SNOW, John. On the Mode of Communication of Cholera... Second edition. London: [T. Richards for] John Churchill, 1855.
8o (223 x 140 mm). 2 large folding lithographed maps by C. F. Cheffins, the second printed in 3 colors, letterpress tables, 16 leaves publisher's catalogue (of medical books) at end. (Occasional light mostly marginal spotting, both maps with a 1-inch tear at gutter, the first map very slightly darkened at margins and central fold, the second with another minor marginal tear, trace of mildew in gutters of L8-M1.) Original plum blind-stamped ripple-grain cloth, Edmonds & Remnants binders' ticket (joints split, spine chipped at head and slightly faded, corners bumped). Provenance: Mr. Beesley (author's presentation inscription on front flyleaf); R. D. Thomson(?) (inscription, "chemical analysis of the well [at] Broad St., Soho, Sep. 9 56, by Dr. R.D. Thomson"" on recto of lower free endpaper); Haskell F. Norman (bookplate; his sale Christie's New York, 29 October 1998, lot 1307).
PRESENTATION COPY of the greatly expanded second edition. The text contains the substance of all of Snow's articles published since the first edition of 1849, "together with much new matter" (Preface, p. iii), making this essentially a new work. In this edition Snow provides detailed historical and statistical evidence for his conviction that cholera is a contagious disease that attacks the alimentary canal and is communicated primarily through contaminated water. His examination of the patterns of infection of the London epidemics, correlated with a survey of the water sources in each neighborhood, was particularly conclusive. "In the great London epidemic of 1854, Snow's genius as an epidemiologist and statistician reached fruition. By meticulous survey he established [in the present work] that the areas supplied by water from the Southwark and Vauxhall Water Company, obtained from the fecal-contaminated Thames, were infected nine times more fatally than the areas supplied by the Lambeth Company, which supplied water from an upstream source. Even more dramatic was the affair of the Broad Street pump [first described here], which he showed by careful plotting to be in the center of a cholera outbreak in his own parish of Soho. Within a few hundred yards of this pump, some five hundred fatal cases occurred in ten days. Snow found that a sewer pipe passed within a few feet of the well, and his belief that contaminated water was the source of infection was vindicated when he persuaded the parish councillors to remove the pump handle" (DSB), resulting in a dramatic drop in the number of cholera cases. The first map in this edition, showing the Broad Street district with its pumps, with bar-symbols symbolizing each cholera victim, graphically documents Snow's finding; it is the first use of a spot map in epidemiology.
Thirty years before Koch's discovery of the cholera vibrio, Snow reasoned that the disease was propagated by a living organism, and recommended hygienic precautions such as boiling water of suspicious origin, washing the hands frequently, and decontaminating soiled linen. "Snow's writings and practice were a very considerable influence upon the great sanitary reformers such as Sir John Simon and Sir Edwin Chadwick in the later part of the century" (DSB). EXTREMELY RARE. Norman 1969; Waller 9036.