Account of a new anaesthetic agent, substitute for sulphuric ether in surgery and midwifery

SIMPSON, James Young

Published by Samuel Highley, Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox; London, 1847
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Unbound as issued. Title and last 4 leaves detached with trace of thread remaining. Upper blank corner of last leaf torn away and occasional slight soiling. Presentation copy by Simpson to Dr. J.V.C. Smith, editor of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. Preserved in a morocco-backed slipcase. First edition, second issue, published two or three days after the first. In this pamphlet, Simpson (1811-70), professor of midwifery at the University of Edinburgh, described the advantages of chloroform over ether and cited several cases where it had been used successfully. He was the first to appreciate the value of chloroform as an anesthetic, having used it in an obstetrical case on November 8, 1847, when he administered it to a woman with a previous history of difficult labor; the baby was born without complications about twenty-five minutes after the first inhalation. Despite Simpson's success with chloroform, he encountered a great deal of opposition from conservative doctors and clergymen. The medical establishment did finally accept his efforts when Queen Victoria chose to take chloroform for the birth of Prince Leopold in 1853.The first printing of Simpson's pamphlet bears a postscript dated November 12, 1847. This second printing bears a postscript dated three days later and has an additional paragraph at the end. Simpson most likely received this copy directly following its printing, as it is postmarked November 19. For a complete discussion of the differences between the two printings, see Fulton and Stanton. Both printings are extremely rare.On the last blank page is Dr. Smith's address in the author's hand, with postmarks dated November 19th at Edinburgh and November 21st at Liverpool. Simpson apparently mailed the pamphlet to Smith without an envelope, addressing it on the blank verso of the last leaf. The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal first mentioned Simpson's discovery in its issue of December 29, 1847, and acknowledged receipt of Simpson's pamphlet in its issue of January 5, 1848. It was in this same periodical, in 1846, that Bigelow's announcement of the discovery of sulfuric ether as a surgical anaesthetic was made. FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT, SECOND EDITION (POSTMARKED A FEW DAYS LATER THAN THE FIRST. Bookseller Inventory # 3813

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Account of a new anaesthetic agent, ...

Publisher: Samuel Highley, Edinburgh: Sutherland and Knox; London

Publication Date: 1847

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