JENNER, Edward (1749-1823). An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae, a Disease discovered in some of the Western Counties of England, particularly Gloucestershire, and known by the name of the Cow Pox. London: Sampson Low, for the author, 1798.
4o (248 x 208 mm). 4 engraved plates by William Skelton, color-printed in sanguine and enhanced with some hand-coloring (artist's name cropped off or shaved). Half title, errata leaf. (Some very light browning and occasional foxing to text and plates.) Contemporary diced calf (rebacked). Provenance: unknown recipient (presentation inscription on title, trimmed by binder); Arthur Wilmer Lissauer (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY JENNER on the title-page (names cropped). A MEDICAL CLASSIC, ANNOUNCING "ONE OF THE GREATEST TRIUMPHS IN THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE" (Garrison-Morton), and "the basis of the modern science of immunology" (PMM). Attempts to use mild strains of the disease to inoculate against smallpox had begun in India, China, and Turkey, and this still-dangerous and unreliable "variolation" was brought to England in 1718. Jenner, a country paractitioner in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, became curious about the country wisdom that milkmaids who contracted cowpox, a common and non-fatal infection transferred from cattle, were safe from smallpox. In 1796, Jenner's experiments confirmed this belief, and in 1798 he published this account of 23 successful vaccinations. "Jenner started one of the greatest practical advances in preventitive medicine and today there are innoculations ... against scarlet fever, typhoid fever, diptheria, whooping-cough and tetanus, as well as ... bubonic plague, cholera and yellow fever" (PMM). The success of Jenner's work led to the announcement of the World Health Organisation in 1980 that natural smallpox had been eradicated. Dibner Heralds of Science 127; Garrison-Morton 5423; Grolier Medicine 53; Heirs of Hippocrates 1086; Grolier/Horblit 56; William Lefanu A bibliography of Edward Jenner, 8 (2nd ed., n.p., 1985); Norman 1162; PMM 250; Wellcome III, p. 351.