HARVEY, William.

Exercitationes de Generatione Animalium. Quibus accedunt quaedam De Partu: de membranis ac humoribus uteri: & de conceptione.

Londoni: Typis Du-Gardianis; impensis Octaviani Pulleyn… 1651.1651

4to, 15 leaves, pp. 301, (1), 1 leaf (blank). With the fine allegorical frontispiece and the two blank leaves C4 (intended to be cancelled) and Ss4 but lacking the first blank leaf. Woodcut headpieces and initials. Contemporary sheep, spine and corners neatly repaired, spine lettered in gilt, (later(?) gilt fillet on sides and lettering on spine rubbed and partly missing. The frontispiece, usually shaved at the bottom as it is larger than the book, is here intact at the bottom but very slightly shaved at the lower fore-edge corner, and is slightly browned. Signature of J. Braxton Hicks (1823–1897), distinguished London physician and obstetrician, on front pastedown; 19th century presentation label from him to the Birmingham Medical Institute on free endpaper, and their gilt stamp (rubbed) on the spine.

FIRST EDITION. G&M 467 and 6146: “The most important book on the subject to appear during the seventeenth century.” Harvey was among the first to disbelieve the erroneous doctrine of the preformation of the foetus. The motto of the frontispiece “Ex ovo omnia” epitomised his theory of the mammalian ovum, a theory not proven until von Baer’s discovery in 1827. Even if Harvey had not discovered the circulation of the blood, his work on embryology would have placed him among the greatest of biological scientists. The chapter on labour, De Partu, is the first original work on obstetrics to be published by an Englishman. Wing H1091. Keynes 34. Russell, British Anatomy, 375. Needham, History of Embryology, pp. 112–133. Spencer, History of British Midwifery, pp. 1–6.


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