"A MAJOR INNOVATION… AN INSTITUTION IN ITS OWN RIGHT": SCARCE 1859 FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF GRAY'S ANATOMY, IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN BINDING, WITH CIVIL WAR MEDICAL PROVENANCE
GRAY, Henry. Anatomy Descriptive and Surgical. Philadelphia: Blanchard and Lea, 1859. Tall thick octavo, contemporary full sheep rebacked with original spine and black morocco spine label neatly laid down. $12,500.
First American edition of this classic anatomical textbook by Henry Gray, richly illustrated with 363 wood-engravings after drawings by Henry Vandyke Carter, published on the eve of the American Civil War, which resulted in 620,000 killed in combat or by disease, with untold thousands grievously wounded—this edition of Gray's Anatomy would have been an indispensable tool for American doctors, surgeons, and medical students at this crucial period in our history, on and off the battlefield. "Remains today a standard work on the subject" (Garrison & Morton). A desirable copy in a contemporary American binding, with a Civil War-era medical provenance.
Gray was only 33 when he published this pivotal work that established a breakthrough in the art of teaching medical students, thereby producing "a major innovation" in the field. "No medical text has ever been so widely used by successive generations of medical students and doctors… It is a measure of Gray's single-minded devotion to anatomy and authorship that 'Gray's Anatomy' remains even today, not only an important book of reference but as virtually a household phrase" (DNB). "The first edition of 1858 was found to have a good many errors, most of which were corrected in the 1859 edition" (Heirs of Hippocrates 1915).
According to a contemporary report of the Surgeon-General, the number of wounded treated in hospitals in the Civil War was 246,712. However, this figure included only records of engagements for which statistics were known; the figure also excluded the number of wounded soldiers who were not treated in hospitals. (See William Fox, Regimental Losses in the American Civil War 1861-65, Albany, 1889.). Bound without half title. Garrison & Morton 418. Lilly, 211. Norman 939. Owner ink signature, dated Cincinnati, Dec. 1860, and penciled annotations of Dr. Winslow Brown, who notes his use of this book during the Civil War (April 1-November 1, 1862) at Camp Dennison Hospital, established just after the Battle of Shiloh, which at its height tended to 2300 sick or injured soldiers. Dr. Brown's penciled notes of brain size in relation to intelligence are on the rear blank. Dr. Brown's death in San Francisco on November 2, 1868, was attributed to poison.
Title page and one leaf of contents (pp. 15-16) with light edge-wear; scattered foxing to text. A nicely refurbished copy, most desirable with Civil War medical provenance.