A rare collection of 18th-century medical cases
Alexander Balthazaar. Heelkundige waarnemingen, inzonderheid van zwaare en moeijelijke gevallen. Leiden, Jacob Meerburg, J.J. Thyssen, 1779.
Alexander Balthazaar. Eenige en wel de voornaamste gedrogten, de waardige genees en heelkunde [...] het bedriegelyke momaanzigt onttoogen. Leiden, Karel Delfos, 1761.
8vo (22,5 x 13,5 cm). XXIV, 382,  pp., with one folding engraved plate; XXXIX, [1 blank] pp.
Contemporary half calf, sprinkled sides. Some (faint) stains and the binding damaged with the corners bumped. Bookplate on upper paste-down: "[J.] Van der Hoeven", with motto "Recte Faciendo Neminem Timeas". Uncut, leaving deckle edges and point holes intact.
An intriguing collection of medical cases by barber surgeon Alexander Balthazaar.
Balthazaar practised in Leiden for several decades and the Heelkundige waarnemingen reflects this broad experience. He treats primarily challenging and complicated cases, including fractures, fistulas, amputations, inflammations, hernias, etc.
Balthazaar was very critical of his fellow practitioners and medical practice in general. Indeed, the second work, Eenige en wel de voornaamste gedrogten, is a 39-page diatribe against the poor state of medical practice as he saw it, pointing out the many blunders he encountered in his day-to-day practice.
Alexander Balthazaar didn't make it into the canon of medical history, yet his writings offer a revealing glimpse into 18th-century medical practice, when patients were left to the mercy of barber surgeons without anesthetics and antibiotics.
No copies sold at auction in the last 35 years.
Ad 1: Blake, p. 30; STCN (5 copies); ad 2: Blake, p. 30; STCN (2 copies).