Considerations on the Medicinal Use, and on the Production of Factitious Airs. Thomas BEDDOES, James WATT.
Considerations on the Medicinal Use, and on the Production of Factitious Airs.

Considerations on the Medicinal Use, and on the Production of Factitious Airs.

Ten engraved plates (six folding) & two folding letterpress tables (numbered 1-4 on two sheets). Five parts in three, all bound in one vol. 8vo, cont. tree-calf (well-rebacked, corners a little worn, minor browning & offsetting). Bristol: Printed by Bulgin and Rosser, for J. Johnson…London. 1796-[95-96].

Third edition of Parts I & II, first editions of Parts III-V, a complete set of all the published parts (collations as in ESTC). Beddoes was the first to suggest that the inhalation of certain gases would relieve pain, and in 1798 he founded the Pneumatic Institute in Bristol, a research institution for the study of inhalation therapy, largely funded by Josiah Wedgwood. The laboratory’s apparatuses was designed by James Watt and manufactured by Boulton & Watt. Beddoes appointed the 19-year-old Humphry Davy as superintendent. There, Davy undertook an extensive series of chemical and physiological experiments on “factitious airs,” and in 1799 produced pure nitrous oxide and discovered its analgesic properties.

Between 500 and 600 copies of the first edition of this book, consisting of 80 pages, were published in October 1794. A second edition was published the following year consisting of Parts I and II, closely followed by the present third edition. Complete sets of all five parts are extremely rare.

The first part, by Beddoes, covers experiments that he conducted on humans and animals subjected to inhaling various gases and includes correspondence and cases from many distinguished physicians. It is notable for a letter from Richard Pearson (pp. 74–76) describing the effects of ether inhalation in cases of tuberculosis. The second part is a description of the apparatus used to prepare gases by Watt. Parts III–V consist principally of cases and accounts of treatment, including some by well-known people, but also has another description of a simplified apparatus by Watt.

In his institution, Beddoes “investigated the best ways to procure and apply gaseous agents in large quantities…Beddoes wrote much of this five-part work in collaboration with engineer James Watt, who became involved in the project after the death of his daughter from consumption in June 1794. Beddoes described cases in which gases had been tried, and Watt explained the function of apparatuses he had designed for the experiments. Beddoes cautioned against trials on humans and instead experimented on animals.”–Sim, The Heritage of Anesthesia, p. 217.

A very nice set. Tear in one folding table neatly repaired without loss.

❧ Duncum, The Development of Inhalation Anaesthesia, pp. 64–70. Fulton & Stanton I.8–the first edition. Neville I, pp. 114–115–with Part III in second edition–“A classic early pioneering work in chemical anesthesia.”.

Price: $5,000.00

Item ID: 6943

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