Auctions | February 28, 2018

Medical Texts Highlight February 22 Auction at PBA Galleries

carpue.jpgPBA Galleries realized strong sales in their February 22nd Fine Books sale. Leading the way was the collection of early plastic surgery medical texts included in the nearly 500 lots of rare, interesting, unusual, and captivating material, from charming illustrated children’s books to art, science, fine printing, occult, finely bound books, early religious tracts, medicine, astronomy, natural philosophy, history, and much more, including classic rock & roll posters from San Francisco in the 1960’s.

Particularly strong sales were seen among the early rhinoplasty texts. A 1587 edition of Giralomo Mercuriale’s De decoratione liber... additi nunc primum duo tractatus; alter De varicibus alter, De reficiendo naso: nunquam antea editi sold for $5,400. Although a second edition of the work, it is the first to include Gaspare Tagliacozzi's important letter to Mercuriale, which marks the first published description of his achievements in rhinoplasty. He describes several successful cases and announces the imminent publication of a complete treatise on the subject.

Tagliacozzi’s Cheirurgia nova... de narium, aurium, labiorum'que defectu, per insitionem cutis ex humero, arte, hactenus omnibus ignota, serviendo... was eventually published eleven years later in 1598 and the third edition, with 23 woodcut illustrations sold in the sale for $5,100. Two folio editions had been published in Venice prior to this first octavo edition from Frankfurt. Heirs of Hippocrates provides: "This work, is a classic in the history of plastic surgery and is especially noteworthy for its description of rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty had been practiced in ancient India and, in the thirteenth century, by a family of itinerant Sicilian surgeons who kept the operation a family secret. The volume is divided into two parts: the first, ‘Theory of the art of plastic surgery,’ is about the structure, function, and physiology of the nose; and the second part, ‘Practice of the art,’ describes and illustrates the instruments and operative procedures for restoration of the nose, lip, and ear. Tagliacozzi also fully discussed the complications, that often occurred during these operations."

A rare 1833 work in English by the rhinoplasty pioneer, Johann Friedrich Dieffenbach, produced spirited bidding and sold for $10,200. Surgical Observations on the Restoration of the Nose; And on the Removal of Polypi and Other Tumours from the Nostrils;... With the History and Physiology of Rhinoplastic Operations, Notes and Additional Cases was translated by John Stevenson Bushnan while he was a student in Heidelberg and this volume is the rarest of work in English on the subject.

The rare first work by the English surgeon, Joseph Constantine Carpue, A Description of the Muscles of the Human Body, as they appear on Dissection; with the Synonyma of Cowper, Winslow, Douglas, Albinus, and Innes, and the Nomenclature of Dumas... With prints and maps, showing the insertion of muscles, was apparently prepared for use by his pupils, with the introduction headed "To Students of Anatomy." Selling for $7,800, this 1801 first edition contains seven engraved plates, four with hand covering and was owned by the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Aberdeen as the society's ownership markings appear in holograph on the title page and by ink stamp on the first and final text leaves.

Other highlights from the sale are: 23 volumes from the Nonesuch Dickens which included a printing plate for an illustration by Phiz (Hablot K. Browne) selling for $3,300; the 1712 first edition in English of The Theory and Practice of Gardening which was the first important book on garden design of the 18thc. to appear in England which realized $2,280; the Arion Press limited edition, Poems of W. B. Yeats, illustrated with six etchings by Richard Diebenkorn sold for $2,160; and selling for $1,920, a first printing in the original dust jacket of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! inscribed and signed by the author.

PBA Galleries holds sales of fine, rare and collectible books every two weeks and invites consignments for all upcoming sales. For more information regarding upcoming sales, consignments, or auction results, please contact PBA Galleries at (415) 989-2665 or