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Original price £750.00 - Original price £750.00
Original price
£750.00 - £750.00
Current price £750.00

[Medical manuscript] comprising unattributed extracts from Allen, John [Devaux, Jean (trans)]: Abregé de toute la medecine pratique où les sentimens des plus habiles Médecins sur la nature des Maladies, de leurs causes, & des Remedes qui leurs conviennent… Paris, Guillaume Cavelier, 1728 [or deriving from another edition of the same work]. France, 18th century.

This abridged manuscript copy of a French medical textbook, perhaps copied out in 1776, survives in attractive covers made from reused manuscript material.

The excerpts, which do not appear to be attributed at any point, derive from a French translation of a medical compendium originally written in Latin by John Allen (1660?–1741), a physician who also had an interest in astronomy and mechanical engineering. Allen’s popular textbook on diseases, Synopsis universæ Medicinæ practicæ, was first printed in Latin in London, 1719 and was later translated into English and French. The French translation, entitled Abregé de toute la médecine pratique, was the work of Parisian surgeon Jean Devaux (1649-1729). He is perhaps a relative of Jean-Baptiste Devaux (d. 1799), a writer, bookseller, and journalist (cf. his entry on

The Abregé first appeared in 1728, with subsequent editions in 1737, 1741, and 1752. Our copy includes an excerpt on Plica polonica, a hair formation conceptualized by eighteenth-century western European commentators as a contagious ailment prevalent in eastern Europe (Wolff 1994, p. 30; see also Jutte 2020, p. 178 for a discussion of anti-Semitic implications). Our excerpt begins by emphasizing that Plica is endemic to Poland. 

We also find excerpts on skin conditions, leprosy, and syphilis, with reference to authorities such as Michael Ettmüller (1644-1683), Daniel Turner (1667-1740/1), and Thomas Sydenham (1624–89). The section on syphilis notes that patients who have interacted with 'femmes debauches' (i.e. prostitutes) tend to be the most severely afflicted.

The excerpted material mostly derives from chapters 9 to 12 of Abregé. The content was almost certainly copied out before the covers were added, as the stitching would have made it difficult to write as close to the gutter as achieved here.  


Manuscript on paper, one volume, 180 x 160 mms (in binding), pp. 1-10, 12-48, 48[bis]-98, 101-188 (all but 7 pages with writing). No apparent text loss despite the jump in pagination. Unruled, written in a single hand throughout, with c.17 lines to the page. Includes table of contents, running titles, and ink embellishments at section divisions.

Bound inside two vellum bifolia reused from a French legal(?) manuscript, stitched through textblock at spine. A terminus a quo of 1672 is suggested by the year referenced in the text (at upper cover). The two vellum folios at rear are adhered to each other to form a limp cover; the two folios at front were probably similarly adhered, but are now separate folios (mostly still legible). Original paper pastedowns at front and rear. The fragmentary manuscript in the binding is unruled, written in a single hand, with c.16 extant lines per side. 

Condition (textblock): Browning and water staining to paper, edges curling, occasional small tears to blank outer margins, worming at end of textblock (affecting at most c.6 letters per page). Condition (binding): Some staining and mould to vellum, worming, loss to pastedowns, small loss to blank area of vellum on lower cover (with corresponding loss to small blank section at end of textblock).


Payne, J. F., rev. by Anita McConnell, ‘Allen, John (1660?-1741), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online version dated 2021.

Jütte, Robert, The Jewish Body, trans. Elizabeth Bredeck (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020).  

Wolff, Larry, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1994).