Publisher Information: London: T. and G. Underwood, 1821.
Laennec, René Théophile Hyacinth (1781-1826). A treatise on the diseases of the chest, in which they are described according to their anatomical characters, and their diagnosis established on a new principle by means of acoustick instruments. Translated by John Forbes (1787-1861). 8vo. , vii-xl, , , 2-437, pp. 8 engraved plates by John Pope Vibert (1797-1865). London: T. and G. Underwood, 1821. Modern half morocco gilt in antique style, in a half morocco drop-back box. Old library stamp almost invisibly removed from margin of title with no loss of text or margins. Plates slightly foxed but a fine copy from the Max Miller collection. Later owner’s bookplate on front pastedown.
First Edition in English of Laennec’s De l’Auscultation médiate (1819), printed in an edition of only 500 copies, compared to the total printing of 3600 copies that comprised the two states of the first edition in French. Laennec’s invention of the stethoscope, which he announced in his 1819 treatise, provided the first adequate method for diagnosing diseases of the thorax and represented the greatest advance in physical diagnosis between Auenbrugger’s percussion and Röntgen’s discovery of x-rays.
Forbes abridged parts of Laennec’s work, omitted others, and condensed the remainder, reducing it to about half of its original length. Although he greatly underestimated the influence the stethoscope was to have on medicine, Forbes nevertheless was as responsible as anyone else for introducing and popularizing the use of the stethoscope in the English-speaking world. According to a letter from Forbes to Laennec, all 500 copies of the small English printing had been sold by September 1823. This suggests that the initial reception of the stethoscope was slow in England; however, by the time of the second English edition (1827), demand for the instrument had widened exponentially. Bishop, “Reception of the stethoscope and Laennec’s book,” Thorax (1981): 36, 487-92. Norman 1256.Book Id: 43642