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BEAUMONT, William (1785-1853)

Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion.
Plattsburg, printed by F. P. Allen, 1833.

First edition of the most important work on the physiology of digestion before the time of Pavlov and one of the best known of early American medical classics. “To the medical bibliographer there are few more treasured Americana than the brown-backed, poorly printed octavo volume of 280 pages with the imprint 'Plattsburgh, printed by F.P. Allen, 1833.’ (Osler) “Alexis St Martin, a Canadian half-breed who had sustained a gastric fisula, was treated and investigated by Beaumont. With his human medium, Beaumont was the first to study digestion and the movements of the stomach in vivo.” (Garrison-Morton). Benjamin Silliman, professor of chemistry at Yale University, analyzed specimens of St Martin’s gastric juice, and established the presence in it of free hydrochloric acid. A portion of the gastric juice was sent by Silliman to Berzelius, but the results of his investigation arrived too late to be included in Beaumont’s book.

Collation: Pp 280, with three wood-engraved figures in the text. Upper blank margin of title leaf cut off ca. 20 mm not affecting text. Rubber stamp of Svenska Läkaresällskapet in lower margin of title page.

Binding: Original cloth-backed boards with printed spine label.

Provenance: Inscribed on front free endpaper: To Doctor Landgren from his friend, signed [? F.W. Neantzow?] dated 27 June, 1849. Gustaf Anders Landgren was town physician in Nyköping. His medical dissertation (Uppsala 1829) was on acupuncture, the first Swedish work on the subject.

References: Garrison-Morton 989; Horblit, One Hundred Books Famous in Science 10; Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine 61; Dibner, Heralds of Science 130; Norman 152; William Snow Miller 'William Beaumont and his book’ in Annals of Medical History, N.S. vol. I (1929), pp 155-79; Grolier, One Hundred Influential American Books printed before 1900, 38; Borgström 'An early Swedish-American research collaboration. William Beaumont and Jöns J. Berzelius.’ in Sydsvenska Medicinhistoriska Sällskapets Årsskrift, 1988:1, pp 95-102; Hagelin, Rare and Important Books, SLS, 150-51. Christie’s Normal Sale, III, 920, Presentation copy. SLS 500. Simon Finch Rare Books (sept. 2004). Waller 805.

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