Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    First English Edition of van Helmont's Influential
    Work on the Use of Chemistry in Medicine

    Jan Baptista van Helmont. [Walter Charleton, translator]. Deliramenta Catarrhi: Or, The Incongruities, Impossibilities, and Absurdities Couched under the Vulgar Opinion of Defluxions. London: E[dward] G[riffin]. for William Lee, 1650. First English edition. Quarto. A4, a2, B-K4, L2. [12], 75, [1] pages. Head-pieces and decorated initials. Modern full spotted calf, blind rules on covers, boards lightly rubbed and scuffed, title gilt on spine; small track in lower right corner of A2-a2 from biopredation, dampstains and old marginal notations throughout, good margins, overall a very good copy. From the Krown & Spellman Collection.
    Please visit for an extended description of this lot.

    More Information:

    Some historians rank Helmont (1577-1644) as the greatest chemist before Lavoisier. Helmont drew his principles from Paracelsus, and similarly sought a cosmological and unified view of the natural sciences.  "In the field of medicine his introduction of chemical ideas into this science tended toward the introduction of the scientific spirit as opposed to the empiricism of the Paracelsian School." -Duveen, page 286.

    Walter Charleton, (1620-1707), physician and natural philosopher. "Charleton embarked on his publishing career in 1650 with three small books, two of them (A Ternary of Paradoxes and Deliramenta Catarrhi) being translations of works by Van Helmont and the other a Helmontian exercise in the causes and cure of 'the stone' (Spiritus Gorgonicus, 1650). Charleton's translations were the first of Van Helmont's works to appear in English, and they drew attention to Charleton as a representative of the new iatrochemistry. This was then much in vogue with more radical thinkers, who saw Galenism in medicine as an ancient authority, which did more to bolster the authority of the church and the crown than to heal the ills of the people. As Charleton says in the preface to Deliramenta Catarrhi, he was vigorously condemned by the more orthodox among his medical colleagues."-Oxford DNB.

    "Charleton's last publication of 1650 was Deliramenta Catarrhi... which contains a critical and well informed investigation into orthodox explanations of catarrhal defluxions. Despite his growing disenchantment with Helmontianism, the young author agrees with Van Helmont's judgment that these explanations were almost entirely spurious. These three books established Charleton's reputation in the medical world, since they were the first of Helmont's works to be published in England. They represented a radical project both intellectually and professionally since the chemical therapy advocated by Helmont, and hence by Charleton, was directly opposed to the Galenic tradition exemplified in the official pharmacoepia issued earlier by the College of Physicians." -Lindsay Sharp, "Walter Charleton's Early Life"... Annals of Science, v30, #3].          

    Wing H1398. Buning 1769.  Thomason E601 [6]. ESTC r202434. Osler 2933. Waller 4304. Wellcome III, 242. Pritchard, Alchemy, 496. Neu 180.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    5th Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 851

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $100,000 (minimum $14), plus 20% of any amount between $100,000 and $1,000,000, plus 12% of any amount over $1,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Aug 5, 2015 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 December 12 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    We had a wonderful time in New York during the October 2013 Historical Manuscripts auction that featured my mother’s papers collected during her tenure as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s secretary. In fact, the entire experience from beginning to end has been a pleasure.
    Howard Ballou,
    Brandon, MS
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search