Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1545-1599).
De Curtorum Chirurgia per insitionem. Venice: Gasparo Bindoni the younger, 1597.
Large-paper copy of the first edition, first issue, of the first book devoted exclusively to plastic surgery. It is one of only 5 known copies printed on large, thick paper for presentation, only two of which are in private hands. Whereas the Norman copy (sold Christie’s NY, 1998) was in a modern binding, the present copy is unsophisticated in its contemporary binding and with strong, fresh impressions of the woodcuts and type. Tagliacozzi treats of the theory and practice of plastic surgery, outlining ‘the structure, function, and physiology of the nose [and] the operative procedures for restoration of the nose, lip and ear’ (Heirs). He also discusses medical complications, skin grafts, gangrene and scarring, and illustrates surgical instruments and progressive steps of the various reconstructive operations through the post-operative stage. Plastic surgery met a real need, owing to mutilations caused by duelling and violence; Tycho Brahe lost his nose in a duel and wore a replacement, reputedly made of silver and gold. The first issue – without imprimatur on the title verso – was not limited to the large-paper copies; Mortimer noted ordinary copies also issued before its addition. Adams T-59; Garrison-Morton 5734; Gnudi-Webster pp. 183-216; Grolier Medicine 23; Heirs of Hippocrates 379; Mortimer, Harvard Italian 488; Norman 2048.

Folio (341 x 230mm). Large-paper issue. With blank H6, title printed in red and black, etched architectural frontispiece with the arms of the dedicatee, Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, printer's woodcut device on title, 2 woodcut illustrations on Ee5r, 22 full-page woodcuts showing surgical methods and instruments of plastic surgery (browning, some spotting, frontispiece partly detached with 2 small wormholes and very faint dampstain at lower corner). Contemporary Italian binding, pasteboard sides covered with vellum leaves from a Hebrew manuscript, backed in plain vellum, bottom edges lettered with author/title and dyed blue (manuscript leaves scrubbed in preparation for binding, a little worn, minor repairs, pastedowns renewed).
Jean Blondelet (d.2001; Sotheby’s Paris, 31 May 2016, lot 48).
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