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Octoginta volumina

Octoginta volumina

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Octoginta volumina

by Hippocrates

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Norwich, Norfolk, United Kingdom
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About This Item

Folio, 280 x 205 cm, late 18th or early 19th century morocco, stained, spine gilt, darkened, lettered gilt, contemporary marbled endpapers, 410 leaves, woodcut title page border entirely unshaved at the top and rarely found thus, Roman, italic and gothic types, table of contents in double columns, index in three columns, printed shoulder notes, large woodcut initials, some browning and old damp staining to upper margins throughout, insignificant wormhole to upper margin of last few leaves, engraved armorial bookplate of Johnstone to front pastedown, library stamp to lower blank margins of nine leaves, complete with colophon and final blank, an excellent large copy.

Printing & the Mind of Man 55. Adams, H567. Grolier, Medicine 1A. Wellcome 3177. NLM 2320.


1. Johnstone, armorial bookplate, either Edward Johnstone [1757-1851], physician, first President of the provincial Medical & Surgical Association, one of the original physicians of the Birmingham General Hospital; or his brother John Johnstone [1768-1836] physician at the General Hospital. Gifted to

2. Birmingham General Hospital, founded 1779, whose books were gifted to

3. Birmingham Medical Institute Library founded 1875


An important and interesting copy, with the woodcut title entirely unshaved and a copy belonging to an 18th century English physician who gifted it to his local hospital.

The Greek physician Hippocrates was regarded as the 'Father of Medicine' because he was the first to insist that the art of healing depended on scientific method and ethical observation. Probably born on the island of Cos, where there was some sort of medical school linked with the cult of Aesculapius. There he is said to have taught under a plane tree. The so-called Hippocratic collection, which almost certainly comprises not only his own work but that of pupils and followers, consists of more than seventy books on medicine, of which the Aphorisms and the Airs, Waters and Places are among the most important: the section on epidemics is of great interest as are the clinical descriptions such as pneumonia, malaria and mumps. Descriptions of the ancient instruments are an interesting part of the surgical writings. Hippocrates proscribed a code of medical ethics for his disciples, summarised in the traditional Hippocratic Oath still administered today to physicians on qualification.

"The 'Hippocratic collection'...contains eighty works. They include contributions by various authors and schools but all are inspired by Hippocratic ideals...The first Greek edition was published by Aldus in 1526" PMM

Marcus Fabio Calvo of Ravenna, a friend of Raphael, prepared a complete Latin translation of the Hippocratic corpus, collating and writing out his own manuscript of the Greek text, depending on mainly a 14th century manuscript, but also consulting a 12th century codex that is one of the oldest and most important Hippocratic manuscripts. The source manuscripts and Calvo's Greek text and Latin translation are preserved in the Vatican Library.

The bookseller and printer Francesco Calvo printed Marcus Fabio Calvo's Latin translation of Hippocrates in Rome in 1525.


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Hamish Riley-Smith Rare Books GB (GB)
Bookseller's Inventory #
Octoginta volumina
Book Condition
Used - Good
Quantity Available
The Father of Medicine - a physician's copy
Franciscus Minutius Calvus
Place of Publication
Date Published

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Hamish Riley-Smith Rare Books

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About the Seller

Hamish Riley-Smith Rare Books

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio member since 2014
Norwich, Norfolk

About Hamish Riley-Smith Rare Books

Obituary: Book dealer Hamish Riley-Smith (1941-2020), as published in The Antique Trade Gazette
Rare book specialist Hamish Riley-Smith, who died on August 10, did not originally intend to become a dealer.
He went to Trinity College Dublin, where he read economics and met our mother Brigitta (Gita) von Wagner. He planned to work in the family brewing business, John Smith's, and spent seven years learning the craft at Whitbread's. But after all the family interest in John Smith's was sold in 1972, he looked for a new career.
In 1974 he started Hamish Riley-Smith Rare Books. He had no formal training in the book business, other than an acute awareness of business and a degree in economics. He started, in his own words, as a runner, taking one book to another dealer and making a small margin.
Hamish quickly realised this was not for him and started to focus on Arabic and economic books and the social sciences. Through knowledge and research he built up a strong and friendly working relationship with the Japanese, travelling to Japan often. He also traded in Arabia, the US and Europe.
Sacks of catalogues
We can remember how sacks of catalogues would leave the house and go off to museums and institutions across the world, and answers would come back via telex. This was a world before the internet, mobile phones and faxes and computers were only just coming in.
Among his proudest sales were the 14th century Qur'an manuscript of Mameluk Sultan Al Malik Al Nasir Muhammad (pictured here); The Papers of Sir Roy Harrod; The library of Sir John Hicks; The Betjeman Library; typescript/manuscript of Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractus Logico Philosophicus; The Felibriges Library of Musée Theodore Aubanel, Avignon; as well as collections of Isaac Newton; John Locke; Thomas Hobbes; Shakespeare; William Petty; Robert Owen and Adam Smith.
He was resolute in his independence and had many friends and colleagues in the book business, but he never did a book fair ("I am not a book fairy") and refused to join any trade associations.
He will be remembered by the family as a loving husband, father and grandfather, and a great source of fun and interest; for Hamish, above all, family came first. His business will continue to be run by his wife Gita and two sons, Damian, director of Paragraph Publishing, and Crispian, director of Crispian Riley-Smith Fine Arts Ltd.


Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

Highly sought after by some collectors, a book plate is an inscribed or decorative device that identifies the owner, or former...
The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf....
Very generally, "leaves" refers to the pages of a book, as in the common phrase, "loose-leaf pages." A leaf is a single sheet...
The colophon contains information about a book's publisher, the typesetting, printer, and possibly even includes a printer's...
The decorative application of gold or gold coloring to a portion of a book on the spine, edges of the text block, or an inlay in...
Title Page
A page at the front of a book which may contain the title of the book, any subtitles, the authors, contributors, editors, the...
Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye. (see also...

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