WILLIS, Thomas.

Cerebri Anatome: cui accessit nervorum descriptio et usus.

Londini: Typis Ja. Flesher, Impensis Jo. Martyn & Ja. Allestry…1664

4to, 20 leaves, pp. 106, (2), 107–456, and 15 anatomical copperplates (10 folding). Imprimatur leaf (here bound after the title). Upper margin of title-page torn away and very neatly restored with old paper (removal of an inscription with the offset faintly visible at the top of the imprimatur), some foxing and light browning throughout. Contemporary calf, very nicely rebacked with spine richly gilt in compartments, red morocco label, corners repaired, edges sprinkled red. Two early signatures on title-page (one partly erased and the other inked out).

FIRST EDITION. G&M 1378. With this book Willis laid the foundation of cerebral anatomy. It was the most complete and accurate account of the nervous system which had hitherto appeared. “The Cerebri anatome, published early in 1664, is the foundation document of the anatomy of the central and autonomic nervous systems. It greatly surpassed, in the detail and precision of its descriptions, the fragmentary treatments of the brain that has preceded it. As a text it continued to be used until the late eighteenth century, and was mandatory background reading for neuro-anatomists until the mid-nineteenth century” (DSB). In the preparation of this book Willis was helped by Richard Lower, and its illustrations are by Sir Christopher Wren. In it Willis recognized the sympathetic nervous system and accepted the brain as the organ of thought; he also coined the word “neurology”. His classification of the cerebral nerves held the field until the time of Soemmerring. The book includes the description of the “circle of Willis”, and of the eleventh cranial nerve (“nerve of Willis”). This first edition in quarto is of considerable rarity, such that several of the great collections, including Osler and Cushing, record only the octavo edition published several weeks later. Wing W2824. Grolier One Hundred (Medicine) 32a. Lilly, Notable medical books, 77. McHenry pp. 55–58 (illustrating the title-page). Russell, British anatomy, 866. Albert, Norton & Hurtes, Source book of ophthalmology, 2530. Norman Catalogue 2243.


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