Paris: André Wechel, 1572; 1568.
Very rare first editions of two of Paré’s most important works. The Cinq livres de chirurgie is exceedingly scarce in first edition, and perhaps the most important work by Pare. Since 1916 ABPC has recorded the sale of only 2 copies: one in 1963 in New York, and another (incomplete, bound with Paré’s Dix livres de chirurgie, also incomplete) in 1981 in London. Paré is considered one of the fathers of surgery and modern forensic pathology and a pioneer in surgical techniques and battlefield medicine, especially in the treatment of wounds. He was also an anatomist and invented several surgical instruments.
The first work (Cinq livres de chirurgie) is illustrated with a woodcut portrait of Paré and 41 woodcuts depicting surgical operations and instruments. “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 second work (Traicté de la peste, de la petite Verolle & Rougeolle: avec une brefue description de la Lepre) 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). Durling 3526.
“Pare 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 Hotel 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. Pare 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 Pare during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew by hiding him in his bedchamber.
“Pare is responsible for the abolition of the method of applying hot iron or boiling oil in the treatment of gunshot wounds, the new feature of Renaissance surgery. During a battle in which the supply of oil gave out, Pare was forced to treat many with a mixture of egg-yolk, oil of roses, and turpentine. He was surprised to find the next morning that those treated with his mixture was in much better condition than the others, and he at once championed the new method. Control of hemorrhage by ligation of arteries had been frequently recommended but it was Pare 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… Pare’s original books, all very rare today, were handly volumes, small enough for the field surgeoon’s knapsack.” (Hagelin, Rare and Important Medical Books, pp 34-35).
2 works in one volume, 8vo (170 x 109 mm). Contemporary vellum, yapp edges (some soiling, remains of ties).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.); 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). Provenance: 'C.P.L.C... du bon desser' (contemporary ink inscription in lower margin of a2 recto) -- François Moutier (20th-century bookplate).