Special funds available at the end of the fiscal year made possible two major acquisitions: the first and second editions of De humani corporis fabrica by Andreas Vesalius, published 1543 and 1555 respectively. This towering monument in the history of science has long been lacking in the Library’s collections. If Princeton had a medical school, there might have been an early organizational imperative to obtain this work marking the beginning of modern anatomical studies, but the University has no medical school. Growing campus interest in the history of science during the past several decades has involved classroom presentations of original editions of important landmarks of science already held by the Library, such as the De revolutionibus of Copernicus (1543). Those presentations well demonstrated our wealth of such key books in the mathematical and physical sciences, but they also showed up that we lacked the some equally revolutionary work in medicine. These two new acquisitions unquestionably strengthen our ability to bring into the classroom virtually all the monumental works marking the beginning of the modern science during the Renaissance.
Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica(Basle, 1543) [Call number: (Ex) QM21 .V418 1543f]. Some notable aspects of this copy: 1) Leaf M3 (“Venarum, arteriarum, nervorumque omnium integra delineatio”) has eight contemporarily-colored figures of organs mounted on recto and verso, providing a three-dimensional perspective of the human anatomical figure. And, 2) bound in contemporary German calf over wooden boards; spine in six compartments; covers show seven vertical rows with alternating motifs of married couple and of lamp flanked by chalices; outer border shows rosettes and floral motifs; vestiges of catches and clasps at fore-edge.
Andreas Vesalius, De humani corporis fabrica(Basle, 1555) [Call number: (Ex) QM21 .V418 1555f]. Bound in 17th century Dutch paneled vellum. Armorial bookplate of Sir William Sterling-Maxwell (1818-1878) on front pastedown; his “Arts of Design” bookplate on back pastedown.