The First Printed Book on the Pulse

De Pulsibus.

[48] leaves, Gothic type, ca. 32 lines. Small 4to (210 x 150 mm.), 19th-cent. cloth-backed marbled boards, red morocco lettering piece on spine. Padua: M. Cerdonis, January 1484.

First edition of the first printed book on the pulse. The art of feeling the pulse dates back to legendary antiquity in both Greek and Chinese medicine and is still used as a scientific method of investigating the functioning of the heart.

De Pulsibus is a textbook composed in verse by the French physician and humanist Gilles de Corbeil (fl. 1200), the celebrated French physician who was a pupil of the school of Salerno and Montpellier and later went to Paris, where he was archiater to Philip Augustus and probably taught in the university. Called by Neuburger “the transalpine herald of the glory of the school of Salerno,” Gilles composed three important medical poems that amplified and paraphrased the entire Salernitan doctrine in Latin hexameters.

The first poem, on urine, appeared in print in 1483; it was considered the classical text on uroscopy until the end of the 16th century. The present work, on the pulse, appeared in 1484 and Gilles’ third work was on the virtues of compounded drugs. “The description of the different kinds of pulse, methods of examining the patient, of studying the urine, advice about the behaviour of the physician, and invectives against the pharmacists are presented in facile and elegant form.”–Castiglioni, p. 316.

Gilles de Corbeil’s texts were “of great influence in transmitting the teachings of the school of Salerno.”–Stillwell 648.

The text contains the valuable commentary of Gentile da Foligno (d. 1348), the prominent professor of medicine at Bologna, Perugia, Siena, and Padua. He was the first European physician to perform a dissection on a human being. The editor was Avenantius de Camerino (15th-16th cent.).

Fine and large copy. Bookplate of Frederic Cheron.

❧ Garrison, An Introduction to the History of Medicine, p. 151. Goff A-92. Klebs 464.1. Sarton, II, pp. 440-41.

Price: $55,000.00

Item ID: 4749