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LANCISI, Giovanni Maria (1654–1720)

De motu cordis et aneurysmatibus. Opus postumum in duas partes divisum.
Neapoli, Felix-Carolus Musca, 1738.

Second edition of a classic early book on aneurysms that “laid the foundation for a true understanding of cardiac pathology” (Garrison-Morton). In 1706 Pope Clement XI asked Lancisi to examine a mysterious increase in the number of sudden deaths, which during the year had assumed the proportions of an epidemic. Lancisi reported in 1707 by publishing De subitaneis mortibus (On Sudden Death), and extended his studies of the problems of cardiac pathology in a second work, De motu cordis et aneurysmatibus. It was almost ready for the press at his death, but not published until eight years later, in 1728, a folio of great rarity. Lancisi deals masterly in the present work with cardiac pathology in general, demonstrating “that sudden deaths were often due to hypertrophy and dilatation of the heart, and to various kinds of valve defects.” (DSB). He also “gave the first description of valvular vegetation, and included in his book are a historical survey of the literature and a classification of the cardiac diseases then recognized. Leibowitz in The History of Coronary Heart Disease (1970) suggests that Lancisi’s work ‘must be the first epidemiological study of a non-communicable condition.’ During his life Lancisi collected a personal medical library of considerable size, well over 20 000 volumes, which he donated to the Hospital of Santo Spirito. The Bibliotheca Lancisiana, as it is named, is one of the greatest historical medical libraries in Europe and of basic importance for the history of medicine.

Collation: Pp. (4) incl. half-title, xxviii, 219, (1) bl., pp 177-78 torn with loss of text. With 8 engraved plates (of which 6 large folding) numbered I-IV, VI-VII, plate V placed at p 82, and one unnumbered at p 171. Title printed in red and black with engraved vignette. Plates and vignette signed B. de Grado.

Binding: Contemporary mottled calf with five raised bands, gilt floral spine decorations, red morocco spine label with gilt lettering, nice “French-curls” marbled endpapers, red edges.

References: Garrison-Morton 2973 (Rome, 1728); Bedford 239 (Naples, 1738); DSB, VII, 613-614; Major, Classic Descriptions of Disease, pp 448-450; Eimas, Heirs of Hippocrates, 687; Hagelin, Rare and Important Medical Books SLS, p 109; Norman 1273 (Rome, 1728); Christie’s Norman Sale 594. SLS 500. Waller 5541 (Naples 1738).

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