Patrick's Rare Books

Syme Contributions to the Pathology and Practice of Surgery 1848 Inscribed co

Syme, Contributions to the Pathology and Practice of Surgery, 1848, Inscribed co

Contributions to the Pathology and Practice of Surgery. By James Syme, F.R.S.E. Edinburgh, 1848. 

Octavo volume with spine rebacked in cloth and retained brown paper-covered boards. Tear at upper corner of page 329/330 (text unaffected). Binding tight throughout. Text block clean and bright. Multiple interesting in-text figures. Society of Apothecaries book plate on front paste down. A very good copy. 

Syme (1799 to 1870) was, in 1818, assistant to Robert Liston in the dissecting room, and, in 1854 Syme’s assistant was Joseph Lister. He also studied under Dupuytren for a time. 

A penned an inscription across the top of the title page reads, “(???) – with the author’s compliments.” The recipient of this inscription remains problematic to my mind. The first name which came to mind was J C Carpue, because this book was purchased from a plastic surgeon’s library which included three books written by Joseph Constantine Carpue (famous for performing the first Rhinoplasty in England). But as this book was published in 1848 and Carpue died in 1846, the only way it could be addressed to Carpue is if Syme was unaware of his death two years prior and inscribed it with intent to send the book to Carpue—this could hardly be the case! The next name which comes to mind, as a most probable acquaintance of Syme, is Samuel Cooper (1780 – December 1848), the English surgeon who published a now-famous surgical dictionary. However, the first initials in the inscription are not very convincing for Samuel. From here the search becomes somewhat more imaginative. Elias Samuel Cooper is a thought. He was a famous American surgeon who also was tangled up in accusations of grave robbing (his supporters against this accusation were called Cooperites). He traveled to Europe in 1854. However, I do not know if he also visited the UK. If so, it is conceivable he met Syme and had the book inscribed six years after its publication (or, perhaps he was in correspondence with Syme while he was still in the USA and request that a copy of the book be inscribed and sent to him?). The possibility of Johann Ludwig Casper (1796 – 1864, famous pathologist and forensic pioneer) also comes to mind, as he was equally famous as Syme and the two celebrities might have corresponded or even met at some point. All of these remain hypothetical, but are included here to hopefully save the buyer time and energy in his/her own potential endeavors to research and identify the recipient of this inscribed copy. While we are speculating, I should mention the names Cowper, Caspar, Cosper, and even the title Lt Corporal entered my mind as possible solutions. Lastly, it is entirely possible (probable?) that the recipient was of no fame or importance at all and will forever remain unidentified as a proverbial nobody. Regardless, I leave the remainder of this treasure hunt to the buyer.