Cinq livres de chirurgie. 1. Des bandages. 2. Des fractures. 3. Des luxations, avec une Apologie touchant les harquebousades. 4. Des morsures & piqueures venimeuses. 5. Des gouttes. [Bound with:] Traicté de la peste, de la petite Verolle & Rougeolle: avec une brefue description de la Lepre.

Paris: André Wechel, 1572; 1568.

First editions of two of Paré's most important works, both very rare, and in fine condition. “The Cinq livres contains all new material. It had been called by several serious writers Paré's chef d'oeuvre ... in it appears the first description of the fracture of the head and of the femur. Secondly, it is the first appearance of the whole teaching of bandages, fractures, and dislocations which has come down to us from the ancients, broadened by Paré's own experience ... It is undoubtedly one of his most important works” (Doe 19). The Traicté de la peste was written from direct experience of the plague: “Having passed the winter of 1564-65 on tour in Provence with Catherine de Medici and the young king Charles IX, where the ravages of a plague epidemic, added to poverty and general misery, were painfully apparent, Paré was requested by the queen mother to make whatever knowledge he possessed of the disease available to the world. He therefore puts into a book his ideas as to its cause, transmission, and treatment, and says he writes only of what he has seen by long experience during his three years at the Hôtel-Dieu, his travels, his practice in Paris, and his own slight attack while he was serving his internship. This is one of Paré's most systematic treatises; for its careful symptomatology and thorough description of treatment, it deserves to rank among the best of his writings” (Doe 14). Both works are very rare. “Paré’s original books, all very rare today, were handy volumes, small enough for the field surgeon’s knapsack” (Hagelin, p. 35). ABPC/RBH list only two other apparently complete copies of the Cinq livres (Parke Bernet, 1963 & Sotheby’s, 2016), and one of the Traicté de la peste (Sotheby’s, 2005).

Provenance: ‘C.P.L.C. du bon desser’ (contemporary ink inscription in lower margin of a2 recto); François Moutier (20th-century bookplate).

The barber-surgeons before Paré expected that any sort of surgical technique would require that the patient experience pain, sometimes pain so extreme that the subject would lose consciousness during the procedure. His realization that one might act gently in the capacity of a surgeon and that such gentleness actually might improve the lot of his patients was transformative. Pain relief was extremely limited in the 16th century — opium, henbane, mandrake, and strong spirits being the only offerings — and a quick, painful procedure often meant survival in a pre-antibiotic era. Tremendous pain was an accepted part of surgery. For Paré, the benefits of a gentle hand during surgery would soon become a clear means of reducing the suffering of his patients.

“Paré made his break from the traditional practices in 1537 when he ran out of the boiling oil solution conventionally used to ‘detoxify’ and cauterize wounds caused by gunpowder-driven projectiles. He replaced this harsh treatment with a soothing balm made from egg yolks, rose oil, and turpentine. The next morning, he was astonished to find the recipients of his new treatment were resting easily while those who suffered the cauterizing oil were ‘feverish’ and afflicted with ‘great pain and swelling about the edges of their wounds’.

“Seeing the dramatic difference between the ‘proper’ and improvised treatments, Paré resolved to only treat cases with procedures he had personally observed to be useful. This resulted in such innovations as the use of ligatures in amputations, treatments for sucking chest wounds, and a cure for chronic ulcers of the skin. Although this experimentally driven medicine did not come to define the physician’s practice until the rise of the Paris Clinic in the 19th century, these first writings established an important foundation of empiricism in European medicine” (Drucker).

“Control of hemorrhage by ligation of arteries had been frequently recommended but it was Paré who first practiced it systematically and brought it into general use. He invented many new surgical instruments, devised new methods in dentistry for extracting teeth, filling cavities, and making artificial dentures. He describes an artificial hand from iron, and also artificial noses and eyes of gold and silver” (Hagelin, pp. 34-35).

Janet Doe’s bibliography makes special note of the scarcity of the Cinq livres: “Malgaigne, who could locate no copy of this book, makes an erroneous guess in ascribing to it Pare's book on tumors. It is extraordinary that no copy has come to light in recent years [Doe's work was published in 1937] till Haberling's report of the Freiburg one in 1928. Haeser, in 1881, mentions its existence; but Le Paulmier in 1884, Paget in 1897, and Packard in 1921 all refer to it as probably lost. This present census reveals fourteen copies extant, all but three of which are in large libraries" (Doe, p. 70). Doe lists the following copies: 1. Boston Medical Library. 2. Bibliothèque Nationale. 3. Bibliothèque Publique, Besançon. 4. Dr. Logan Clendining, Kansas City. 5. Dr. Harvey Cushing. 6. Bibliothek der Deutschen Gessellshaft für Chirurgie, Berlin. 7. National-Bibliothek, Vienna. 8. Royal College of Surgeons, London. 9. S chsiche Landesbibliothek, Dresden. 10. Universitäts-Bibliothek, Freiburg. 11. Bibliothèque de l'Université, Louvain. 12. Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. 13. Dr. Erik Waller, Sweden. 14. Zentrabibliothek, Zürich.

“Paré’s account of plague, which was written at the request of the French queen-mother, Catherine de Medici, after a widespread outbreak of the disease in France in 1565, is one of the classic descriptions of the disease, and indicates how painful and fearsome it was. In Paré’s view, the ‘first original’ of plague was a corruption of the air, entering the body and reaching the heart, ‘the Mansion, or as it were the Fortress or Castle of Life’, where it acted like a poison, attacking the vital spirit. If the vital spirit is weak, it ‘flies back into the Fortress of the Heart, by the like contagion infecting the Heart, and so [it infects] the whole Body, being spread into it by the passages of the Arteries’. The pestiferous poison brought about a burning fever, whose effects drove sufferers to desperate measures. They had ulcerated jaws, unquenchable thirst, dryness and blackness of the tongue, ‘and it causeth such a Phrensy by inflaming the Brain, that the Patients running naked out of their beds, seek to throw themselves out of Windows into the Pits and Rivers that are at hand’ [quotation from the English translation, A Treatise of the Plague, London: Thomas Johnson, 1630]” (Cunningham & Grell, pp. 280-281).

Paré was born at Laval near Mayenne. His education was meagre and he never learned Latin or Greek. A rustic barber surgeon’s apprentice when he came up from the provinces to Paris and afterwards a dresser at the Hôtel Dieu, the public hospital in Paris, he in 1537 became an army surgeon. France was at this time engaged in many wars: against Italy, Germany and England, and eventually at home, in the civil war so disastrous to the Huguenots. Paré joined the Forces and for the next thirty years, with a foothold in Paris in the intervals of fighting, he engaged in any campaign where he soon made himself the greatest surgeon of his time by his courage, ability, and common sense. Like Vesalius and Paracelsus he did not hesitate to thrust aside ignorance or superstition if it stood in his way. Although snubbed by the physicians and the Medical Faculty at the University and ridiculed as an upstart because he wrote in his native tongue instead of in Latin, his reputation gradually grew and he became surgeon successively to Henry II, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry Ill. It is said that Charles IX protected Paré during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew by hiding him in his bedchamber” (Hagelin, pp. 34-5).

I. Cushing P64; En Francais dans le Texte 66; Tchemerzine (1977) V, 37 (“de la plus grande rarete”); Waller 7166. Not in Adams, Eimas, Durling, Norman or Wellcome. II. Durling 3526; Waller 7162. Not in Adams, BM STC, Osler, Honeyman or Norman. Cunningham & Grell, The four horsemen of the Apocalypse: religion, war, famine and death in reformation Europe, 2008; Doe, A bibliography of the works of Ambroise Paré, 14; Drucker, ‘Ambroise Paré and the Birth of the Gentle Art of Surgery,’ Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine 81 (2008), pp. 199–202; Hagelin, Rare and important medical books in the Karolinska Institute, 1989; Huet, The culture of disaster, 2012; Packard, The life and times of Ambroise Paré (1510-1590), 1926; Tchemerzine V, 36; Thornton, Medical books, libraries and collectors, 1949; Not in Norman.



Two works in one volume, 8vo (170 x 109 mm). I. Pp. [xxiv], 470, [2]. Title within woodcut allegorical border, woodcut portrait of Paré on verso, 41 woodcuts in text, most full-page, complete with colophon leaf with woodcut printer's device on verso. (Title with tiny marginal chip at foot, extremely minor marginal worming affecting gatherings n-q and v, occasional pale soiling or spotting.). II. Pp. [xvi], 235 (recte 275), [4] (last leaf blank). Title within woodcut allegorical border, complete with 'Au Lecteur' leaf with very large woodcut printer's device on verso. (Some dampstaining from gathering O to end, minor marginal worming affecting last 5 leaves and endpapers.) Contemporary vellum, yapp edges (some soiling, remains of ties).

Item #3697

Price: $185,000.00

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