8vo [16.5 x 9.5 cm], 112 pp., (1) f., with (1) folding woodcut, woodcut headpieces. Bound in contemporary marble-painted calf, spine with title label and gold tooled in six compartments, triple-ruled gold borders on covers, marbled endpapers, marbled edges. Upper cover tender, headband loosening, minor edge wear. Free flyleaves browned, occasional minor spotting, otherwise internally excellent.
[bound with:] SAILLANT, Charles-Jacques. Mémoire historique sur la maladie singulière de la veuve Mélin, dit la femme aux ongles. Paris, chez Méquignon l’aîne, 1776. 8vo, (2) ff., 45 pp., (1) p. blank verso [bound with:] DESMARS, J.-T. Lettre à M*** sur la mortalité des chiens, dans l’anné 1763. Amsterdam and Paris, chez la Veuve de D. Ant. Pierres, 1764. 8vo, 40 pp.
Sammelband of three rare first editions concerning unusual cases of human and animal disease in 18th-century France. In the first work, the celebrated surgeon J.-F.-C. Morand (1726-84) provides the case history of Anne-Élisabeth Supiot’s debilitating bone disease from the onset of her symptoms in 1747 to her death in 1751. The tract includes Morand’s post mortem autopsy and a folding woodcut illustrating Supiot’s (horrifically contorted) body. The second title treats the case of the widow Mélin – the so-called ‘Woman with Claws’ – who suffered from an acute skin condition. The cleric and physician C.-J. Saillant (1747-1804) describes in detail the woman’s various deformities and notes that when she died at age 47 (after having not slept for 3 years), her corpse was dissected and the skeleton along with a preserved arm were given to the Physician’s College in Paris. The third tract included here treats not human disease, but the notorious 1763 pandemic of canine distemper, which affected dogs and other species across Europe. These three serious (if somewhat sensational) scientific works, here collected together in a handsome contemporary binding, make for an odd juxtaposition and highlight how fluid the boundaries of medical practice and inquiry remained in the eighteenth-century.
OCLC locates copies of these tracts at the following U.S. institutions:
Morand: Columbia, Stanford, Yale, Chicago, Harvard, National Library of Medicine, Minnesota, Duke, Rochester Medical.
Saillant: No U.S. copy
Desmars: No U.S. copy
* Waller 6658; Blake 311; Wellcome IV, 169; Conlon 52, 898; Barbier, Ouvrages anonymes, vol. 3, col. 137; The Critical Review, vol. 52 (1781), pp. 63-4