HARVEY, William (1578-1657). Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus. Frankfurt: William Fitzer, 1628.
4o (201 x 149 mm). Collation: A-I4. 36 leaves, without quire K2 which contains the errata and is found only in a few copies. Two folding engraved plates, printer's engraved device on title page, ornamental woodcut initials, woodcut or typographical head-pieces and tail-piece. (Text browned as usual.) Old limp vellum (pastedowns partially lifted, title lettered on front cover); modern morocco folding case.
Provenance: Constantijn Huygens (1596-1687), Dutch poet, diplomat, and father of Christiaan Huygens (motto and date, "Constanter 1630", on title page); Johann Jakob Huber (1707-1778), friend of Albrecht Haller and professor of medicine at Kassel (signature, dated 1741, on flyleaf); Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840), professor of medicine at Gttingen, who contributed to the development of scientific anthropology and evolutionary theory (inscription, dated Gttingen 1774, title page, and 48 lines of text in his hand on the front pastedown); Ernst Friedrich Gustav Herbst (1803-1893), student and colleague of Blumenbach, who purchased the book at the auction of Blumenbach's library in 1840 (pencilled note "Physiol." on back pastedown); by descent to Robert Herbst who sold it in 1979.
FIRST EDITION OF ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS IN THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE AND BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE, DESCRIBING THE DISCOVERY OF THE CIRCULATION OF THE ENTIRE BLOOD SYSTEM. Harvey's theory of the circulation of the blood, parts of which were hinted at in lecture notes as early as 1616, was fully articulated and presented to the public only in 1628 in this, his first publication. The discovery was undoubtedly influenced by the account of the pulmonary circulation published by Realdo Colombo in 1559 (Part I, lot 70), and by Girolamo Fabrici's discovery of the venous valves. Harvey studied under Fabrici at Padua, and the engraved plates which illustrate De motu cordis were modelled on the illustration in Fabrici's De venarum ostiolis, published in Padua in 1603 (see lot 435). Nevertheless, "it was left for Harvey to combine these discoveries, to conceive the idea of a circulation of the entire blood system, and demonstrate it conclusively by an exhaustive series of dissections and physiological experiments" (PMM). Harvey's discovery was to become "THE CORNERSTONE OF MODERN PHYSIOLOGY AND MEDICINE" (Garrison-Morton).
De motu cordis was published in Frankfurt am Main by the Englishman William Fitzer, son-in-law and successor of Johann Theodor de Bry, who had perhaps been recommended to Harvey by his fellow-physician Robert Fludd. The paper used by Fitzer to print both text and plates for the greater part of the edition has browned with age in virtually all surviving copies. In the present copy, the plates are printed on paper with closer chain lines and a different watermark from the paper used for the text. Although the Norman catalogue describes them as having been inserted from a later edition, this is not the case. The impressions correspond to the plates in other copies of the first edition, and later editions of De motu cordis either were not illustrated or used different engravings. Moreover, the present plates have formed part of this copy from the beginning, as shown by the fact that they share the stab holes that held the newly folded and gathered sheets together until they could be bound. The two paper stocks, text and plates, found in the Norman copy correspond to those in the so-called fine paper copy of De motu cordis at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. In addition, the chain-space measurements of the text paper in these two copies match those of the so-called thin-paper copies we have examined, suggesting that the distinction between "fine paper" and "thin paper" made by Keynes needs to be reconsidered. Only the engraved plates are known on two kinds of paper (text paper or Norman/Philadelphia paper), but this hardly justifies the division of the edition into different issues.
Dibner Heralds of Science 123; Garrison-Morton 759; Grolier/Horblit 46; Grolier Medicine 27A; Heirs of Hippocrates 416; Keynes Harvey 1; NLM/Krivatsy 5328; Osler 692; PMM 127; Waller 4088; Wellcome 3069; Norman 1006.