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The First Book On Exercise And Health

MERCURIALE, Girolamo. Artis Gymnasticae apud Antiquos Celeberrimae nostris Temporibus Ignoratae Libri Sex. Venice, Giunti, 1569.

4to., (20) ff., the last blank & integral, 120 ff., 1 folding engraved plate. Bound in vellum, with author's name stenciled in lower fore-edge. Upper quarter of title and scattered leaves lightly waterstained, with some minor fingersoiling to a handful of others; gutter margin of plate cropped close to plate-mark; otherwise very good.


Scarce first edition of "the first book on exercise and health, and an important source for the study of gymnastics among the ancients". Mercuriali "was particularly interested in how specific exercises affected specific diseases. He was one of the first therapists to suggest that exercise can be helpful or harmful depending on its use, duration and intensity. On the basis of research, he recommends or prohibits physical activities, describes them in detail, suggests proper equipment, and outlines training schedules and techniques." - Norman 1495 (citing Renaissance books of science from the collection of Albert E. Lownes, 24)

A more generously illustrated edition appeared in 1573 and numerous times thereafter, but the present edition remains important as a first and in recent years has become scarce.

* Wellcome 4223; Durling 3087; not in Adams M; Garrison-Morton I.4478.100; Hagelin, Kinetic Jottings, pp. 24-27; (1577); Mortimer 302 (1573).

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