Famous Jewish Bookdealer’s Copy on the Importance of Blood

Lemnius, Levinus. Di Levino Lennio, medico Zirizeo, Della complessione del corpo humano libri due, Sommamente necessarij à tutti coloro, che studiano alla sanità: Da quali a ciascuno sarà ageuole di conoscere perfettamente la qualità del corpo suo, e i mouimenti dell'animo, and il modo del conseruarsi del tutto sano. Nuouamente di Latino in Volgare...

In Venetia: Appresso Domenico Nicolino, mdlxiiii. [1564]. 162 x 112 mm (6 ⅜ x 4 ⅜ in). Octavo. [4], 124 [with page numbers 25–32 repeated, i.e. 132] ll. In Italian. Bound in vellum over wood boards; bookseller’s label on front pastedown: Ex libris Leonis S. Olschki Bibliopolae Florentini. N. inv. [handwritten] 46787.” Early inscription in Italian on leaf [4], refers to a doctor’s orders. Very good minus with light soiling throughout; spine and fore edge of front cover repaired with later vellum.

Levinus Lemnius was a Dutch physician and anatomist best known for his Occulta naturae miracula (Antwerp, 1559), which, like many of his books, offered practical advice for health and happiness. Lemnius studied medicine under Konrad Gesner at the University of Leuven, and later under Andreas Vesalius at the University of Padua.

The first Italian translation. This is the first edition of the Italian translation of De habitu et constitutione corporis. The work describes the human body through explanations of the spirits, temperaments, and, most importantly, humors, fluids that were believed to regulate human health and behavior. Drawing heavily on Aristotle and Galen, Lemnius explains that physical and mental illnesses result from imbalances in the humors, the most important of which is blood as it was the only one that passed through the heart. The importance and different combinations of heat and cold, moisture and dryness, to Lemnius’s conception of humoral pathology leads to extended discussions on the effects of the environment on the human body and temperament.

Helped establish the importance of blood in modern medicine. De habitu helped popularize blood as a vital force for early modern European doctors. Most of Lemnius’s works were meant as practical guides to health and were, with amazing speed,” translated into Italian, French, German, and English, remaining in print through the 17th century.

Famous Jewish bookdealer and publisher’s copy. This copy was once owned by the publisher and bookseller Leo Samuel Olschki. Born in Poland (then a part of Prussia) to a Jewish family of printers in 1861, Olschki began working in the book trade in 1880s Berlin before relocating to Italy from whence he issued erudite catalogs after opening his own firm in 1886. Olschki supplied antiquarian books to institutions like the British Museum and private collectors like Henry Walters (namesake of the Walters Museum in Baltimore, MD). He is described by the Institute of English Studies as one of the most important bookdealers in the world”. In 1938, Olschki was forced into exile from Italy to Switzerland, where he died in 1940. 


Santig, Catrien. “ For the Life of a Creature is in the Blood’ (Leviticus 17:11). Some Considerations on Blood as the Source of Life in Sixteenth-Century Religion and Medicine and their Interconnections.” In Blood, Sweat, and Tears: The Changing Concepts of Physiology from Antiquity into Early Modern Europe. Edited by Manfred Horstmanshoff, Helen King, and Claus Zittel. London: Brill, 2012. Pages 415–441. 

USTC 837830


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Stock Code: 1140B16 Collections: , Catalogue:


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