JENNER, Edward (1749-1823). An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccine, 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 (275 x 215 mm). 4 engraved plates by William Skelton after Skelton and E. Pearce, color-printed in sanguine and enhanced with some hand-coloring. Half-title, errata leaf. (Some very light occasional foxing to text and plates.) Contemporary half calf, speckled boards (rebacked preserving original spine, front free endpaper loose); modern cloth folding case.
Provenance: R. R. Macintosh: bookplate, sale, Sotheby's, New York, 3 March 1975, lot 230 (to Lathrop Harper).
Two unpublished plates in a separate cloth folding case, each approximately 278 x 215 mm, the first with printed title at head: "3rd Day , Cow Pox , Small Pox" (Le Fanu, p.55, plate [C]); the second with manuscript title in lower left corner: "Spurious Pustule. 6th day." (Le Fanu, p.55 plate [D]). (Some pale dampstaining.)
Provenance: [Pickering and Chatto, list 63 no. 20]
FIRST EDITION, WITH TWO UNPUBLISHED PLATES, OF "ONE OF THE GREAT TRIUMPHS IN THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE" (Garrison-Morton) and "the basis of the modern science of immunology" (PMM).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 May 1796 Jenner found a young dairymaid, Sarah Nelmes, who had fresh cowpox lesions on her finger. Using matter from Sarah's lesions, he inoculated an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps, who then developed a slight fever and a low-grade lesion. On July 1 Jenner inoculated the boy again, this time with smallpox matter. No disease developed.
In 1798 he published this account of 23 successful vaccinations. In addition to the landmark discovery of the success of preventive inoculations against smallpox, the Inquiry was the first work to note the phenomenon of anaphlaxis or allergy. Within ten years of publication, Jenner was awarded 30,000 pounds by Parliament in acknowledgment of his great services. "Jenner started one of the greatest practical advances in preventive medicine and today there are inoculations ... 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.
The Wellcome Library owns a collection of loose plates, including impressions of the two present here. The ten copies of the first plate are similarly titled, although of their eleven copies of the second, only one is lettered. The "Spurious Pustule" plate illustrates Jenner's pamphlet On the Varieties and Modifications of the Vaccine Pustule (1806) but was not issued with it. There is no evidence to date these plates, although two letters from Jenner to Benjamin Waterhouse in 1801 indicate that at least the first plate may have been issued by that date. Copies of plate [C] are bound into copies of the first and third editions of the Inquiry in the Harvey Cushing collection at Yale.
Dibner Heralds of Science 127; Garrison-Morton-Norman 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. (2)