SANTORIO, Santorio (1561-1636). Ars de statica medica aphorismorum sectionibus septem comprehensa. Venice: Nicol Polo, 1614.
12o (130 x 69 mm). Collation: a12 A-G12. 95 leaves (of 96, without a1 blank, a2 blank present). Italic type, woodcut device on title, woodcut initials, woodcut and typographic head- and tailpiece ornaments. (Lower corner of E11 torn away with loss of about 5 words, minor staining to A4, title marginally soiled and with tiny marginal tear.) Contemporary limp vellum, traces of two ties (lacking ties, upper inner hinge broken). Provenance: remains of vellum shelfmark label on spine; Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun (signature ["Fletcher"] on title, his(?) shelfmark on recto of blank leaf a2).
EXCEPTIONALLY RARE FIRST EDITION of a medical classic. Ranked with Harvey's De motu cordis throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, called by Boerhaave the most perfect of all medical books, Santorio's Ars de statica medica "introduced quantitative experimentation into biological science" (DSB). In it Santorio describes, by means of a series of "incisive and elliptic aphorisms" (op. cit.), his researches into the variations in weight caused in the human body by ingestion and excretion. The title is based on a Hippocratic concept of health as a proper balance of the bodily humors, a state of equilibrium between the substances consumed by the organism and those rejected by it. "In Santorio's view, however, this balance was expressed not only in terms of kind but of degree as well--static medicine therefore required exact methods of detection, description, and measurement of degree with respect to what the body consumes and expels" (Grolier Medicine). Using himself as a subject, Santorio sought to verify this theory through a series of quantitative experiments carried out with the aid of a weighing-chair (a suspended chair counterbalanced by weights), pulse-clock, thermometer, and other measuring instruments, most of his own invention. From his observations he correctly concluded that a large part of excretion takes place invisibly through the skin, and showed that this perspiratio insensibilis varies considerably from day to day due to a combination of physiological and environmental factors (sleep, cold, heat, diet, fever, age, etc.) In order to carry out his program Santorio devised a number of instruments, including the thermometer (he was the first to apply fixed reference points to Galileo's thermoscope), which he was the first to use in physiological experiments and in medical practice. Through his invention and use of new instruments, Santorio "demonstrated that proper instrumentation is as important to medicine as Galileo had shown it is to physics and astronomy" (Grolier Medicine). Although he attributed exaggerated diagnostic value to his discoveries, claiming that precise knowledge of the quantity of "perspiratio insensibilis" could provide essential information for hygiene and therapeutics, Santorio made a fundamental contribution to modern medicine, by opening "the way to mathematical and experimental analysis of physiological and pathological phemomena" (DSB).
The Ars de statica medica "dazzled" Santorio's contemporaries (DSB) and was frequently reprinted and translated. Of this exceedingly rare first edition only one copy is recorded in America; the Norman copy appears to be the only copy to have come on the market in the past 40 or more years.
Garrison-Morton 573; Grolier Medicine 25 (this copy exhibited); Wellcome 5760; Norman 1890.