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Pioneering Hydrotherapy

BRANCALEONI, Giovanni Francesco. Quam salubria balnea sint: cum ad sanitatem tuendam, tum ad morbos curandos, dialogus adversus neotericos medicos. Rome, A. Bladus de Asula, 1535.

4to. [20 x 14.4 cm], (30) ff. Woodcut printer?s device on title, two woodcut initials. Bound in old stiff vellum stained green (rather spotted and abraded). Contemporary marginal annotations throughout, some possibly by Ottaviano Caligari (?). Scattered leaves lightly soiled, paper flaws in blank margins of ff. D, G, but generally very good.


Rare first edition of this influential balneological treatise by one of the founding fathers of hydrotherapy. A modern interpretation of Galen, Avicenna and Hippocrates, Brancaleoni's work promoted the healthful and hygienic effects of bathing a generation earlier than Falloppio, and well in advance of the 19th-century pan-European trend for spa cures associated with Vincenz Priessnitz (1799-1851) and Father Sebastian Kneipp.

While the identity of the early annotator of this copy has not been confirmed, the primary hand appears identical to the notes appearing in another medical text handled by our firm: Ferdinando Balami's translation of Galen's De ossibus, also published in Rome by Blado in 1535, and bound in an analogous green vellum binding, which bears the ownership inscription of the physician Ottaviano Caligari.

OCLC lists two copies of the 1535 edition: Harvard and the Wellcome (this edition not in the NUC).

* Wellcome 1037; Durling 669, 670 (1536 eds.); BMC (1536 ed.); Bibliotheca Palatina F2421; not in Osler, Duveen, Waller. On De Balneis omnia see Durling 1101; Garrison & Morton 1986.

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