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    Willis' Influential Work on the Nervous System
    with Fifteen Anatomical Plates

    Thomas Willis. Cerebri Anatome: Cui Accessit Nervorum Description & Usus. [Bound with:] De Ratione Motus Musculorum. Amstelodami: Gerbrandum Schagen [and:] Casparum Commelinum, 1664. Twelvemo. [22], 273; 32 pages. Text in Latin. Fifteen engraved anatomical plates (most folding) by Christopher Wren and Richard Lower unsigned; printer's devices on both title pages, and decorated initials. Contemporary vellum with yapp edges, holograph title and shelving number to spine. Vellum soiled, spine darkened and warped; rear hinge open, no front free endpaper, rear pastedown present yet detached from board, pages lightly cockled, ink stains on upper right corner of title page, tears to folding plates, border paper loss in last folding plate, foxing, and occasional damp stains. Otherwise a good copy of Willis' influential work on the nervous system.

    More Information:

    "In 1664 Thomas Willis (1621-1675) published a text on the brain and nerves that was to be deeply influential for the next two centuries. Initially, Cerebri Anatome had little impact on English medical practice, though it enhanced Willis's reputation to the extent that he was able to become a prosperous London physician.

    "Primitive descriptions of the arterial anastomosis at the base of the brain already existed in 1664. Willis improved on these accounts, and made the first attempt to attribute a function to the anatomy that he described. In the eighteenth century his description of the brain became accepted as definitive, appearing in the Bibliotheca Anatomica of 1774-1777 for the first time as the famous 'circle of Willis'. Modern historical scholarship has highlighted the contribution that Willis made to neuroanatomy, which had been previously eclipsed by contemporaries such as Thomas Browne.

    "Although his description of the anatomy of the brain remains important for contemporary neurological science, Willis's understanding of the brain was very different from that of modern scientific thought. Willis wrote Cerebri Anatome while Professor of Natural Philosophy in Oxford, where he used the anatomy of the brain as a tool to investigate the nature of the soul. He wrote at a time when England was in great political and religious turmoil, following the Civil War and the execution of Charles I, and his work reflects his allegiances during this turbulent period. In this paper, I discuss the dependence of Willis's description of anatomy upon his concept of the human soul. By considering Cerebri Anatome as a product of the life that Willis led, it is possible to understand his anatomical descriptions as a reflection of beliefs and practices in the mid-seventeenth century."- O'Connor.

    O'Connor, James P B. "Thomas Willis and the Background to Cerebri Anatome." Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 96.3 (2003): 139-143.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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