twenty-year old Olof Rudbeck had, independently of Jean Pecquet, discovered the thoracic duct, and in April 1652 in the presence of Queen Christina he demonstrated his discoveries of the lymphatic vessels. His investigations were inspired by Harvey’s work on the circulation and their two discoveries are the most important of the early modern period in regard to the fluids of the body. The results of his revolutionary discovery were, however, not published until the summer of 1653 in a short paper of 48 pages, illustrated with two plates, entitled Nova exercitatio anatomica, exhibens ductus hepaticos aquosos et vasa glandularum serosa. It is now a classic work and the most important Swedish contribution to the history of medicine. Shortly afterwards Rudbeck went to Holland to continue his anatomical studies. There he met Hemsterhuis, who during Rudbeck’s stay in Leyden published a volume entitled Messis Aurea containing both Pecquet’s, Bartholin’s and Rudbeck’s treatises on their discoveries concerning the lymphatic system (Leyden, 1654), followed in 1659 by this new and enlarged edition containing: Pecquet, Jean: Experimenta Nova Anatomica, pp 1-36, with one plate. Bartholin, Thomas: De Lacteis Thoracicis Historia Anatomica, pp 37-148, with 2 plates. Bartholin, Thomas: De Lacteis Thoracicis Dubia Anatomica, pp 148-205, with one plate. Bartholin, Thomas: Vasorum Lymphaticorum Historia Nova, pp 205-53. Rudbeck, Olof: Nova exercitatio Anatomica, exhibens ductus hepaticos aquosos et vasa glandularum serosa. Editio haec tredecim recens ab Authore ipso inventis Figuris adaucta, pp 254-321, with 2 plates, re-engraved from the 1653-edition with additional figures. Rudbeck, Olof: Variae Anatomica Observationes, pp 322-35, followed by Nicolaus Rudbeck’s congratulations and some letters to Pecquet, pp 336-70. At the end are 13 plates by Rudbeck accompanied by 24 pages of descriptive text.

Collation: Pp (18), 370, (24). Folding engraved additional title-leaf, and 19 engraved plates (some folding).

Binding: Contemporary vellum, blind double fillet around sides with a fleuron in inner corners and arabesque centre piece with the stamp of Sv. Läkare Sällskapet on front cover.

Provenance: Signature on title: D. Lindel. = Daniel Lindelius, ennobled Lindeblad (d. 1694). He defended a dissertation under Prof. Hoffvenius at Uppsala in 1681 before he went abroad to Reims to take his doctor’s degree. Back in Sweden he was appointed County Medical Officer in Gotland and later on District Judge.


Rudbeck, J. Bibliotheca Rudbeckiana, 669; Rudbeck, J. ’Bibliografiska anteckningar om Olof Rudbeck den äldres anatomiska skrifter och striden med Thomas Bartholin’ in Samlaren 1904, pp 37-57; Lindroth, Sten ’Harvey, Descartes, and young Olaus Rudbeck’ in Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, XII, 1957, pp 209-19; Eriksson G., Rudbeck 1630-1702. Liv, lärdom, dröm i barockens Sverige (2002), pp 65 ff;  Waller 4320 (Pecquet’s copy !). 

The first editions of Pecquet, Bartholin and Rudbeck are all in Garrison-Morton 1095, 1096, 1097, 1098;  Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine, 28.  

Waller 4320 (Pecquet’s copy!).

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