Title An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae, A disease discovered in some of the western counties of England, particularly Gloucestershire, and known by the name of the Cow Pox.
Publisher London: Printed for the author by Sampson Low, 1798.
Seller ID M10465
4to. iv, 75 pp. 4 plates printed in red and finished by hand, the first plate drawn and engraved by William Skelton, the other three plates by Skelton after Edward Pearce; lacks half-title (as usual), light foxing. Later nineteenth-century style full gilt-stamped straight-grained morocco, new black morocco gilt labels. New quarter maroon morocco drop-back box, spine labels. Fine. RARE. FIRST EDITION. As a country doctor, Jenner found that farmers and dairymaids who had developed sores as a result of infection with cowpox seemed to be immune to smallpox. He postulated that the prior exposure to cowpox and subsequent immunity to both diseases indicated that the two diseases were related. In order to test his hypothesis, Jenner used matter from the pustule of a dairymaid’s cowpox sore (Case XVI) to inoculate a small boy (Case XVII) and induce cowpox artificially. To test his theory of immunization, Jenner later infected the same boy with variolous (smallpox) matter. When the boy didn’t develop smallpox, Jenner’s theory was proven by challenge, a test which would be considered highly dangerous today. “Jenner was the first to test experimentally the folk belief that cowpox conferred immunity to its deadly relative smallpox, and the first to transmit the cowpox virus from person to person in order to build a population immune to smallpox. ‘His confidence was vindicated at last when the World Health Organization announced in 1980 that small pox had been eradicated from all countries by intensive vaccination campaigns’ [LeFanu], making it the first disease to be eliminated by man. Jenner’s use of the tern ‘virus’ to describe the pathogenic exudates from cowpox and smallpox pustules was a first step toward further specialization of the word. He was also the first to describe anaphylaxis, thus providing a foundation for the study of allergy.” [Norman]. “Jenner established the fact that a ‘vaccination’ or inoculation with vaccinia (cowpox) lymph matter protects against smallpox… The above work, describing 23 successful vaccinations, announced to the world one of the greatest triumphs in the history of medicine. Jennerian vaccination soon superseded the protective inoculation of material from human cases of smallpox, which had previously been in vogue.” [Garrison & Morton]. Blake/NLM p. 235; Dibner 127; Garrison, History of Medicine, pp. 372-5; Garrison & Morton 5423; Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine, 53; Heirs of Hippocrates 1086; Horblit 56; LeFanu, A bibliography of Edward Jenner, 2nd ed., 25; Norman 1162; Osler 1251; Printing and the Mind of Man 250; Waller 5140; Wellcome III, p. 351. First Edition.