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Scurvy And Public Health

ALBERTI, Salomon. Schorbuti Historia cui inobservatum vel saltem indictum hactenus symptoma accesit. Wittenberg, Georg Muller, 1594.

8vo, (98) ff. [INCLUDING: De Schorbuto praeside Salomone Alberti... Respondebit M. Ernestus Hettenbach Mergethumensis Fr... Die Martii xxvi. mane hora 7. in Collegio Maiori. Wittenberg, n.p. [but most likely Georg Muller], 1591. (20) ff. Bound in modern wrappers. One marginal annotation and some neat underlining. Evenly toned throughout, and some minor soiling in margins of final leaves, which are also a bit dog-eared. Notwithstanding, very good.


Rare first edition of one of the earliest works on the subject of scurvy by the well-known anatomist, undertaken to survey the incidence of the disease in the ducal territories around Wittenberg, and consequently qualifying as an example of public health medicine. According to O'Malley, Alberti was able to positively demonstrate the disease's prevalence in the territory surveyed, and astutely recommend citrus fruit as part of a preventative diet, a benevolent property later recognized by James Lind in his Treatise on the Scurvy (Edinburg, 1753). "The book was known by James Lind and referred to by him in his celebrated treatise" (O'Malley, p. 98).

Salomon Alberti (1540-1600) is best known for producing the first illustrations of the venous valves and for producing the first extensive printed account devoted solely to their function in his Tres Orationes (Nuremberg, 1585). The correct understanding of the venous valves was essential to Harvey's concept of a systemic circulation of the blood.

The work went through at least two 17th-century editions (1624; 1674), though the editio princeps appears to be the only one containing Alberti's public disputation of 1591 with Ernestus Hettenbach, which constitutes the first public announcement of his results.

NUC lists NLM; OCLC adds UCLA Medical and Oxford for this edition.

* Durling 81 (giving incorrect no. of pages, but correct signature run A-Q8, R4); not in Adams or Waller, and first edition not at Wellcome; C. D. O?Malley in DSB I.98; Thorndike VI.229-30.

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