Patrick's Rare Books

Browne, Compleat Treatise of the Muscles, first ed. 1681

Browne, Compleat Treatise of the Muscles, first ed. 1681

A Compleat Treatise of the Muscles, As they appear In Humane Body, And arise in Dissection; With diverse Anatomical Observations Not yet Discover’d. Illustrated by near Fourty Copper Plates, Accurately Dlineated and Engraven. By John Browne, Sworn Chirurgeon in Ordinary to His Majesty. Non Nobis Nati. In the Savoy. Printed by Tho. Newcombe for the Author. 1681.


Folio volume in contemporary (likely original) full brown speckled calf, rebacked (in period style by Vernon Wiering), with preservation and repair of original red title plate. A few minor scuffs and bumps affecting leather of original boards. Page edges sparsely speckled in red. Rather elaborate 18th century owner’s signature on ffep. Some faint unobtrusive ink smudges on title page. Some faint marginal damp stain to upper outer corner and fore-edge on first few leaves, as well as lower outer corner and bottom edge of Tab IV. With the exception of Tab IV (along with the preceding and the following text leaves), the damp stain encroaches upon but does not affect the text or images. A few other scattered small smudges and stains here and there, as well as a few minute tears at edges of some leaves. Text block otherwise clean and bright though with margins well retained. 


Attractively set in Roman font. Copper plates demonstrate regional anatomy of the muscles. Dissections presented on artistic backgrounds and simulated, shall we say, vivacious bodily poses. Lovely 17th century paper manufacturer’s watermarks, visible through pages 17/18 and 29/30, for example.


Pagination and typographic errors identified:

No 61, 62, or 81 but seems these were never present as content flows smoothly. Duplicate numbering (but not content) 66, 70, 76, 80, 86, 90, 96, 98, 102, 108, 114, and 204. Page 193 numbered 163. Qnad instead of Quad at bottom corner of 165.


The final statement at the end of the book is an apology for any errors, (with an excuse from the author that he hadn’t sufficient time to review it).


Blank, title, 2 pg royal command, 11 pgs prelims, 3 pgs subscribers, 3 pgs muscle names, 1 pg references to prior authors, 37 plates and text (A – Fff), 4 pg table, 4 pg table (end Hhh), blank. 


Measures: 12 3/8 x 8 x 1 ¼ inches.


Fol XXVI, Tab VI, fig III (follows pg 26) is the famous illustration of the face with calvaria and cerebrum removed, and left eye drooping after orbital dissection. Fol XLII Tab VII (preceding pg 43) shows excellently rendered lateral views of the head and neck with exposed muscles and neurovasculature. Of interest, the bottom right figure (3) of the tenth table is reminiscent of a similar illustration on page 139 in Meek’ren’s Observationes Medico-Chirurgicae (also published in 1681). As was standard in anatomy books of the time (with the minor exception of Bidloo in 1685) the illustrations show the bodies in animate poses as though they were alive yet dissected.


The list of subscribers includes William Briggs, Robert Boyle, Thomas Browne, Simon Patrick D.D., among many other medical men and divines.


This is the first edition of this work (which was later substantially revised under the new title Myographia Nova in 1684). The book was very well received and Latin and English editions followed. Notoriously, however, this first edition is actually a plagiarism of the text of Muskutomia by Wiliam Molins, and illustrations from the Tabula Anatomicae by Giulio Casseri. Regardless, John Browne continued to revise the work, and ten editions of the Myographia Nova were ultimately printed. See Garrison-Morton 11684 and Waller. 1510. Heirs of Hippocrates 422: “John Browne, physician to King Charles II, James II, and William III, was primarily a surgeon who practiced for a number of years at Norwhich and later was surgeon to St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. His most important contribution was one of the clearest early descriptions of cirrhosis of the liver.”