Patrick's Rare Books

Culpeper’s Vesling, Anatomy of the Body of Man, 1653

Culpeper’s Vesling, Anatomy of the Body of Man, 1653

The Anatomy of the Body of Man: Wherein is exactly described every Part thereof, in the same Manner as it is Commonly shewed in Publick Anatomies. And for the further help of yong Physitians and Chyrurgions, there is added very many Copper Cuts, far larger than is printed in any Book written in the English Tongue. Also Explanations of every particular expressed in the Copper Plates. Published in Latin by Joh. Veslingus, Reader of the Publick Anatomy in the most Famous University of Padua; And Englished by Nich. Culpeper Gen. Student in Physick and Astrology, living in Spittle-fields neer London. London: Printed by Peter Cole in Leaden-Hall, and are to be sold at his Shop, at the sign of the Printing-Press in Cornhill neer the Royal Exchange. 1653.


Full brown leather, with original blind tooled leather boards, rebacked and with edges restored. Red title plate with gold text on spine. Top front coroner bumped and chipped. Mild shelf wear of old and new leather. Original leather with scattered stains, scuffs, chips, gouges and/or worming. New end papers. Green ribbon page marker.  Book plate of James Tait Goodrich affixed to front paste down. Early ink writing on much of first two original fly leaves and on top margin of frontis. Lower margin of these with damp stain (not involving portrait of Culpeper). Bottom corners heavily thumbed and ragged, involving decorative border of title page, and encroaching upon text of first page of dedicatory epistle. Thereafter, thumbing and damage becomes less significant and further and further from text and plates, then worse again in last few leaves, again encroaching upon, but not involving images. Ink smudge in middle of second page of dedication (text still completely readable). Margins of original fly leaves chipped and creased. Ragged marginal loss of 55, 193/194, and final plate (image unaffected). Bottom and fore edge marginal tears of pages 35/36, 45/46 plate 8 and subsequent explanation (very slightly involving text and image). Scattered marginal worming. Scattered marginal damp stain, mostly remote from images, though extending into a few, most significantly Tab 9 and focally into Tab 10. Tear at top margin of Tab 10, not involving image. Bottom corner of Tab 18 gone, image spared. Faint stain within top left of Tab 21. A few additional faint foci of foxing and toning. Otherwise, bright and tight throughout, and free of internal markings. 24 plates in total, apparently complete.


3 new blanks, 2 original blanks, frontis, title page, 4 pages dedicatory epistle, 3 pages (B – B2) To the Reader, 1 page Contents, 3 pages Vesling to the Reader, 1 page advertisements, 1 – 192 text and plates, (193) blank with verso: Explanation of table, plate 24, original blank with contemporary ink writing, 3 new blanks.


Measures: 11 x 7 ¼ x 1 1/8 inches.


Heirs of Hippocrates 303 & 304: “A native Westphalian, Vesling lived for a time in Egypt and Palestine before becoming professor of anatomy at Padua in 1632. He was also director of the botanical gardens and made scientific journeys to Canada and the Orient to study botany. He published the first edition of his anatomical manual in 1641 without illustrations.” The second edition included 24 copper plates and a “finely engraved title page depicting the anatomical theater at Padua.”


Johann Vesling  (1598 – Aug 30, 1649) published his Syntagma anatomicum in 1641, with a second edition in quarto in 1647. This was translated into English, in folio, 1653, by Nicholas Culpeper. The plates “were intended for the commonest needs but are mostly original engravings and represent some organs of the human body more correctly than their predecessors. They were very popular at the time of their appearance and have been frequently re-engraved.” (Choulant, pg 243).


Culpepper was the son of an English clergyman and studied at Cambridge. He did apprenticeships under apothecaries. He translated Galen, Sennert, Riviere, Riolan, Vesling, and Glisson.


Not in Garrison-Morton.

For Vesling, see Waller 9928 – 9933