1615 Primitiae Anatomicae de Humani Corporis Ossibus by Petri Paaw (Pieter Pauw). Printed by Colster.


1st edition of Pieter Pauw's seminal work on the human bones, with twenty-five in-line and four fold-out illustrations, including two skeletons after Vesalius (also includes a printer's mark after Hans Holbein's Dance of Death).

Pauw participated in the founding of Leiden's anatomical theatre, the second permanent anatomical theatre built in the world, and he conducted many public dissections of criminals.

"The interesting sketches were revealed in (Pauw’s) anatomical masterpiece Primitiae anatomicae de humani corporis ossibus, published in 1615. Besides the detailed description of the bones of the body, including the bones of hand and foot, the pictures with sections of the frontal, maxillary and sphenoid bones show that he was familiar with the presence of paranasal sinuses, including maxillary one, discovery attributed erroneously to British surgeon anatomist Nathaniel Highmore (1613-1685), who described it 36 years after Pauw." - Peiter Pauw, Russian Open Journal of Medicine, Kutia and Shaymardanova

Provenance -

This copy has a rich history of surgical library provenance. The stamp of the "Chirurg. Klinik, Breslau" is found several times. The stamp of the Faculte de Medecine De Strasbourg is especially notable, because they also had an anatomical theatre. And, likely lastly, the Kaiser Univ. of Strassburg (circa 1900) stamp notes that this was a "dublette" (and the book likely went into private ownership at that time).

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 19.5 x 14 x 1.5 cm, small quarto. 1/4 crushed calf leather with leather corner guards and marbled paper covered boards. Spine with five raised bands; title and author in gilt in one compartment. Illustrated.

A note on collation - I have not found one example that had the frontis, all five fold-outs, and the dedicatory and errata leaves at the rear. There seems to have been some collation choices made at the initial point-of-sale in the 17th century.

This copy does not have the frontis portrait of the author. This copy has four fold-outs, as called for, but does not have the two skulls at 48, but rather a second Vesalian skeleton of Adam. This copy lacks an errata and/or dedicatory leaf at the rear.

Pages - (16), 188

Collation - flyleaf, *4, **4, Fold-out, A4, Fold-out, B-C4, Fold-out, D2, Fold-out, D3-4, E-Z4, Aa2, flyleaf.

Condition -

See pictures. Rebound, likely in the 20th century; some minor signs of shelf wear/rubbing but a nice binding that will last for many centuries further. Library numbers on pastedown, flyleaf.

Title with three library stamps, a tear repair (only moderately successful) with a piece of cellophane tape at the end of the tear to hold the edge from starting (unsure if what appears as cellophane is Japanese tissue cut to similar size; no toning of plastic tape). Several small ink spots at verso of title page.

Thumbing, occasional fox spot and toning throughout. Moisture intrusion at top-edge, mostly marginal but occasionally touches text. Fold-outs with occasional edge or fold-line tears, and library stamp on all. Manuscript textual correction p. 38. 58-59 possible dropped plate (square ink smudge). A little ghosting of illustrations to facing pages. Library stamp 123 and 188. Bottom corner chip 163, no text affected.

Missing frontis portrait of author, fold-out of two skulls at 48, and dedicatory and errata leaves at end. But has a second copy of the Vesalius fold-out, clearly marked for insertion at both 1 and 24. For many, there is no second Vesalius plate, and rather a fold-out of two skulls at 48. Others have noted curious states of this 1st edition (with regards to frontis, and dedicatory/errata leaves at rear especially).

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