Publisher Information: Boston: 1846.
Bigelow, Henry Jacob (1818-90). Insensibility during surgical operations produced by inhalation. In: Boston Medical and Surgical Journal 35, no. 16 (November 18, 1846): 309-17 & no. 19 (December 9, 1846): 379-82. Whole volume, 8vo. 544pp. Boston: David Clapp, 1847. 227 x 135 mm. 19th century sheep, rebacked and recornered in calf, spine a bit faded, light rubbing. Light browning, occasional foxing but very good. Paul Swift’s “Alphabetical index” to the major articles in the first 33 volumes of the BMSJ laid in. Bookplate.
First Edition. The formal announcement of the discovery of surgical anesthesia, probably the greatest medical discovery made in America during the nineteenth century. The Boston dentist W. T. G. Morton, after learning about ether anesthesia from Charles T. Jackson, obtained permission from John Collins Warren, chief of surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, to attempt anesthesia on a surgical patient. On October 16, with Morton administering the ether, Warren successfully removed a portion of a vascular tumor from the neck of his patient. The following day, Morton again administered ether to a patient undergoing an operation to remove a fatty tumor from her arm. At this point the surgeons at Massachusetts General refused to employ Morton’s “Letheon” any further unless Morton revealed its exact nature—which he had hitherto kept secret in the hopes of patenting it—and allowed its free use at the hospital. On November 6, on the advice of Henry J. Bigelow, Morton at last divulged that his “Letheon” was in fact sulfuric ether. On November 7, Morton administered ether to a patient undergoing amputation of the leg; with the success of this operation, “the value of ether as an anesthetic was established once and for all” (Wolfe, pp. 80-81).
Bigelow’s account of Morton’s and C. T. Jackson’s discovery, written after the November 7 operation, is contained in Vol. 35, no. 16 of the Boston Medical & Surgical Journal. His follow-up paper, contained in no. 19, contains his responses to challenges brought by J. F. Flagg, and mentions the contribution of Charles T. Jackson to the discovery. The journal numbers following no. 16 also contain several articles on anesthesia by other authors, attesting to how quickly the news of the discovery spread after Bigelow’s initial article. Fulton & Stanton IV.1. Garrison-Morton.com 5651. Norman / Grolier Medical Hundred 64A, noting that the separate offprint of Bigelow’s work was printed after the journal issue from completely reset type, omitting the last 7 paragraphs of the original article. Wolfe, Tarnished Idol, pp. 75-83.Book Id: 50575