An exhibition of material from the Monash University Library




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15. Bird, Samuel Dougan, (1832-1904)

On Australasian climates and their influence in the prevention and arrest of pulmonary consumption / by S. Dougan Bird. (London, Longman, 1863)


Bird came to Australia in 1861, suffering from tuberculosis. Following his cure, and the apparent improvement seen in many other cases, he was an early advocate of the benefits of the Australian climate. Not everyone agreed with him. Dr William Thomson, according to a reviewer in the Australian Medical Journal, wanted to erect a sign on each of the Port Phillip heads with ‘Dangerous’ in large letters. Bird’s volume is open at a colour plate of “Mt. Abrupt, near Dunkeld, Western District”, by Eugene von Guerard. [Ford 310]


16. Clutterbuck, James Bennett.

An essay on the nature and treatment of Australian diseases : including, more especially, dysentery and fever / by James B. Clutterbuck. (Melbourne : Stillwell and Knight, 1868)

The book is a reprint of articles originally published in the Australian Medical Journal, in which he claims that local factors make the old, familiar diseases more virulent. These views were attacked by Dr James Robertson, and in this book Clutterbuck’s reply is reprinted on p. 43-60. [Ford 531]


17. Cole's atlas of anatomy and physiology of the human body. (Melbourne : E.W. Cole Book Arcade, [191-?])


A remarkably well-preserved pamphlet, probably from the second decade of the 20th century, which uses a mannikin of five folding coloured plates to illustrate human anatomy. E W Cole published many medical tracts – some were local printings of overseas authors, and some were overseas printings with an E W Cole title-page tipped in.


18. Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir, 1859-1930.

The wanderings of a spiritualist / by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (London : Hodder and Stoughton, [1921])


It is an astonishing fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, medical practitioner and creator of the ruthlessly scientific Sherlock Holmes, became a promoter of spiritualism. How could he have been duped into writing The Coming of the Fairies, with photographs of fairies dancing on flower petals, later revealed as a hoax? The wanderings of a spiritualist is a rare book, not discussed in his official biographies, which documents his Melbourne visit in 1920.


19. Florey, Howard Walter (1898 - 1968) and Cairns, Hugh William Bell (1896 - 1952).

Investigation of war wounds : penicillin : a preliminary report to the War Office and the Medical Research Council on investigations concerning the use of penicillin in war wounds. (London : War Office, 1943)


Sir Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic properties of the penicillium mould in 1929, but did not take it any further. Sir Howard Florey (a South Australian at Oxford University) and Sir Ernst Chain set about purifying the extract and in 1940, after many difficulties, penicillin was proved to be effective in a small number of patients. It became available for field trials in North Africa in 1942, conducted by (amongst others) Hugh Cairns (see item 52). Only a few copies of this report were printed, and it is an important part of the penicillin story. Fleming, Florey and Chain were awarded the Nobel Prize for this work in 1945. [The BIBAM copy]


20. Mole, Percy.

Crown, bar, and bridge work : with contour gold filling / by Percy Mole. (Bendigo : J.B. Young, 1893)


This “well illustrated little brochure,” to quote the review in the Australian Medical Journal (1894, p. 50) was known only by title, until I was lucky enough to be offered a copy in Salamanca Place, Hobart. What makes it special, apart from the rarity, is that the plates appear to use real Bendigo gold leaf to show the methods of repairing the effects of decay in teeth. [Ford 1398, Not Seen; the BIBAM copy]


21. Great Britain. Emigration Commission.

Instructions to surgeons-superintendent of Victorian Government emigrant ships. (London : Spottiswoode and Co., 1871)


A wonderful description of the duties of the ship’s surgeon, with emphasis on ventilation, diet and the provision of fresh water. His medical training would hardly have prepared him for some of his responsibilities. “The Surgeon-Superintendent should promote music, dancing and every harmless (my italics) means of combining exercise and amusement.” For bathing, the men had tubs in the fore part of the ship, and the women a bath room prepared for their use. The Surgeon-Superintendent was supposed to “take care to prevent indecency and practical jokes.” The text was written by George Verdon, the Agent-General for Victoria. [Not in Ford, but 2083 lists the same publisher and title, except that it is for South Australia, in 1873]


22. Webster, Victor H (1905-1980).

Bush medicine : a practical handbook for managing serious illnesses and accidents in the outback / by Victor H. Webster. (Tennant Creek, N.T. : [Jackhammer Press, 1948?])


After medical residency in Melbourne and psychiatric training in Perth, Webster went to Tennant Creek as Medical Officer. Companies which had industrial developments in the outback were required to undertake some community project to compensate the local inhabitants. Perhaps the best-known example is the feature-length documentary film The Back of Beyond, made by the Shell Film Unit in 1954. It is likely that Bush Medicine was such a project, underwritten by a mining company, who gave their printing department an appropriate name – the jackhammer being a mining tool. It is illustrated by Basil Schmidt, who was also from Tennant Creek. The book covers wounds, haemorrhage, coma from diabetes, fractures, urinary retention and burns, and important illnesses in adults and children, including aboriginal health issues. The aim is for the lay person to be able to deal with the problem, and to give a good account of the illness, over the phone or radio, if they are fortunate enough to have medical help available to them.


This copy of the book was bought at auction in 1985. It belonged to Dr G. F. S. Davies, whose path crossed with Webster’s in 1925-28, when he was the Stewart Lecturer in Pathology at the University of Melbourne. [BIBAM]


23. The grown-up Glaxo babies. [Sydney? : Glaxo, ca. 1900]


There are many ephemeral publications on infant feeding, from drug companies, from State Governments, from interest groups such as the Nursing Mothers Association or the Truby King movement, and from individuals. How to chose one’s favourite? This pamphlet has 8 tipped-in photographic plates, to illustrate the progress of Glaxo-reared babies. It gives addresses for agents in the Australian capital cities.


24. Kaye, Geoffrey, with Robert H Orton and Douglas G Renton.

Anaesthetic methods.


The seminal work on Australian anaesthesia, and a reminder of the developments in anaesthesia, surgery and resuscitation that took place during the Second World War. The book is open at p. 574, the illustration of the Julian Smith rotary pump, a now-ubiquitous Australian invention. Geoffrey Kaye (1903-1986) designed and built much of his own equipment, and collected widely. His Anaesthetic Museum is housed in the Royal Australian College of Anaesthetists building in St Kilda Rd. This copy of the book belonged to my father, Dr Lennard Travers (1905-1968), who was a surgeon before the War, and an anaesthetist after it.


25. Making paper by hand (Melbourne : Plant Craft Cottage)


This book is hand-made, in concertina form. One side consists of photographs showing the steps involved in making paper at home, and the other has samples of paper made with different sources of fibre. It was given to me by the woman who made it, J Walsh, at a talk I gave on The Diseases of Books to the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria.


Surgical Atlases and Plate Books


26. Addison, Thomas, 1793-1860.

On the constitutional and local effects of disease of the supra-renal capsules / by Thomas Addison, M.D., 1855. ([London] : Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1968)


This sumptuously-illustrated monograph is unusual because it describes two conditions – adrenal insufficiency (then most often caused by tuberculosis) and pernicious anaemia (now known to be caused by lack of vitamin B12). The edition featured here is a facsimile reprint of the 1855 edition; for my purposes, a well-produced facsimile is perfectly acceptable, when the original is unobtainable, or too expensive. [GM 3864]


27. Thompson, J. Ashburton (John Ashburton), 1846-1915.

A report to the President of the Board of Health : containing photographs of a person suffering from variola discreta, and account of the case; to which is added a clinical report and diagnosis of the five cases with which the outbreak of small-pox of 1884-5 began / by J. Ashburton Thompson. (Sydney : Thomas Richards, Govt. Printer, 1886)


This was prepared for the instruction of doctors, since “it was impossible to give these gentlemen an opportunity of examining the patients for themselves, since the patients were isolated in the Quarantine hospital-ship.” Photographs are given of the rash as it appeared on day 3 to day 25, in a 7 year-old girl, whose mother had just died from smallpox. [Ford 2196]


28. Hunter, William, 1718-1783.

The anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures / by William Hunter. (London : Sydenham Society, 1851)


Hunter had trained as Dr Smellie’s assistant, and once he achieved professional and financial success he prepared this wonderful atlas, “anatomically exact and artistically perfect,” according to Ludwig Choulant (1791-1861). Except for J Dalby’s little book on rabies, Virtues of cinnabar and musk against the bite of a mad dog, the first edition (1774) was the only medical work to be published by John Baskerville in Birmingham. The plates are engraved from drawings by Jan van Rymsdyk, who had done the drawings for Smellie’s atlas 20 years earlier (see Wall Case 3). An interesting feature is that the reprint used caoutchouc binding, patented in 1836 by William Hancock, a pioneer in the use of rubber. As with many adhesives used for unsewn binding, this has lost its grip with time, and the book now consists of loose sheets. [GM 6157]


29. Pearn, John Hemsley, AO.

A doctor in the garden : nomen medici in botanicis : Australian flora and the world of medicine / John Hemsley Pearn. (Herston, Qld. : Amphion Press, 2001)


This work is the magnum opus of a man to whom Australian medical historians owe much. In addition to being Professor of Paediatrics at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, he is Surgeon-General to the Australian Defence Force and National Director of Training for St John Ambulance, Australia. He outside interests include local history, medical philately, medical botany and, of course, the not-for-profit Amphion Press, which he founded in 1982.


30. Berry, R. J. A. (Richard James Arthur), 1867-1962.

A cerebral atlas : illustrating the difference between the brains of mentally defective and normal individuals with a social, mental, and neurological record of 120 defectives during life / by Richard J.A. Berry. (London : Oxford University Press, 1938)


Richard Berry came from Edinburgh to be Professor of Anatomy at the University of Melbourne from 1906 to 1925, then Dean of the Faculty 1924-29. He became very interested in the skulls (and, by implication, the underlying brain) of various groups, including those of people from other races (such as the Australian aboriginal), people with mental deficiency, and criminals. In 1929 Berry accepted the position of director of medical services at the Stoke Park Colony at Stapleton, Bristol, England, and chairman of the Burden Mental Research Trust, with this book being the result of his researches.


31. Baillie, Matthew, 1761-1823.

A series of engravings, accompanied with explanations, which are intended to illustrate The morbid anatomy of some of the most important parts of the human body / by Matthew Baillie. (Carlton, Vic. : Melbourne University Press : 1985)


Baillie was a nephew of William and John Hunter, and this is the first systematic atlas of pathology. The plates were prepared by William Clift, and this edition has been reproduced from Clift’s own copy, now in the University of Melbourne. The 48 engravings have been replaced by the original drawings. Twenty-four of the remaining illustrations are reproduced from the original drawings held by the Royal College of Physicians, London. This edition is edited by Harold Attwood (1928-2005), a Scot who made his career in Melbourne as a distinguished pathologist and medical historian. [GM 2282]


Wall Cases 1 and 2


John and William Hunter


32. Hunter, John, 1728-1793.


Engraving of a portrait of John Hunter by Joshua Reynolds. It belonged to the Melbourne surgeon F D Bird, and was given to me by Margaret Colquhoun (see item 14).


Following his older brother William, John Hunter went from Glasgow to London, and there transformed the practice of surgery; he is said to have found surgery a mechanical art and left it an experimental science.


Also on display are portraits of William and John Hunter from Two great Scotsmen : the brothers William and John Hunter / by George R. Mather. (Glasgow : James Maclehose, 1893)


Their story was first told to me by Professor Graeme Schofield, in an introductory lecture to the anatomy course in the second year of the medical course in 1966, and was an important stimulus to my reading about the history of medicine.


33. Hunter, John, 1728-1793.

A treatise on the blood, inflammation, and gun-shot wounds / by the late John Hunter. (London : Printed for E. Cox [et al.], 1812)


This, and item 36, were bought in Dawson’s, a very superior antiquarian bookshop in Pall Mall. My chief memory of the shop is that here my wife and I met Lester Cahn, the venerable New York oral pathologist. While Lester and I examined the books in the safe, Mrs Cahn leaned on her cane, and told Caroline that she thought she had waited outside every bookshop in Europe!


34. Holmes, Timothy, 1825-1907.

Introductory address delivered at St. George's Hospital, October 2, 1893, on the centenary of John Hunter's death / by T. Holmes. (London : Adlard, 1893)


A nice centenary tribute by the man who took over as the editor of Gray’s Anatomy on the premature death of Gray – both had been at St. George’s Hospital, as had John Hunter.


35. Hunter, John, 1728-1793.

The works of John Hunter, F.R.S. : with notes / edited by James F. Palmer. (London : Published by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman ..., 1835-1837)

4 v. plus atlas


This volume is water-stained, but it was the only copy I could find in those pre-Google days. It was important for me to own the slightest of links between Australia and the Great Man. This is one of them. The editor, James Palmer (1803-1871), was house surgeon at St George’s Hospital, and came to Melbourne having failed to secure a hospital appointment. He had a number of business ventures here, and became mayor of Melbourne in 1845-46. Although he did not practice medicine here, he was a staunch supporter of the need for a public hospital in Melbourne and, in 1846, had the honour of laying the foundation stone. [GM 78]


Hunter’s atlas is open at plate 52: the “Siren of Linnaeus or mud iguana from S. Carolina.”

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