STENSEN, Niels (1638-1686). Observationes anatomicae, quibus varia oris, oculorum, & narium vasa describuntur. Leiden: Jacques Chout, 1662.
12o (123 x 66 mm). 4 parts in one, continuously paginated, section titles to parts 1-3 (part 4 being the appendix), 3 folding engraved plates of anatomical details, woodcut title vignette, initials and headpieces. (Small marginal tear to *3, first few leaves a trifle soiled, upper margin of first folding plate slightly discolored and frayed.) Modern morocco antique. Provenance: Wellcome Library (inkstamp and withdrawal stamp).
FIRST EDITION of Stensen's report of his important discoveries concerning the glandular system. Following the discoveries of Aselli, the glands and lymph vessels had become an exciting subject of scientific investigation. In 1660, while dissecting the head of a sheep, Stensen had accidentally discovered the the excretory duct of the parotid gland, the principal source of saliva for the oral cavity. Credit for the discovery was falsely claimed by Gerhard Blaes, his teacher at the time, prompting a long quarrel between the two and, more importantly, spurring Stensen to pursue his investigation of the glands. His initial discovery led him quickly to a basic understanding of the entire glandular lymphatic system. "Going against received opinion, which assigned to the glands such trivial functions as filling spaces and absorbing excess fluids, Stensen stated that the true purpose of the glands was to secrete fluid" (Norman). Conversely, his discovery "led Stensen to consider every fluid in the body as a glandular secretion. He then found a series of glands furnishing fluids to each of the body cavities... In the course of this basic research Stensen presented in his Leiden dissertation new discoveries of glands in the cheeks; beneath the tongue; and in the palate, whose structure of veins, arteries, nerves, and lymph vessels he also described. In his Observationes anatomicae... he described the lachrymal apparatus in great detail" (DSB), and was the first to elucidate its function, to facilitate the movement and cleansing of the eyelids. Garrison-Morton 973; Heirs of Hippocrates 608; NLM/Krivatsy 11434; Osler 4018; Waller 9226; Norman 2010.