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    Alexander Fleming. "On the Antibacterial Action of Cultures of a Penicillium, with special reference to their use in the isolation of B. Influenzae." in The British Journal of Experimental Pathology, Volume Ten, pages 226-236. London: H. K. Lewis & Co., 1929. First edition of the first announcement of the discovery of penicillin. Octavo (9.5 x 6.875 inches; 241 x 176 mm.). One plate between pages 228 and 229, containing four figures. Whole volume collation: vii, [1, blank], 407, [1, blank] pages. Modern half brown calf, ruled in gilt, over marbled boards, spine in six compartments with five raised bands and two black leather labels ruled and lettered in gilt; four compartments ruled in gilt with a decorative gilt center tool; decoratively tooled in gilt at top and bottom of spine and dated in gilt at foot; edges sprinkled red. Half-title beginning to separate at gutter; slight browning, especially around the edges; some marginal soiling; a few upper corner tips torn away; short tears to upper margin of pages [109]/110 and lower margin of pages 111/112; short tear to upper margin of pages 113/114, entering the text, with an old tissue repair; one-inch tear to lower margin of plate facing page 194, not affecting image; final leaf repaired in upper gutter; title-page with blue ink stamp of the "Children's Hospital / Research Foundation Library" and embossed stamp of the "Library of the Children's Hospital Research Foundation Cincinnati, Ohio" (with the last line erased); ink accession number on verso of title-page; black ink stamp of "The Children's Hospital," mostly in the upper margin on pages 51, 151, 201, 251, 301, and 351, a few times with offsetting onto the facing page; pencil note at foot of p. [1]. A very good copy, handsomely bound. Housed in a brown morocco and marbled board slipcase. Garrison-Morton 1933; Grolier, Medicine, 96; Heirs of Hippocrates 2320; Norman Library 798; Printing and the Mind of Man 420a.

    More Information: "When Alexander Fleming [1881-1955] began his work at St Mary's Hospital in London under the leadership of Sir Almroth Wright he was following the Listerian tradition and seeking new and more powerful antiseptics which could be used internally without damaging healthy tissues. It was in the course of this research that Fleming noticed the accidental contamination of a culture plate of staphylococci by a mould which had floated through the window. The colonies of this common pus-forming bacterium adjacent to the mould appeared to be destroyed by it. The mould was identified as penicillium notatum and when cultures of it were developed it was found to produce a brown liquid substance which Fleming named 'penicillin' and which was shown to have a powerful destructive action on a wide range of microbes. It was also found to be a chemically complex and unstable substance which, it seemed, would be impossible to produce and store on a large scale. Many attempts at chemical analysis were fruitless and it might well have become an obscure scientific curiosity but for the work of [Ernest] Chain and [Howard] Florey" (Printing and the Mind of Man).

    Fleming "had to abandon clinical trials due to his inability to make a pure and stable preparation of the drug, and subsequently used the 'mold juice' primarily to isolate penicillin-insensitive bacteria. In 1940 Ernest Chain, Howard Florey and their co-workers succeeded in stabilizing and purifying the drug. Soon afterwards it began to be produced on a large scale at factories in the United States; it was responsible for saving innumerable lives during World War II. Fleming, Chain and Florey shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945" (Norman Library).

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2020
    4th Wednesday
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