Patrick's Rare Books

Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 1650 - with Shakespeare second folio leaf!

Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 1650 - with Shakespeare second folio leaf!

Pseudodoxia Epidemica: Or, Enquiries into Very many Received Tenents, And commonly Presumed Truths. By Thomas Browne, Dr of Physick. The Second Edition, Corrected and much Enlarged by the Author. Together with some Marginall Observations, and a Table Alphabeticall at the end.
London, 1650.


Small folio in contemporary full brown leather with five raised bands on spine. Red page edges. Leather scuffed at coroners and edges, as well as chipped at top of spine. Rear hinge starting to crack at top and bottom. Boards still securely attached. Both hinges cracked internally. Book plate and somewhat elaborate 17th century annotation on front paste down. Prior owner’s signatures on full title and Address to the Reader. Some mild brown stains and rare worming scattered about text block, not at all intrusive. Binding tight throughout. Pages bright and margins ample.


Rear paste down is page 75 extracted from Shakespeare’s The Life of King Henry the Fifth, textually and typographically matching that of the Second Folio of 1632 (cropped 8 lines from the bottom and with scattered soiling, the text corresponds to Act 2, scene II (beginning l.144) into scene IV (ending l.104). 


The annotation on the front paste down reads: 

“Ad pag: 43 

There hath of late been found a certain kind of load-stone, which is of a mixt coloure betw. white and black, & something resembling that of iron, that if a knife or needle be touched with it, it will cutt and enter into a man’s body, without ye least sense of paine at all. Which gave occasion to ye learned (??cardano??) who himself also tried ye experiment (??. De subtil. 1.6.7.) to say that our Mountebanks which we see slash and cutt themselves upon theire stages without y least change of countenance doe make use of this experiment. Gaffarel Curiosities. P. 98. --” 


This quote is taken almost verbatim from Unheard-of Curiosities concerning the talismanical scultpure of the Persians. Part II. Chapter 5, page 98 (Gaffarel, Jacques 1601 – 1681, Chilmead, Edmund 1610 – 1654, translator). 


The Pseudodoxia Epidemica was a well-received book which challenged common lore and mythology of the day. Though lacking citation for the following claim, the current version of the Wikipedia article on this book states that Browne apparently coined numerous neologisms in the work, including electricity, medical, literary, hallucination, computer, and pathology (though, we already know that, in Latin, this word, along with the word physiology, was coined by Jean Fernel). 


The second edition of an important English work with a pastedown leaf extracted from the second edition of one of the most important English works in literary history.