Thursday, December 04, 2014

Theodor Kerckring's Spicilegium anatomicum, 1670

Last month we were lucky to be able to acquire a copy of Theodor Kerckring's Spicilegium anatomicum, published in Amsterdam in 1670. Kerckring (1640-1693) was a Dutch physician, and this book contains many of his important anatomical observations. It is best-known, however, for its many wonderful illustrations.

The title page and the frontispiece have engravings of allegorical figures, which look very heroic and muscular, in true Baroque style.

The book contains detailed observations on the development of the fetal skeleton. These are supported by several striking foldout plates, which some of us here in HC&A consider cute, though others find them creepy!

The unfortunate story of the polydactylous skeleton below is partially translated in this interesting 1940 article by Albert G. Nicholls, "Theodor Kerckring and his 'Spicilegium anatomicum'."  (free from PubMed)

The book is bound with another book by Kerckring, Anthropogeniae ichnographia - meaning we have two books in one volume. The volume once belonged to Dr. Francois Moutier, whose charming bookplate is below:

The volume will be cataloged for our History of Medicine Collection, and available for research in HC&A.