Final Book Collection: Medical History

For my book collection, I decided to focus on books that will be pertinent to my chosen profession: medicine. Though I have not chosen a specialty yet, cardiology has always interested and appealed to me, so my collection highlights a focus on the heart as well as displays many general medical texts and artifacts. Surgical books are an interest of mine, so I have also included some surgical texts that I found interesting. Since medicine is a practice as old as time, there are many books available about medicine, and many collectible books that aren’t used anymore. Most of the books in my collection are from the 1700’s or the 1800’s, as this is the time period when I think the medical “advances” were the most interesting and useful. So many positive things for the field of medicine happened in these years, and these books allow me to explore the history of medicine and understand the thought processes and approaches of historical physicians. The books that have images in them are especially fascinating, as they were almost always drawn by hand and exhibit a high level of mastery and skill. Perusing my collection will give you a feel for how medicine was practiced throughout history and how significant and major some of these medical works are. Looking into the past gives us hope for new medical advances and techniques in the future.


The first item in my collection is a classical and yet persevering medical book, Gray’s Anatomy. The copy that I have found is an original first edition, written by Henry Gray. The book was published in 1858 by John W. Parker and Son in London with illustrations by Henry Vandyke Carter. This copy was acquired from the library of Arthur W. Atwood, and has his signature in the book, dated 1870. This book is arguably the most well-known medical book in history and is in good condition.

Title: Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical

Publisher: John W. Parker and Son, London

Publication Date: 1858

Edition: First Edition

Gray, Henry. Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical. London: John W. Parker and Son, 1858. Print.


Cost: $9,500 from B & L Rootenberg Rare Books, ABAA


The next book in my collection is a book I found about the heart, and it is entitled The Anatomical Exercises Concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood. This book is debatably the most important book in the history of medicine. In it, the author, William Harvey, experimentally proved that in animals, the blood is impelled in a circle by the beat of the heart, passing through arteries to veins through what he described as “pores” (capillaries). This book is an invaluable milestone in the history of medicine and Harvey’s revelations propelled medicine into the next generation as it was one of the first records of a complete biological investigation. The book is worn, but in reasonable condition for its age.

Title: The Anatomical Exercises Concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood

Publisher: Printed by Francis Leach, London

Publication date: 1653

Edition: First Edition

Harvey, William. The Anatomical Exercises Concerning the Motion of the Heart and Blood. London:          Francis Leach, 1653. Print.



Cost: $74,589.02 from Nigel Phillips, ABA


Another book that was written by William Harvey is a second book of Harvey’s theory and proof of the circulation of blood. Harvey was also a professor of physics and the personal physician to King Charles the first, which gives this book provenance and also adds extreme value. This 1673 edition is even more rare than the 1653 edition due to the extensive popularity of the first book and the success his discoveries had after his first publication.

Title: The Anatomical Exercises of Doctor William Harvey

Publisher: Richard Lowndes

Publication date: 1673

Edition: Second Edition

Harvey, William. The Anatomical Exercises of Doctor William Harvey. 2nd ed. London: Richard Lowndes,                1673. Print.


Cost: $12,000 from Ted Steinbock


The next book in my collection is a general anatomy book that would have been useful for any type of doctor in the 1900’s and is now a relic of past medicine for present doctors. An Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Medicine, Surgery, and Pathology is a medical picture book that contains images of accurate portrayals of the human body in both black and white and color. This book contains volumes 1-25 and is in good condition.

Title: An Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Medicine, Surgery, and

Publisher: The New Sydenham Society

Publication date: 1902

Edition: First Edition

An Atlas of Illustrations of Clinical Medicine, Surgery, and Pathology. Vol. 1-25. N.p.: The New Sydenham            Society, 1902. Print.


Cost: $5,500 from Redux Books


Now we come to another early book on cardiology; Novum vasorum corporis humani systema, which is a book by Raymond Vieussens on blood vessels and the structure of the chambers of the heart, first published in 1706, this was the first publication to provide an anatomical description of the heart’s chambers. This is interesting to me as I consider a future in cardiology because the chambers of the heart and the anatomy of the organ are vital to understanding the workings and treatments of the heart. Since this book is from 1706, the pictures were probably hand drawn before being put into the book, making the book even more special and unique.

Title: Novum vasorum corporis humani systema

Publisher: Amstelodami: Apud Paulum Marret

Publication Date: 1706

Edition: First Edition

Vieussens, Raymond. Novum vasorum corporis humani systema. N.p.: Amstelodami: Apud Paulum       Marret, 1706. Print.


Belongs to the Medical Heritage Library



The next section of my collection contains medical novels that I have collected (digitally). Though I am entering a career in the medical field, I love to read novels, and so I thought I would combine the two. This first novel The Children’s Hospital is a novel about the interworking’s of a hospital after the earth is flooded and it begins to float. The story follows characters who are medical students, residents, doctors, and hospital workers as they take care of their patients in the dramatic situation. I wanted to add this book to my collection because though it is not old or highly-esteemed in the medical community, I feel that it is important to incorporate different types of books to my collection, books that I could realistically own and read.

Title: The Children’s Hospital

Publisher: McSweeny’s, South Point

Publication Date: 2006

Edition: First Edition

Adrian, Chris. The Children’s Hospital. South Point: McSweeney’s, 2006. Print.


Cost: $5.95 from


Next in my series of medical novels is a medical mystery called The Eleventh Plague, which is a science fiction novel considering the possibility of a modern day Armageddon. In the book, the author parallels the 10 plagues in Exodus in the Bible. This book is added to my collection because it deals with the very real possibility of a plague on earth and how the population would or could respond. This is interesting to me as a future physician, since managing disease will be a part of my everyday life.

Title: The Eleventh Plague

Publisher: Scholastic Books

Publication Date: 2011

Edition: First Edition

Hirsch, Jeff. The Eleventh Plague. New York: Scholastic Books, 2011. Print.


Cost: $5.59 on


The final medical novel that will be added to my collection is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Though this book is actually non-fiction, it is a fascinating medical discovery and the story that goes along with it is surprising as well as amazing. Cancerous cells from Ms. Lacks were taken without her knowledge in 1951 and have been growing ever since, playing a vital role in developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and in vitro fertilization, all after her death. It is a story not only of medical innovation, but also of medical ethics.

Title: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group

Publication Date: 2010

Edition: First Edition

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: The Crown Publishing Group, 2010.      Print.


$10.98 on


Next in my collection is a collectible poster of one of the most famous graphics in medicine, the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci. This image was originally drawn with pen on paper in 1490 and is a unique blend of science and art. It is a must-have for any collection on medicine. This depiction is a poster copy of the original and would be kept with my collection of books, since it is a vital part of medical history and was a major revelation to physicians at the time, when they realized the perfect proportions of the human body.

Title: Vitruvian Man

Artist: Leonardo da Vinci

Date: 1490

da Vinci, Leonardo. Vitruvian Man. 1490. Ink on paper. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.


Cost: $350 at


Since I plan on attending medical school within the next couple years, I added this next book to my collection. The name of it is A Discourse Upon the Institution of Medical Schools in America by John Morgan. It is a first edition of the first book published in the North American British colonies on medical education. With this address, Morgan proposed a system for medical education in America and then founded the first medical school in America in Philadelphia. I love history, and learning the history of the medical schools in the United States would be of much interest to me.

Title: A Discourse Upon the Institution of Medical Schools in America

Publisher: William Bradford, Philadelphia

Publication Date: 1765

Edition: First Edition

Morgan, John. A Discourse Upon the Institution of Medical Schools in America. Philadelphia: William       Bradford, 1765. Print.


Cost: $7,500 from the William-Reese Company


This book is called The Science and Art of Surgery by John Erichsen. It’s a book from 1854 with wood cut engravings and was the most popular textbook on surgery for many years. It has details about what a surgery would have been like in the 1900’s and how the physicians would have prepared for surgery. Since bacteria and germs were not discovered yet, surgery was not very successful and this book would give an account of how best to treat a patient in these conditions. This is a valuable addition to the collection because of the history and interesting procedures in it.

Title: The Science and Art of Surgery

Publisher: Blanchard and Lea, Philadelphia

Publication Date: 1854

Edition: First Edition

Erichsen, John. The Science and Art of Surgery. Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1854. Print.


Cost: $1,300 from Houle Rare Books


This next book is a book I found on the Morrow Library website. It is entitled De virginitatis notis, graviditate & partu and this volume is the only publication in which Pierre Gassendi wrote his description of the foremen ovale of the heart. This book is fascinating to me, not only because of the medical significance, but also that it is available to be seen by Marshall Students. It contains some of the first studies done on this section of the heart, so it is a very important book.

Title: De virginitatis notis, graviditate & partu

Publisher: LVGD Batavor

Publication Date: 1650


Pineau, Severin, Luigi Bonancciuoli, Felix Platter, Pierre Gassendi, and Melchoi Sebish. De virginitatis      notis, graviditate & partu. N.p.: LVGD Batavor, 1650. Print.


Cost: unkown


Next up is an all-important anatomy book called The Anatomy of Humane Bodies by William Cowper. This book is a beautiful anatomical atlas that was written by a very prominent physician in 1698. William Cowper did research on many systems of the body, including the reproductive system. There is even a gland in the male reproductive system called the Cowper’s gland, after William Cowper. The inside of the book contains an early owner’s inscription that adds provenance and value to the book.

Title: The Anatomy of Humane Bodies

Publisher: Smith & Walford, London       

Publication Date: 1698

Edition: First Edition

Cowper, William. Anatomy of Humane Bodies. London: Smith & Walford, 1698. Print.


Cost: $15,000 from Jeremy Norman’s History of Science

This next book focuses more on the surgical aspect of medicine and was an important instruction guide and learning tool for surgeons in the nineteenth century. This book is especially important, since it was during this time that germs and bacteria were being discovered and sanitization allowed surgical procedures to become much more effective. It is a leather bound copy and contains many illustrations and diagrams.

Title: Pancoast’s Operative Surgery

Publisher: A. Hart            

Publication Date: 1852


Pancoast, Joseph. Pancoast’s Operative Surgery. N.p.: A. Hart, 1852. Print.


Cost: $1,250 from Seguiter Books


This next book in my collection is one that I found particularly interesting because it is about diseases and the ways in which they were thought to be prevented in the 1700’s. I find it fascinating to look back into history and see the “medical advances” that we now find so obvious and commonplace. This book was new information in 1794 and was the future of medicine.


Title: A Treatise on the Prevention & Cure of Diseases

Publisher: A. Strahan & T. Cadell, London             

Publication Date: 1794

Edition: Fourteenth Edition

Buchan, William. A Treatise on the Prevention & Cure of Diseases. 14th ed. London: A. Strahan & T.           Cadell, 1794. Print.


Cost: $600 from Collector’s Treasury


This book is another treasure found thanks to Morrow Library, and it is a book written by a medical genius, Jean Astruc, who was one of the most learned men in France in the 18th Century in both medicine and religion. This book is a reflection of over 600 authors, as well as his proclamation that sailors returning with Columbus after discovering America introduced syphilis to the New World.

Title: De Morbis Venereis

Publisher: Guillelmum Cavelier 

Publication Date: 1740

Edition: Second Edition

Astruc, Jean. De Morbis Venereis. 2nd ed. N.p.: Guillelmum Cavelier, 1740. Print.


Cost: unknown


This book was written by a more famous medical scientist named William Curie, who served as a surgeon during the American Revolution and provided a geographic nature of disease study, the first in the United States. This book had a massive impact on the way that people treated illness and began the movement to try and prevent disease rather than fight the infection that ensues.

Title: An Historical Account of the Climates and Diseases of the United States of America

Publisher: T. Dorian        

Publication Date: 1792

Edition: First Edition

Curie, William. An Historical Account of the Climates and Diseases of the United States of America.           Philadelphia: T. Dorian, 1792. Print.


Cost: Unknown


The final section of my collection focuses on some rare medical artifacts that were collected to enhance my assemblage. This first one is a head mirror, worn by physicians to diagnosis conditions of the ear, nose, or throat by providing focused light. The mirror would focus light into a smaller area so that the doctor could examine small orifices on the patient’s body. Though primitive to physicians now, this instrument was a crucial part of a doctor’s reservoir in the 1900’s. This artifact was manufactured between 1925 and 1945 and is a rare find.

Artifact: Head Mirror

Date of Manufacture: 1925-1945

Manufacturer: Boilo

Condition: Used, but good


Cost: Unknown


The next object is a somewhat unique and obscure medical device called a urethral sounding kit. This would have been used in the nineteenth century to increase the inner diameter of the urethra through sounds to locate obstructions in it. Doctor’s used these to treat patients with urethral blockage and the device required extensive knowledge on the instruments and how they worked. This kit is from the late 1800’s and is an antique.

Artifact: Urethral Sounding Kit

Date of Manufacture: 1878-1874

Manufacturer: Philip H. Schimdt

Condition: Used, but good


Cost: Unknown


This next artifact was used in one of the most common treatments in the nineteenth century, bloodletting. During this period, it was common for doctors to bleed patients for any number of diseases. Bleeding was thought to cure many illnesses such as viral infection s or the common cold, but this procedure sometimes did more harm than good. This fleam and lancet are brass and are collectible items from medical history, since they will never be made or used again.

Artifact: Fleam and Lancet

Date of Manufacture: 1820-1850

Manufacturer: Unknown

Condition: Slightly worn


Cost: Unknown





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May 8, 2013 · 12:29 am

Looking Forward: The Future of Books

The main topic for discussion this week was about the future of books in light of digital books. With the new wave of technology that came with ebooks, it is difficult to determine how this revolution will affect paper books, book stores, libraries, and even the authors and publishers of books. An ebook, or digital book, is a book length publication in digital form, consisting of texts, images, or both, readable on electronic devices.

According to an article called The Future of Books, Bookstores and Publishers, there has been a monumental shift away from hard copy books, towards digital books. Although this may be the case, what we are seeing is not necessarily the death of hard copy books, but rather, a shift in how we read. Bookstores are also affected by this change, but if they become flexible, they too will avoid becoming obsolete. Bookstores may have to begin selling ebooks or special hard copies to stay in business.

In another article from the same website, entitled The Effect of E-Books and E-Readers on Authors, I found that there are both benefits and drawbacks to being an author in the digital book era. The benefit for mainstream authors is that they get more advertising and publicity if they publish a digital book, For this reason, self-published books are also prospering in this industry. On the other hand, piracy becomes a major concern when authors allow their work on the internet. Also, royalty contracts and technical limitations are both drawbacks to ebooks.

Overall, I do not believe that hard copy books will ever die out. There is somethings undeniably special about holding a beautiful book in your hands, turning the pages, and experiencing the history of the work.

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A Word on Bookplates

My drawing of the bookplate I'd like to make

My drawing of the bookplate I’d like to make

Sample bookplate with a lighthouse

Sample bookplate with a lighthouse

Ever since the fifteenth century, many distinguished artists and their patrons have put great emphasis on the art form that is bookplates. Book plates represent a miniature art form that was originally developed to adorn books, it was also a convenient way to individually identify books in a collection. Many bookplates are printed with the words “ex libris” which means “from the library of” and the design is characteristic of the person that owned the book.

After much thought, I decided that I wanted my bookplate to depict a lighthouse on the water. The original idea came to me because my family has visited numerous lighthouses on our family vacations and we love looking at them. But after thinking further into the symbol, I realized that it stood for many things that are important in my life.  A lighthouse symbolizes light and hope in the midst of darkness, and is a reminder that we are not alone in the darkness. A lighthouse also symbolizes salvation, since the lighthouse was created to save lost ships. This relates to me because my faith is a huge part of my life, as I believe in my savior Jesus Christ.

Finally, the lighthouse is a symbol for learning, since it brings light to that which is dark, just like education brings knowledge to those who are in the dark. I liked this metaphor because I have always made my education a top priority, and I think learning is the most fun part of life. For my bookplate, I would like it to have a lighthouse across the water, with its light shining through the darkness. My name and “ex libris” would be below.

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Edible Book Process

The final product - our edible book!

The final product – our edible book!

Coloring the book with vanilla extract

Coloring the book with vanilla extract

Rolling out the fondant

Rolling out the fondant

Icing our book-shaped cakes

Icing our book-shaped cakes

Kneading the fondant

Kneading the fondant

For the past couple weeks, my focus has shifted from my beautiful book to the Edible Book contest that took place this week.The contest is an annual event that is celebrated around April the first with edible treats that somehow portray books. My partner Jenna Barbour and I decided that we wanted to make our Edible Book portraying Gray’s Anatomy, since we are both aspiring to become doctors.

The process of making our Edible Book included many steps, a few of which include baking two cakes, icing them, making fondant, rolling out the fondant, and transferring images onto the cake. To begin with, Jenna printed two images from the Gray’s Anatomy book and had them transferred to edible paper at the grocery store. We then bought all the ingredients we would need to make cake and fondant and began baking the cakes. The fondant was the most difficult part, as we had to mix almost an entire bag of powdered sugar into some melted marshmallows. We then rolled out the fondant and placed it over top the shaped and iced cakes, smoothing it down. The images were then transferred to the cakes much like stickers, and we blended the white background with vanilla extract to make it look old. The scalpel and glasses were made of excess fondant and placed on top.

I think this experience has helped me explore books in a new way. By thinking of a different way to portray a book , you get to see it as a work of art from a different perspective. Seeing all the final projects at the Edible Book Tea was a really great way to see how other people interpreted and created their books. Overall, this was a great experience and it has given me a new way to look at books and interpret and understand their meaning. This project also  gave me new insight into my own beautiful book, as I can now think of ways that it could be portrayed as an edible book.

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Provenance of Mead’s Poisons

The Hoffman Collection at Marshall University

The Hoffman Collection at Marshall University

New York Academy of Medicine

New York Academy of Medicine

The New York Hospital, 1931

The New York Hospital, 1931

This week I began a quest to learn the history behind my book and the places and people it has seen.Since my book came into existence in 1745, it has had a long life to be discovered and studied. To begin this search, I looked at the title page of the book, which boasts two stamps that revealed a bit of interesting history.

The book began in London England, where it was published in 1745. From there, I could find no record of the book until 1898. The first stamp on the title page is one from the New York Hospital, dated December 5, 1898. The New York Hospital was established by King George III of England in June of 1771. It was originally a military hospital as well as a teaching hospital for medical students. Interestingly, Richard Mead, the author of Mead’s Poisons was appointed to be the personal physician to King George II. Somehow his book ended up in a hospital chartered by his son, King George III.

The next stamp in the book is from the New York Academy of Medicine’s library. The academy was founded in 1847 by a group of leading New York physicians as a voice for the medical profession in medical practice and public health reform. There is no date on this stamp, so the time period that the book was in this library can only be speculated. The final stamp only tells us that the book was discarded from the New York Academy of Medicine’s library.

As we know, the final resting place of this copy of Mead’s Poisons is in Marshall University’s Hoffman Collection, located in Morrow Library. There it is maintained in the special collections section by Professor Lisle Brown. From my research, I learned that my book boasts a long and unique history. This provenance adds a lot of value to the book, knowing where all it has been. This book has created its own life from the history it has been through, and its story is unlike any other.

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The Beauty of Artist Books

A sculpture artist book called "Teleautomaton" by Brian Dettmer.

A sculpture artist book called “Teleautomaton” by Brian Dettmer.

The "Fern Book" by Judith Hoffman, a shaped artist book.

The “Fern Book” by Judith Hoffman, a shaped artist book.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of an artist book is “a work of art realized in the form of a book”. These books are usually published in small or limited editions and can employ a wide range of forms including scrolls, fold-outs, concertinas, and printed sheets. Though Mead’s Poisons is not an artist book, I would like to explore some aspects that make artist books so special and unique.

The artist book movement began with William Blake in the early 1800’s. He and his wife wrote, illustrated, printed, colored, and bound many books that are considered artist books such as Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Most writers on the subject cite Blake in their work, as he was the first to merge handwritten texts and images. Since its conception, the artist book has gone through many metamorphoses, allowing artists to widen their presence to places and people outside the gallery.

One of the things that distinguishes artist books from other art forms is that they are usually intended to be portable. These books often come with specially created cases or containers to help with storage, protection, and transportation. These special books are mixed media and combine many different artistic processes. These books are meant to be touched and interacted with and not all of their physical attributes are visible at once. A single work may have a number of different display possibilities, the artist can interact with the book or the book may transform itself.

To find artist books, the best place to look would be in large public libraries, university special collections or art libraries, specialized dealers and bookstores, drawing collections, or museum libraries. These books are usually limited editions and are not found in bookstores.

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Description of a Beautiful Book

Page of the book, showing the enlarged margins.

Page of the book, showing the enlarged margins.

Image of Richard Mead, physician and author of Mead's Poisons.

Image of Richard Mead, physician and author of Mead’s Poisons.

The beauty of a book usually comes from the physical aspects associated with the book. But there are many other characteristics that can make a book beautiful before you even see it. A book description can give not only a visual image of the book, but also a description of its character. Since the book I am researching this semester is both old and valuable, it brings with it a very interesting book description.

When searching for said descriptions, the first one I came across was the one on Marshall Universtiy’s website for the Hoffman Collection at the Morrow Library. Under the book’s description, there is a detailed account of who the author, Richard Mead, was. As an imminent London physician who was appointed to King George II, he was a very important man in his time. This gives the book both credibility and value, knowing that it was written by a well respected physician with royal ties. Anyone selling or interested buying the book would quickly see that this information adds value.

The description goes on to tell of the research methods used by Mead while gathering information for his book. His methods were surprisingly modern and usually experimental, which was unique at this time in history. One of the radical experiments Mead executed was swallowing snake venom to prove that it was only venomous when injected to the body by a snake bite. This also raises the value of the book, since Mead was doing innovative and useful research that he first documented in this book. This book and Mead’s research for it established his reputation both as a writer and a doctor, and he went on to have a very successful career.

The description goes on to say that the copy of Mead’s Poisons that is owned by Marshall University is an enlarged third edition, published in 1745. The pages in this book have been reconfigured to result in larger leaves. These leaves have wider margins, but the text on each individual page remains the same as the normal edition.

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