Philadelphia: James Humphreys, 1802.
First edition. Engraved frontispiece, printed in red and hand colored, by Tanner. 152, [2, blank], pp. Two folding tables. Ad in the rear. 8vo. A Foundational Work of American Medicine. Contemporary tree calf, minor wear to bottom of spine. Minor foxing Shaw & Shoemaker 2095; Austin 557; Garrison-Morton 5425; Sowerby 953. Item #352418
Raised by his grandfather, Dr. John Redman, Coxe received his education in England, including courses in anatomy and chemistry at London Hospital. Upon returning to Philadelphia in 1790, Coxe studied under Dr. Benjamin Rush and received a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1794. He began a medical practice in Philadelphia by 1796, becoming the resident physician at Bush Hill Hospital in 1797, Philadelphia port physician in 1798, and physician at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Philadelphia Dispensary from 1802 to 1807. Elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1799, he would later serve as its secretary. Between 1804 and 1811, Coxe edited the Philadelphia Medical Museum. He taught at the University of Pennsylvania, holding the chairs of chemistry (1809-18), and Material Medica and pharmacy (1818-35).
Coxe's studies under Rush during Philadelphia's 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic allowed him to see firsthand the devastation caused by infectious disease in an urban setting. Upon reading of Edward Jenner's findings, Coxe attempted to obtain samples of the infection for use in vaccination. Among those he acquired was one from Thomas Jefferson, who had received the vaccine matter from Dr. Waterhouse (who had received it from Jenner), and which he used to vaccinate himself and his family. Jefferson's important letter to Coxe accompanying the vaccine is printed on pages 120-122 of this work. Thanking Jefferson in April 1802, Coxe reveals the beginnings of the present work, writing:
"I feel that it necessary to apologise for thus encroaching on your valuable time; at the same time you will permit me to return you my most sincere thanks for your very polite attention in transmitting to me, through Mr. Jno. Vaughan, a portion of Vaccine Infection, which has enabled me to introduce this invaluable blessing in this City, & also to extend it very considerably through this & most of the Southern States. Having attended particularly, since I recd. the Infection in Novr. 1801. to the progress of the disease, & from various sources derived many facts which I feel anxious to communicate to the public, in hopes of its aiding the speedy extension of so grand a discovery; I presume to request your permission to allow me to introduce in my treatise, the valuable letter which accompanied this valuable present."
Coxe immediately began experimenting with Jefferson's vaccine and working on his Practical Observations. The two folding tables within the work list the patients he vaccinated, with details on their condition and response, and include the source of vaccination, including Jefferson. The Philadelphia community must have placed great trust in Coxe, as he inoculated the children of both Benjamin Rush and Titian Peale after first administering the vaccine to his own son (following Waterhouse's example of inoculating his own child first). His treatise summarizes Jenner's finding, records his own observations, and details the entire process. Coxe would send Jefferson the first copy of his work, fittingly dedicated to Jenner, in July 1802, writing:
"My time has been much occupied in the Dispensary since I put it to Press; I should perhaps have acted more prudently to have delayed it longer; but as I hoped it might prove beneficial to the extension of the disease, I considered it a duty to render the result of my experience public as early as possible. Through the kindness of several respectable practitioners, I have been enabled to add some valuable Communications; and I have most sincerely to thank you, for your kind permission to introduce your important observations; They must certainly tend to promote the speedy progress of Vaccination, wherever they are read. For this as well as for the Infection transmitted by You, I must ever be your Debtor."
The frontispiece plate, showing a comparative view of the various stages of the vaccine and smallpox, is a purely American production, printed in red ink and handcolored. As with most extant examples, some of the coloring on the frontispiece has oxidized, and the color printing has slightly faded.
The above letter to Jefferson continues, describing the frontispiece: "As to the Engraving which accompanies the Work, You will find a vast difference between it & the original of Dr. Jenners; Yet I hope its presence will be serviceable; Nor do I think it a bad specimen of American improvement, considering the novelty of the Subject. The Painting I find the most difficult to execute properly; Some are superior to others, as the Person improved as she advanced."
An important American medical text, with an early American color plate, and an exceedingly rare work in commerce.
Price: $5,000.00 Free International Delivery