With a Remarkable Series of Woodcuts by Jost Amman
RUEFF, Jakob. De conceptu et generatione hominis. De matrice et eius partibus, nec non de conditione infantis in utero, et gravidarum cura et officio. Frankfurt am Main: Sigismund Feyrabend for Georg Corvinus , 1580.
The first edition to contain the woodcuts of Jost Amman which are the “first true anatomical pictures in an obstetrics book." (Garrison and Morton). Also this is the second Latin edition. Small quarto (7 7/16 x 6 1/4 inches; 199 x 160 mm.). [6], 100, [1, blank] leaves. With blank b2. Large woodcut title vignette and numerous woodcut illustrations, some full-page.

Old limp vellum. Paper label on spine. Newer front endpapers. Flyleaf backed. Title-page lightly frayed along edges. Leaf 47 with a tear to the upper corner, with loss just affecting leaf number. Vellum soiled and darkened. Some minor toning throughout leaves. Previous owner’s old ink notes on title-page and flyleaf. Still a very good copy with intricate woodcuts.

“This was the first edition to contain the woodcuts of Jost Amman(1539-1591), the Swiss-born illustrator. They include two scenes of a pregnant noblewoman and of a woman giving birth with the midwife in attendance, 26 cuts of the uterus and developing foetus, 5 of obstetrical instruments and 3 of abdominal organs. A large number of cuts are also devoted to human deformities and monsters. Although there is still some religious basis to the latter, Rueff's was the first obstetrical book to contain meaningful anatomical illustrations, and remained in use for the best part of a century.” (Christie’s)

Rueff (1500-1558) was a physician and professor of medicine in his native Zurich. “Based on Rösslin’s best-selling Rosengarten, but intended for physicians and scholars as well as midwives, De conceptu was more than a practical handbook of midwifery. Among its illustrations are three full-page woodcuts of the female reproductive organs derived from Vesalius’s Fabrica, a correct representation of the birthing stool, the toothed ‘duck-bill’ pincer for removing a dead fetus and a series of smaller cuts depicting both real and imaginary monstrosities, which Rueff believed to be the work of the devil. Of greater interest, however, is the series of seven woodcuts illustrating contemporary ideas of mammalian embryology, which provide a unique and valuable insight into how early writers envisioned the process of embryonic development. Rueff’s illustrations, based upon the writings of Galen and Aristotle, show the mixture of blood and semen coagulating in the womb into an egg-shaped mass; the subsequent development of organs and blood-vessels (taken from observations of chicken embryos); the arrangement of these into an outline of the human form; and the completed fetus” (Norman Library regarding the First Edition).

Garrison and Morton. NLM/Durling 3981. Norman Library 1856 (First edition).

HBS # 68494 $10,000