1833. Plattsburgh [NY]: F.P. Allen, 1833.
4to (218 x 135 mm), 280 pp., three wood-engraved figures in text. Original tan paper-covered boards, linen backstrip, printed paper label, quarter brown morocco slipcase, a very good copy of a fragile book.
§ First edition, first issue, of what has been termed the greatest single contribution to the knowledge of gastric digestion. Association copy inscribed by Willard Parker “the first American to operate for appendicitis” (G-M 3564). Beaumont was an army surgeon at Fort Mackinac, Michigan when he first attended Alexis St. Martin, a French Canadian woodsman who had suffered an accidental gunshot wound to the stomach. Against all probability Beaumont saved his life and, as the hole healed, used the opportunity to study the physiological process of digestion by maintaining access to St. Martin’s stomach using a specially constructed skin flap. William Osler was fascinated by the case and, when St. Martin died at the age of 78, tried unsuccessfully to acquire his stomach for the Army Medical Museum; he later wrote: “To the medical bibliographer there are few more treasured Americana than the brown-backed, poorly printed octavo volume of 280 pages with the imprint Plattsburgh, Printed by F.P. Allen, 1833". The first edition is generally believed to have been 1000 copies. The only book to appear in three Grolier One Hundreds (American #38, Science #10, Medicine #61). Norman 152. Heralds of Science 130. Howes B291 (“most important American contribution to medical science”). Item #107911