"UNRIVALED FOR… ELEGANCE OF STYLE AND ACCURACY OF DESCRIPTION": VERY RARE FIRST EDITIONS OF BELL'S ANATOMY OF THE BRAIN, 1802, AND SERIES OF ENGRAVINGS ON THE NERVES, 1803, IN ONE FOLIO VOLUME, WITH 21 ENGRAVED PLATES (MOST HAND-COLORED, THREE FOLDING)
BELL, Charles. The Anatomy of the Brain, Explained in a Series of Engravings. BOUND WITH: A Series of Engravings, Explaining the Course of the Nerves. London: Printed by C. Whittingham… for T.N. Longman et. al., 1802, 1803. Tall quarto (9-1/2 by 11-1/2 inches), contemporary three-quarter brown calf rebacked with original elaborately gilt-decorated spine and red and black morocco spine labels laid down, marbled boards, endpapers and edges; [i-v] vi-vii, [1-3] 4-87 ;  [1-3] 4-49 . $17,500.
First editions of two seminal early works by Scottish surgeon Bell—Anatomy of the Brain (1802) and Series of Engravings (1803), with Anatomy wonderfully illustrated with 12 stipple-engraved anatomical plates (11 hand-colored)—-"engraved by Thomas Medland after Bell's own drawings… probably Bell's most beautiful work on neuroanatomy and one of the most beautifully illustrated in the entire literature"—and nine copper-engraved plates (three folding) in Series of Engravings, all after richly detailed and expressive original drawings by Bell, a splendid volume in contemporary calf and marbled boards.
This volume brings together two exceptional early works by Scottish-born surgeon Sir Charles Bell—Anatomy of the Brain (1802) and Series of Engravings (1803). "Trained in art as well as medicine," Bell crafted beautiful anatomical drawings in connection with lectures by his brother John Bell (Norman 168). Moving to London in 1804, Bell "developed his experimental techniques involving the peripheral nerves in order to discover how the brain functions… Bell introduced new methods of determining the functional anatomy of the nervous system… His techniques and observations led to Johannes Müller's generalizations on the sensory functions of the nervous system" (DSB). In Anatomy of the Brain, Bell "displays both his descriptive and artistic capabilities. The 12 aquatint plates (eleven of them hand-colored) were engraved by Thomas Medland after Bell's own drawings and constitute what is probably Bell's most beautiful work on neuroanatomy and one of the most beautifully illustrated in the entire literature" (Heirs of Hippocrates 1297). Plate I in Anatomy is especially "important for its accurate portrayal of the cerebral gyri," and the nine plates in Series of Engravings are exquisite renderings of the body's nerves, muscles, arteries and veins (Norman 168).
"Bell’s great discovery was that there are two kinds of nerves, sensory and motor," and his "systems of anatomy, dissections and surgery still stand unrivaled for facility of expression, elegance of style and accuracy of description" (DNB; Chouland, 343). In Anatomy, "Plates I-X were engraved in colors as well as colored by hand" (Norman 168). Series of Engravings with nine copper-engraved plates, including three large folding plates, that reveal the body's nerves, muscles, arteries and veins. All plates after original drawings by Bell. Series bound without rear leaf of ads. Norman 168, 169. Bookplate of American naval physician Dr. I.H. Hazelton, who served in the Civil War aboard the U.S.S. Vermont.
Text and plates fresh with light scattered foxing; mild rubbing, edge-wear to boards, expert restoration to contemporary calf corners.