Acta Medica & Philosophica Hafniensia.

Copenhagen: Peter Haubold, 1673-1680.

First edition, a rare complete run, of one of the first medical journals. While Garrison (p. 301) lists three previous journals, two of these were published for just one issue; only the Giornale dei letterati (Parma, 1668-88) predates this. Among the many significant contributions in these volumes, including more than 100 by Bartholin himself, are the last published scientific works of Niels Stensen. Stensen returned from Italy to Denmark in 1672 to accept an appointment at the University of Copenhagen under Bartholin. During his stay he carried out a number of experiments, two of which are published in vol. I: ‘Embryo monstro as finis Parisiis dissectus’ (pp. 200-203) and ‘Uterus Leporis Proprius, foetum resolventis’ (pp. 203-207). During his stay in Italy, however, Stensen converted to Catholicism and found himself the target of attack from orthodox Protestants. He became more interested in theological debates that scientific research and in 1674 he returned to Florence and in 1685 took Holy Orders. “The Copenhagen biologists, under the quickening influence of Thomas Bartholin, produced five volumes of transactions known as the Acta Medica et Philosophica Hafniensia, which is now very rare and almost entirely forgotten” (Cole). The leading authors besides Thomas Bartholin and Niels Steensen (Steno) were Holger Jacobsen (Jacabaeus), Caspar Bartholin, Ole Borch (Borrichius), Ole Worm, Simon Paulli, Johan Rodhe, Caspar Kolichen and several others. “In the case of many of their observations the interest is rather in the odd and curious, the astounding and marvelous, the unnatural and the abnormal Monsters and freaks of nature receive perhaps the most attention” (Thorndike). The collation of this copy agrees with that digitized on BSB (including the absence of the separate title page to Vol. IV).

“Steno, stimulated by his important researches on the female genital ducts and ova of the terrestrial vivipara, turned his attention to fishes. He gives an account in shark Mustelus of a functional placenta. He gives also, in Mustelus and Acanthias, one of the earliest descriptions and figures of the elasmobranch spiral intestine, which he names ‘intestinum cochleatum’. In Torpedo he describes the electric organ, its characteristic vertical prismatic columns, and the nerve supply. Steno's dissections of the muscles of the eagle, Aquila (1673) is one of the most remarkable essays in zootomy published up to his time, and it is perhaps more detailed and reliable than almost any other. Steno also published a series of nine drawings of the thoracic duct and associated lymphatics of the dog” (Cole).

Thomas Bartholin describes the male mandrill illustrated by three anatomical plates (Male genitalia) and a figure of the entire animal, which had died of disease in the Royal Menagerie. Holger Jacobsen describes the scorpion, the salamander, snakes, several birds, the heron and the parrot (based on dissections and figures by Steno). He also investigated the fascinating and unique anatomical puzzle of the tongue of the black woodpecker (with plate). He gives an exceptionally interesting account of the mole cricket, Gryllotalpa, which is important as being one of the first in which the elongated segmental heart of insects is described and figured. This memoir is a commendable piece of zootomical research, and it all the more outstanding because the subject of it was an invertebrate” (Cole).

Garrison, ‘Medical and scientific periodicals of the 17th and 18th centuries,’ Bulletin of the Institute of the History of Medicine 2 (1934), pp. 285-343.



Five vols. bound in four, 4to. Vol. I: pp. [xvi], 1-23, 34-148, 159-316, with 16 plates (numerous mispaginations); vol. II: pp. [xx], 376, with 24 plates; Vols. III/IV: pp. [xvi], 1-99, 98-174; 1-216 with 15 plates [no title page for vol. IV was issued]; Vol. V: pp. [viii], 342 with 8 plates (some gatherings with moderate browning). These five volumes contain together 63 engraved plates (two folding) and numerous woodcuts in the text. Uniformly bound in contemporary half-calf (hinges and boards with some wear, some superficial leather restoration to surface, not re-backed or with other major repairs).

Item #4134

Price: $12,500.00