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May 23, 2017 12:00 PM - June 2, 2017 10:00 AMCalender

Beaumont, Dr. William (1785-1853) Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion.

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Auction: Books & Manuscripts - 3012TLocation: MarlboroughDate / Time: May 23, 2017 12:00PM


Beaumont, Dr. William (1785-1853) Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion. Plattsburgh: F.P. Allen, 1833. First edition, octavo, illustrated with three large woodcuts of the unfortunate Alexis St. Martin's torso, showing the fistula that occurred when a gunshot wound healed in such a way that direct access to the interior of his stomach was accessible from the outside of his body by means of a flap of skin; rebound in full sheepskin, with a few marginal notes; ex libris the father and son physicians Henry Pickering Bowditch (1840-1911) and Harold Bowditch (1883-1964),with their bookplates and an inscription, 9 x 5 in.
Before Dr. Beaumont met Alexis St. Martin, the relative inaccessibility of the functioning stomach of a living subject kept our knowledge of the process of digestion in a rather profound state of ignorance. It wasn't until Dr. Beaumont tended to Alexis St. Martin that this veil was finally removed from our understanding. St. Martin was shot and expected to die shortly thereafter. His stomach prolapsed from the wound, making death by infection almost inevitable. Dr. Beaumont gave his patient special attention and was rewarded with a research opportunity of questionable ethical validity. Even so, Dr. Beaumont carried out 238 digestive experiments on his subject, and even tied bits of food to silk threads, inserting them into the stomach and retrieving them at different intervals to check on the progress of digestion. Ethical questions aside, human knowledge of digestion made a quantum leap forward.
Estimate $500-700

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William, Henry Pickering Bowditch, Harold Bowditch