FABRIZIO, Girolamo (Hieronymous Fabricius ab Aquapendente).

De Formatione Ovi, et Pulli Tractatus Accuratissimus.

Patavii [Padua]: ex Officina Aloysii Bencii Bibliopolae, .1621

Folio, 2 leaves, 68 pages, 1 leaf, 4 engraved plates; also 3 full-page engravings on text leaves, all with numerous figures. Woodcut device on title. Dampstain in the lower margin and faintly at the foot of the plates, tiny hole in the last plate not affecting any engraved figure, figure numbers on one engraving and two plates just shaved at top (the other two plates folded in). Modern limp vellum antique, green silk ties.

FIRST EDITION. G&M 466. The first of Fabrici’s extant works on embryology, and probably his rarest book. The book includes the first printed figures of the development of the chick. It was Fabrici who for the first time exhaustively applied the ‘new’ Vesalian method of direct observation to the study of embryos. The work contains the best description of the reproductive tract of the hen up to that time. Fabrici discovered the bursa now called bursa Fabrici and was the first to establish with any degree of accuracy the role played by the ovary and oviduct in the formation of the hen’s egg. He was the first to describe the germinal disc distinctly. De formatione ovi et pulli is divided into two parts. The first, in three chapters, deals with the formation of the egg. The first chapter discusses the three bases of animal generation given by Aristotle, the egg, the seed, and spontaneous generation from decomposing materials. In the second chapter Fabrici states two functions of the “uterus”: the formation of the egg, and, immediately thereafter, its nutrition. The third chapter concerns the usefulness of the uterus. The second part of the treatise, also in three chapters, is concerned with the generation of the chick within the egg, and begins with a description of the eggs of various species. The second chapter of the second part deals with the three basic functions of the egg: the formation, growth, and nutrition of the chick. He concludes his discussion with the trophic functions of both yolk and albumen. Fabrici then speculates further on the various possible causes and conditions on generation, including a discussion of the order in which various parts of the embryo are formed during its development. The last chapter of the treatise returns to teleology to consider the utility of both the egg and the semen of the rooster. (See DSB for a long account of this book.) Although published posthumously, the De formatione ovi et pulli was written before the De formato foetu (1604). It was printed in the same sumptuous format. Needham describes the illustrations as “beautiful and accurate”, and they are remarkable for their accuracy and detail, obtained without any magnification. Needham, History of embryology, 87–90. See also Adelmann, The embryological treatises of Hieronymus Fabricius of Aquapendente. Norman Catalogue 752.


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