VESALIUS, Andreas (1514-64). De humani corporis fabrica librorum epitome. Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543.
Broadsheet 2° (517 x 365mm). 14 leaves signed A-M and an unsigned sheet after G and L. Large woodcut of an anatomy, historiated initials, author portrait, and 11 large woodcuts comprising 7 anatomical figures, 2 of Adam and Eve and 2 of several smaller figures intended to be cut out and attached to larger figures. (Central crease, title-page with a long clean tear along this fold with an early repair in the fore-margin, leaf K with some tears across the engraving and with some early repairs, some marginal tears of which some with early repairs, short wormtracks in the inside margin, some soiling, faint dampstain throughout.) 17th-century sheep, spine in compartments with blind double rules, sides in blind with narrow border of double rules and corner fleurons (spine defective, corners worn, sides scuffed). Provenance: Hans Sloane (1660-1753, physician and collector; manuscript shelf-marks ‘Pr. CCV’, cancelled, and ‘Pr. XCII’, on the front free endpaper) – British Museum (black octagonal stamp, at foot of dedication, typically reserved for Sloane’s books).
FIRST EDITION. THE GREAT PHYSICIAN AND COLLECTOR HANS SLOANE’S COPY OF THE RARE EPITOME, published virtually simultaneously with the Fabrica, Vesalius's revolutionary work on anatomy. Vesalius conceived the Epitome as a complement to the fuller work and serving as a practical anatomical atlas to be consulted on a daily basis by medical students performing human dissections – much as Sloane may have done during his medical training. To this end, Vesalius had it printed in a large format so that its separate sheets could be hung as wall charts for instruction and easy visual reference. This required seven woodcut figures to be newly cut in a larger size; the remaining illustrations were first used in the fuller work. The Epitome was widely disseminated but because it was 'not necessarily bound, the Epitome is considerably rarer than the Fabrica today' (Grolier Medicine, 18b). 'It is a very rare work and is incomplete [or completed] in most of the existing copies' (Heirs). Sloane’s library, one of the largest in Europe for its time, was particularly notable for its holdings in medicine and science; remarkably, given the Epitome’s great rarity, Sloane also owned a copy printed on vellum, which is still in the British Library (Sloane number Pr. CCCXXXVII). Cf. Pozeg and Flamm 'Vesalius and the 1543 Epitome...' PBSA, 103:2, 2009, 199-220. Heirs of Hippocrates 291; Choulant-Frank p.180; Cushing V-85; NLM/Durling 4581; Garrison-Morton 376; Stillwell 711; Wellcome 6565.