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Complete book III of 1498 edition of Ibn Sina’s great masterpiece, in contemporary Renaissance bindings

Canon medicinae [= al-Qanun].
Lyon, Jean Trechsel & Johann Klein, 24 December 1498. 2 volumes. Folio (ca. 31 × 42 cm). With a diagrammatic woodcut.Contemporary blind- and gold-tooled calf over wooden boards, sewn on 4 double supports, one volume with 2 brass clasps (and traces on the other volume). 379; 357 ll.
€ 125,000
Important 1498 edition of the complete volumes 2 and 3 (of 4), comprising the complete book III, of the greatest monument of Islamic medicine, al-Qanun written in Arabic by Ibn Sina (ca. 980-1037), known in the West as Avicenna, and translated into Latin by Gherardo da Cremona (ca. 1114-1187) as Canon medicinae. This is the first edition edited by Jacques Ponceau, physician to King Charles VIII of France, and the second published outside Italy. It is here preserved in contemporary Renaissance blind- and gold-tooled calf and nearly untrimmed. The complete five books were first printed ca. 1473 and Cremonas translation remained the standard into the 17th century. About ten editions appeared before the present of 1498, but only Adolph Rusch in Strasbourg had published an edition outside Italy, in or soon after 1473. For the present Trechsel edition, Ponceau for the first time added the unpublished commentaries of Jacques Desparts (ca. 1380-1458), physician to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and new commentaries by the leading scholar Johannes Lascaris (1445-1534), a Greek living in Italy. Trechsel and Ponceau clearly went to great lengths to surpass all earlier editions in scholarship, and the king of France (Charles VIII, just before his death?) granted their edition a five-year privilege (Armstrong, Before copyright, p. 7, notes it as one of the earliest book privileges), but Trechsel died leaving the work unfinished. While Johann Klein completed some parts that Trechsel had already begun, he published only 4 volumes: the complete book I (vol. 1), the present complete book III (vols. 2-3) and the first fen of book IV (vol. 4). So this edition never included books II, V and the rest of book IV. Fortunately book III (well over half of the present edition) can stand independently, covering the pathology of and therapy for all parts of the body systematically "a capite ad calces" (from head to toe), including ailments of the ear, nose and throat, as well as obstetrics. This is the longest and in many respects, the most important book of the al-Qanun.
Ibn Sinas encyclopaedic al-Qanun is the most authoritative medical text from the Islamic world and Cremonas Latin translation formed the basis of medical training in the Western world from ca. 1200 to ca. 1650, exerting "perhaps a wider influence in the eastern and western hemispheres than any other Islamic thinker" (Printing and the mind of man). "The Qanun ... contains some of the most illuminating thoughts pertaining to distinction of mediastinitis from pleurisy; contagious nature of phthisis; distribution of diseases by water and soil; careful description of skin troubles; of sexual diseases and perversions; of nervous ailments" (Sarton, Introduction to the history of science). "One of the most famous medical texts ever written, a complete exposition of Galenism. Neuburger says: It stands for the epitome of all precedent development, the final codification of all Graeco-Arabic medicine. It dominated the medical schools of Europe and Asia for five centuries" (Garrison & Morton 43).
With a few contemporary manuscript annotations, and traces of bookplates removed from the paste-downs. A pencil note on the front paste-down of vol. 2 notes that the set came from the Fritzlar Cathedral Library, parts of which were dispersed in 1724 and in 1803. It was sold by Venator (Cologne), sale 23/24 (1962), lot 15 (illustration plate IV).
Volumes 2 (book III, fens 1-12) and 3 (book III, fens 13-22), without volumes 1 (book I: 452 ll.) and 4 (book IV, fen 1: 142 ll.).Both volumes lack the final blank leaf, but are otherwise complete and nearly untrimmed, giving ample margins and preserving an occasional deckle. Some light browning and marginal water stains (mainly towards end of vol. 2), some mostly marginal worming, but still in good condition. An important edition of one of the greatest work of Islamic medicine, nicely bound in contemporary blind- and gold-tooled calf over wooden boards. BMC VIII, p. 302; BSB-Ink A 964; Claudin IV, 88-93; Corr. Pell. 1668; Goff A1428; GW 3127; IGI 1125 u; ISTC ia01428000; Klebs 131.13; Proctor 8616; not in Oates; Osler; Wellcome.
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Early printing & manuscripts  >  15th Century | Medicine & Pharmacy
Medicine & pharmacy  >  Medicine & Pharmacy pre 1700
Middle east & islamic world  >  Medicine & Science