London: T. Lewis, et al, 1801.
First edition, very rare, of the first work by the great English surgeon and father of modern plastic surgery. Its remarkable coloured anatomical illustrations are much reproduced even today. Carpue began his surgical studies at St. George's Hospital in London in 1796 after being educated in France and traveling widely in Europe, Scotland, and Wales. He was appointed to the surgical staff of the Duke of York's Hospital in Chelsea in 1799 and a year later began teaching anatomy. “He succeeded in a number of unrecognized tasks that are themselves landmarks not only in plastic surgical history, but surgical history: devising the first prospective observational study, using exclusion criteria, maintaining appropriate patient confidentiality, setting a standard for preoperative disclosure and ethical approval over a century before these measures were codified, having independent documentation of his preoperative and postoperative findings” (Freshwater). This work is not described in the standard medical bibliographies, and no copies appear in auction records since this copy last appeared at Sotheby’s in 1967 in the sale of the property of The Medico-Chirurgical Society of Aberdeen.Provenance: The Medico-Chirurgical Society of Aberdeen (its ownership markings appear in holograph on the title page and by ink stamp on the first and final text leaves).“Joseph Constantine Carpue was born in May 1764 in Brook Green, which still is an affluent neighborhood in London, England. His grandfather, Charles, had made the family fortune as a shoe manufacturer and his uncle, William Lewis, was a leading publisher in London. Carpue was “a late bloomer”; for more than a decade after leaving the Jesuit college of Douai he vacillated about his future. Perhaps this was a manifestation of his innate curiosity, for he explored a host of careers. As a Catholic, Carpue first thought of becoming a priest; next he toyed with the idea of joining his uncle's publishing business. The law appealed to him briefly, as the 1791 Roman Catholic Relief Act allowed Catholics to join the legal profession. He was next “smitten with admiration for Shakespeare” and considered a career on the stage. Finally, on August 5, 1796, Carpue registered at St. George's Hospital Medical School for a one-year term. Carpue was an unusual student for two reasons, first, he enrolled when he was 32 years old, and second, he was a college graduate, which was the exception to the rule for proto-surgeons of the 18th century. He studied under surgeon Everard Home, John Hunter's brother-in-law and successor at St. George's.“In the late 18th century, surgery was still rife with nepotism and, as such, Carpue’s professional prospects were limited. His abilities were known to Home, who offered him £500 a year to serve as his assistant. It is unknown if Carpue accepted Everard Home's offer, but in 1799, Carpue become a staff-surgeon at the Duke of York’s Hospital, a military hospital in Chelsea. He accomplished this through the influence of Thomas Keate, whom he had known as a surgeon at St. George’s, and who was surgeon general of the Army. No records remain describing the patients Carpue treated while at Chelsea before he resigned in 1807.“In 1800, Carpue tutored George Norman to prepare for the Royal College of Surgeons' examination. Norman had only his prior medical education of an apprenticeship with his father, a surgeon in Bath. Norman had approached Carpue and said, ‘I wish I knew anatomy as well as you, Carpue.’ After Norman passed his M.R.C.S. examination on June 4, 1801, he insisted that Carpue accept 20 guineas as payment. This spurred Carpue to present formal classes in anatomy and surgery. Later that year, Carpue confirmed his reputation as an anatomist and teacher by publishing “A Description of the Muscles of the Human Body as They Appear on Dissection” that was self-illustrated. Drawing was part of his unique teaching style; he was thought to have been the first anatomy instructor to draw diagrams while demonstrating anatomy, which resulted in his nickname ‘The chalk professor.’ Carpue’s classes proved to be popular not only with students preparing for their fellowship examination, but also with aristocrats, members of parliament, barristers, and law students” (Freshwater).“Carpue was introduced to and much appreciated by George IV, both before and after his accession to the throne. He was consulting surgeon to the St. Pancras Infirmary, but never received any recognition from the College of Surgeons, either by election to the council or to an examinership. He was a fellow of the Royal Society. He died on 30 Jan 1846, in his eighty-second year, having been much shaken in an accident on the South-Western Railway soon after its opening” (DNB).Freshwater, ‘Joseph Constantine Carpue and the Bicentennial of the Birth of Modern Plastic Surgery,’ Aesthetic Surgery Journal 35 (2015), pp. 748-58. Not in Norman.
4to (280 x 215 mm), pp. xii, 55, [1, blank], , with seven engraved plates, four with hand-colouring. Original boards (rebacked), untrimmed. Light toning througout. Boards with some wear.