London, South Kensington
18 November 2003
SMELLIE, William (1697-1763). A Sett of Anatomical Tables, with Explanations, and an Abridgement, of the Practice of Midwifery, with a view to illustrate a treatise on that subject and collection of cases, London: 1754. 2° (540 x 372mm). 39 engraved plates by Grignion, 26 after drawings by Jan van Rymsdyk (d. c. 1789), 11 after Pieter Camper (1722-1789) and 2 after Smellie. (Title spotted, some light spotting or light marginal thumb-soiling, a few leaves with light offsetting from plates.) Contemporary half calf (worn). Provenance: Christ Church, Oxford (bookplate, scored and note added in manuscript: "sold Mar. 1882") -- Library of the Royal Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (bookplate).
FIRST EDITION. Rare, presumed to have been issued in only 100 copies. "Smellie, the foremost obstetrician of the eighteenth century, described more acurately than any previous writer the mechanical relation of the fetal head to the mother's pelvis during parturition. He introduced the English lock on the obstetrical forceps ... and was the first to lay down the rules for the safe use of the forceps; these remain valid today." Published 2 years after his Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Midwifery, A Sett of Anatomical Tables was intended to "illustrate as accurately as possible the female pelvis and the fetus. The plates in this classic of obstetrical illustration are far superior to any that had appeared before. They give a masterly representation, true to nature, of the relations of the parts of mother and child, and have perhaps contributed more to spreading correct ideas of labor than all the books that have ever been written on the subject." (Grolier). Blake p. 420; Garrison & Morton 6154.1; Grolier Medicine 43B; Heirs 826; Norman 1955; Waller 9012.
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