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ANATOMY DESCRIPTIVE AND SURGICAL [GRAY’S ANATOMY] by  Henry Gray - First Edition - 1858 - from Merchants Rare Books (SKU: 5126I)


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by Gray, Henry

  • Used
  • very good
  • hardcover
  • First
Very Good
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About This Item

Rare First London Edition Of Gray's Anatomy. In very good condition. Protected in a custom leather clamshell case. Printed in 1858. Gray's Anatomy was originally issued in a cloth binding. This book was custom bound in fine leather by the prestigious 19th century bindery 'E. Walker & Sons' Bindery in New York soon after publication, and presumably has been rebound mid 20th century judging by the condition of the leather. This book comes with a matching leatherbound clamshell case. This book was custom bound and intended as a gift, thereby removing it from circulation. Most copies were used during dissection and exhibit significant usage wear. This copy is in remarkable condition. Half Title page is completely present. This book is complete. Only light generalized abrasion, wear to the marbled covers, as shown. Some generalized usage wear. Writing in pencil on final page of the index. One page has creased corner. In highly giftable and presentable condition.

Royal 8vo. xxxii, 750 pp. (note: page 369 incorrectly numbered 367). With 363 wood-engravings, index.

Modern half calf by E. Walker & Sons Bookbinders, marbled boards, raised bands, gilt-stamped rules and spine title on dark brown morocco, all edges marbled. Matching custom clamshell box.

Provenance: Original binder's stamp at rear: E. Walker & Sons, New York; title inscription to previous owner: Charles E. Hagner from Dr. Charles H. Smith. Presumably imported from London and soon custom bound in New York as a gift, thereby removing it from circulation, as most copies were used during disssection and destroyed by use. The current leather binding is recent, and it utilizes the original marbled covers. Charles Evelyn Hagner, M.D., (1847 - 1892), medical doctor and father of the first White House Press Secretary. He became a member of the Washington D.C. Medical Society in 1869. Charles Evelyn Hagner, M.D., of Washington D.C., gave a paper, "A Case of Hernia of Parturient Uterus through the Linea Alba." Read before the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, October 31, 1888. (JAMA.)

Handsome copy. RARE. FIRST EDITION, one of only 2000 copies printed, of the medical text which has been more widely used by successive generations of medical students and doctors than any other. Not only an important book of reference, Gray's Anatomy has become a household phrase.

"The success of the book was not due to an absence of rivals. There were already several texts on anatomy Gray's Anatomy, however, eclipsed all others, partly for its meticulous detail, partly for its emphasis on surgical anatomy, but most of all perhaps for the excellence of the illustrations, based on drawings by H. V. Carter, who assisted Gray with the dissections, and engraved by Messrs. Butterworth and Heath with remarkable skill. The design of the book, and the skill with which the illustrations were interpolated in the text, could hardly have been improved" (ODNB).

"The success of Gray's work may be due to the fact that he wrote clearly and arranged the contents of his book so well, integrating surgical anatomy into the main text. The excellent illustrations may also have contributed â " these were wood engravings after drawings by Henry Vandyke Carter, Gray's assistant at St. George's Medical School." Richard L. Golden [Grolier 100 Medical, 68].

"This lasting and monumental work, produced by a young man who dies young, must be compared to the Fabrica of Vesalius, who produced his great work before the age of thirty years" (Heirs to Hippocrates).

"The legendary work of Henry Gray titled Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical, popularly known as Gray's Anatomy was published in 1858 and the voluminous text had 750 pages which were complimented with 363 illustrations. Gray was an English anatomist & surgeon and he was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons at the time his work was first published. As the title of the text as well as the background of its author would suggest, Gray's text provided deep insights into the application of the knowledge of anatomy to surgical practice. In fact, the primary objective of the author was to induce the reader to apply the anatomical details to hone one's skills as a surgeon. In a way Gray's Anatomy followed the trend established by John and Charles Bell in their anatomical text, however Gray was able to present the details in a more evolved, elaborate and precise manner based on his long dissection sessions as well as through more number of illustrations used in the text. Moreover, Gray's Anatomy also introduced the concept of sectional anatomy by the use of illustrative depictions of methodically prepared sections of the human body. Although the concept presented in the text was in a rudimentary state, nevertheless it laid the foundation of a major advancement within the domain of anatomical sciences. In order to propel his readers forward Gray himself travelled the reverse path when as a painstaking and methodical worker, Gray (although he was a trained surgeon) advanced his anatomical knowledge by the slow but invaluable method of making dissections for himself. The key component of the success story of Gray's Anatomy were the observations noted during the course of these detailed human dissections as well as examination of surgical specimens with substantial focus on the study of normal anatomy and possible variations thereof. The monumental exercise that Gray undertook over a considerable period of time is evident across the pages of the text that served as the very basis of medical science for generations to come. / The phenomenal success of Gray's text can be attributed to a large extent to the excellence of its illustrations. The drawings used in the text were prepared by Henry Vandyke Carter (1831-1897). When Gray began work on his text, Carter was working as a demonstrator of anatomy at St. George's Hospital Medical school where Gray was his senior and serving as a lecturer. Both Carter and Gray had similar interest and soon became good friends. Gray relied to a great extent on Carter to assist him with the dissections also to prepare the large number of illustrations required for the text. Continuing with the 'lack of style' approach introduced by John and Charles Bell, Carter restrained himself from any attempt to place the figures in graceful poses or against unrealistic/whimsical backgrounds. The use of life size views of the human was consciously avoided and even a complete skeleton was not depicted anywhere in the text. Carter's illustrations were aimed at scientific description of the anatomical structures and the core value of these well-prepared wood engravings was the illustrative clarity which was remarkably atypical in relation to that period. In those days, illustrations in anatomy texts were typically proxy labelled, whereby the reader had to refer to the key which was usually provided in the footnote. The illustrations used in Gray's Anatomy contrastingly represented unified nomenclature and structures which enabled the reader to assimilate both simultaneously. Carter's work ensured that throughout the text the focus remain on the anatomical details and this was in accordance to Gray's dream to provide visual descriptions in anatomy that would be useful for aspiring surgeons and clinicians. The completed manuscript and illustrations for Gray's Anatomy were forwarded to the publishers John W Parker & Sons towards the end of 1857. When the book was eventually published a year later, Gray and Carter were not able to celebrate together as Carter had already left for India, where he was appointed as Professor of Anatomy & Physiology at Grant Medical College in Bombay. Within one year of its publication in England, Gray's Anatomy was made available in the United States and the resulting surge in popularity of the text reflected in the sales. Within a short timespan Gray's Anatomy emerged as the most sought-after textbook of anatomy across the English-speaking world. Encouraged by the success of his work, Gray began working on a second edition being assisted by his colleague Timothy Holmes who was also a surgeon. Unfortunately, Gray passed away at a very young age in 1861 due to small pox and could not oversee the completion of his work. This responsibility was ably tendered by Timothy Holmes, who prepared the subsequent seven editions of this masterpiece in anatomy." [Sanjib Kumar Ghosh; Ashutosh Kumar].

PROVENANCE: Charles Evelyn Hagner, M.D., of Washington D.C., gave a paper, "A Case of Hernia of Parturient Uterus through the Linea Alba." Read before the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, October 31, 1888. JAMA. " Dr. Charles H. Smith could not be identified.

REFERENCES: Garrison-Morton 418; Grolier, One Hundred Books Famous in Medicine, 68; Heirs of Hippocrates 1914; Norman 939. SEE: Sanjib Kumar Ghosh; Ashutosh Kumar, "The rich heritage of anatomical texts during Renaissance and thereafter: a lead up to Henry Gray's masterpiece," Anat Cell Biol. 2019 Dec; 52(4): pp. 357-368. First Edition.

There were only 2000 copies of the First Edition.This is an extremely low number of copies.Most copies of the First Edition have likely already been destroyed by use.This is an exceedingly and increasingly difficult book to obtain.There simply are no other copies available for sale.

Gray's Anatomy is one of the most important medical books ever printed.This landmark book is widely regarded as one of the most influential medical books, and it is still in use today.In 1858, Drs. Henry Gray and Henry Vandyke Carter created a book for their surgical colleagues that established an enduring standard among anatomical texts. It is still in print today, and it's value is certain to increase.


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Merchants Rare Books US (US)
Bookseller Inventory #
Gray, Henry
H. V. Carter
Leather, with matching custom leather clamshell case.
Book condition
Used - Very Good
Quantity available
First Edition
John W. Parker and Son
Place of Publication
Date published
Medical Surgery Anatomy Rare Medicine

Terms of Sale

Merchants Rare Books

30 day return guarantee, with full refund including original shipping costs for up to 30 days after delivery if an item arrives misdescribed or damaged.

About the Seller

Merchants Rare Books

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since: 2020
Moab, Utah
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About Merchants Rare Books

Merchants Rare Books, established in 2003, buys and sells rare and antiquarian books, with an emphasis on first editions and fine antiquarian sets from the 17th - 19th centuries.


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"Cloth-bound" generally refers to a hardcover book with cloth covering the outside of the book covers. The cloth is stretched...[more]
Calf or calf hide is a common form of leather binding.  Calf binding is naturally a light brown but there are ways to treat...[more]
Marbled boards
Morocco is a style of leather book binding that is usually made with goatskin, as it is durable and easy to dye. (see also...[more]
A book in fine condition exhibits no flaws. A fine condition book closely approaches As New condition, but may lack the...[more]
raised band(s)
Raised bands refer to the ridges that protrude slightly from the spine on leather bound books.  The bands are created...[more]
A new book is a book previously not circulated to a buyer. Although a new book is typically free of any faults or defects,...[more]
half title
The blank front page which appears just prior to the title page, and typically contains only the title of the book, although, at...[more]
title page
A page at the front of a book which may contain the title of the book, any subtitles, the authors, contributors, editors, the...[more]
The outer portion of a book which covers the actual binding. The spine usually faces outward when a book is placed on a shelf....[more]
First Edition
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The collective of the top, fore and bottom edges of the text block of the book, being that part of the edges of the pages of a...[more]
clamshell box
A protective box designed for storing and preserving a bound book or loose sheets. A clamshell box is hinged on one side, with...[more]
A book in which the pages have been bound into a covering replacing the original covering issued by the publisher.

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