This item has sold. We are always interested in acquiring another copy or any item of comparable quality.


Avicenna on vocal cord paralysis

[Mediaeval medicine]. "Alberti Magni Liber Medicinalis" (17th century spine title) and other writings.

Augsburg, 1452-1453.

Large 8vo (150 x 217 mm). Latin (and German) manuscript. Ink on paper by several hands, 286 ff., with 14 blank leaves at the end. Three parts in one volume, first hundred leaves of second part foliated: (104) ff.; 100, (101-169) ff.; (7) ff.; 1 blank, (5) ff. 23-27 lines, written space 8 x 15 to 10 x 15 cm. Rubricated, chapter headings in red ink, numerous unsophisticated red Lombardic initials. Contemporary brown calf over wooden boards with rounded edges, covers ruled with borders and crosswise, lacking clasps and bosses. Manuscript vellum label to upper cover; spine papered in 18th century with printed label. Pastedowns covered with early 15th century vellum manuscript.

Fine three-part medical manual written at a time considered the pivot between Middle Ages and Renaissance. The first part of the volume consists of the famous (and notorious) gynaecological treatise "De secretis mulierum", ascribed to Albertus Magnus and popular throughout the late Middle Ages and well into modern times. Although this part is written by at least two clearly discernible hands, only one scribe provides his name at the end, stating that one Conrad Kastner of Augsburg completed the task on Friday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (17 September) 1452. Below this, yet another scribe continues the manual on the same page with a medical treatise including several recipes (hiera pigra of Galen, "benedicta", "ad clarificandum visum" etc.), then digressing into a treatment of epilepsy still founded in the power of magical spells and the Christian occult: "Et sciendum qui dum epilenticus cadit, si aliquis ponat os suum supra aurem pacientis et dicat sibi istos versus procul statim surgit: Caspar fert myrrham, thus Melchior, Balthasar aurum / Hec qui secum portaverit nomina regum, solvitur a morbo Domini mediante, caduco" (f. 4v; a recommendation taken from Bernard de Gordon and later to be repeated by Paracelsus). A similar spirit informs the discussion of apoplexy and melancholy. Among the authorities cited are the great ancients - Hippocrates and Galenus, but there are also repeated references to the great Arab physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna), with his remarks on vocal cord paralysis: "De paralisi ligwe Avicennas dicit qui solus gargarissmus ex melle squillitico curat paralisim ligwe" (f. 22v-23r); on diarrhea (f. 32v); on indigestion (f. 62), etc. Remarkably, this part - the most substantial of the three - even includes a section on hippiatry in German ("Wann dem roß das ayter aus dem fuß ausprist so sol man es auschern sam der fuß gespalten sey und schol man darauf pintn warm hundsmist", f. 80r). Foliated up to f. 100 and then apparently continued by a different scribe, this section is dated "1453" twice (at the end and on the reverse of f. 28). The final part is a medical treatise mainly on the blood system and on phlebotomy which appears to have been abandoned without a clear conclusion. An index is appended.

Binding rubbed; papered spine chipped in places. Interior shows occasional browning and fingerstaining. First leaf trimmed at upper edge, as is a corner in the second part; lower edge of f. 36 torn off irregularly (slight loss to final line of both sides). First part: incipit "Dilecto sibi in Christo socio et amico carissimo Nicolao clerico Erfordie de tali loco" etc., explicit "Expliciunt secreta mulierum per me Chonradum Chastner de Augusta feria sexta post exaltationis sanctae crucis 1452". Second part: incipit "Yerapigra Galieni", new chapter beginning on p. 64, explicit "Explicit iste liber 145iii" (with additional date "ich habs im wiln 1453" on f. 28v). Third part: incipit "Nota usu de ordine intestinorum", followed by a blank leaf and 5 leaves of index. A remarkable, well-preserved south German medical compendium completed in the year of the Fall of Constantinople.