[PMM 149] LOWER, Richard.
Tractatus de corde. Item de motu & colore sanguinis et chyli in eum transitu. London: John Redmayne for James Allestry 1669
A fine copy of “the most important contribution to circulatory physiology after William Harvey’s De motu cordis” Grolier/Medicine 34; PMM 149; Norman 1397.
“Nobel Laureate André Cournand considered Lower’s book to be one of the most important texts in the history of physiology because of the nature of its observations, the rigor of its experimental design and demonstrations, and its simple and convincing form of presentation (W. Bruce Fye in: One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine).
Lower (1631-91) was a London physician who had studied at Oxford, where he knew Thomas Willis, Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke. “Lower’s main work was on the anatomy and physiology of the blood system. He gave the most accurate description of the structure of the heart to date, and explored the structure and function of the veins and arteries. He elucidated the mechanism of respiration. It had been known since antiquity that venous and arterial blood differed in colour; Lower showed conclusively that this difference was caused purely by the admixture of air as the blood from the right side of the heart flowed through the lungs. He even showed that venous blood could be made to resemble arterial blood by shaking a sample in air. He concluded that the change in colour was caused by the blood’s absorption of air, which explained why air is necessary to life. His experiments were admirably devised and conducted, and De Corde (‘A Treatise on the Heart’) is a worthy successor to Hrvey’s De Motu Cordis” (Printing and the Mind of Man).
The work “also contains a number of other important observations, such as the scroll-like structure of the cardiac muscle (confirmed 250 years later by Mall), the heart’s contractive and expulsive movements, the temponade effect of pericardial effusion and the heart. The The fourth chapter contains a brief review of the history of blood transfusion and an account of a transfusion from dog to dog, ‘the first demonstration of the potential safety of a method which three centuries later was to revolutionize surgery’ [Fishman & Richards, p. 37].” (Norman).
There are two states of Lower’s book: one has the catchword ‘Im-’ and the other ‘quic-’ to the first page of A6 of the preliminary. In this copy A6 has the catchword ‘quic-’. According to Fulton the reason for the change was “to modify (very slightly) a scurrilous remark that [Lower] had originally made concerning the Irishman O’Meara”. Both states are, according to Norman, rare.
“The British Library copy of this book bears the signature of Walter Charleton, followed by the date ‘1668’; it is possible, therefore, that the book actually appeared in that year and not 1669” (Garrison-Morton). Another printing from Amsterdam, also dated 1669, is generally considered to be the second issue (see Heirs of Hippocrates 582).
8vo: 167 x 116 mm, pp  220  and 7 folding engraved plates (complete with the initial blank A1). Contemporary English calf, spine gilt in compartments, boards single blind ruled. Clean and fresh throughout, plates with no tears. A fine and unrestored copy. Rare in such good condition.