Observationes Medicae circa Morborum Acutorum Historiam et Curationem.

Londoni: Typis A.C. Impensis Gualteri Kettilby… 1676.1676

8vo, pp. (liv), 425, 27 leaves, engraved frontispiece portrait by Blooteling after Mary Beale. Title within double ruled border. Contemporary vellum, a little marked, head of spine repaired at an early date, later paper label. Paper very slightly browned and some mild foxing, foxing stain on pp. 51–54, otherwise a very good copy.

FIRST EDITION. A founding work in epidemiology, and Sydenham’s first book. This work includes the most minute account of measles, its differentiation from scarlatina (which he named), an important account of smallpox, and an excellent description of scarlet fever. The book was a result of clinical notes kept between 1669 and 1674, after the Great Plague of London. In the preface, Sydenham set out his ideas for ambitious therapeutic reforms, exemplified in the text with respect to epidemic diseases, paying attention to one particular factor causing seasonal and annual variations. “Sydenham’s studies in the geography and meteorology of epidemic diseases and the rhythmic periodicity of their recurrences make him, with Hippocrates and Baillou, one of the main founders of epidemiology” (Garrison). G&M 2198, 5075 (scarlet fever), 5407 (smallpox) & 5441.1 (measles). Wing S6314 (this is technically a third edition of the Methodus Curandi Febres, but is so altered and enlarged as to constitute a new work). Lilly, Notable Medical Books, 89. One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine (Exhibition Catalogue), 35. Meynell, Bibliography, 1.4. Norman catalogue 2038. For a further study of Sydenham’s theory of epidemics, see Major Greenwood in Proc. Roy. Soc. Med., XII, 55–76, 1919.


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