Surgical instruments illustrated

Razi, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al- (Rhazes) / Arcolano, Giovanni (ed.). Omnes, qui proximis seculis scripserunt, medicos longe excellentis opera [...]. In quibus sunt & commentarii in Razis Arabis nonum Lib. ad regem Almansorem [...].

Basel, Heinrich Petri, 1540.

Folio (225 x 331 mm). (12), 747, (1) pp. With 2 (repeated) woodcut printer's devices to title page and final page as well as a half-page woodcut of surgical instruments at the end of the preliminaries. Modern blindstamped brown calf on four raised double bands.


Rare edition of this commentary on the ninth book of the treatise dedicated by ar-Razi (also known as Rhazes; 850-923 or 932) to Almansor, the Prince of Chorosan (with the text). "The manual, known as 'Nonus Almansoris', was popular among mediaeval physicians" (cf. GAL S I, p. 419). The work discusses special pathology but excluding pyrology and was one of the most popular textbooks at medical schools and faculties well into the Middle Ages (cf. Hirsch/H. I, 171). Rhazes is considered the greatest mediaeval physician next to Avicenna; he also conducted alchemical experiments. According to his biographer al-Gildaki, he was blinded for refusing to share his secrets of chemistry.

A woodcut on the final page of the preliminaries depicts ten different surgical instruments, including a tongue depressor, a forceps, and various instruments for cauterization. Several minor waterstains throughout, but generally a fine copy. Provenance: Handwritten ownership of the Jesuit College of Louvain, dated 1637, on the title-page.

VD 16, A 3222. Durling 249. Cf. Garrison/M. 3666.84; Poletti, p. 11; Wellcome I, 383; M. H. Fikri, Treasures from The Arab Scientific Legacy in Europe (Qatar 2009) no. 46, with double-page spread illustration on p. 82f. (1542 Venice edition).