Traité sur le vénin de la vipère.

Autore: FONTANA, Felice (1730-1805)

Tipografo: Nyon & Emsly

Dati tipografici: Paris, 1781

Formato: in folio

Two volumes, small folio; contemporary paperboards; (2), XXVIII, (2 blank), 329, (1) pp. + XI, (1), 373, (1) pp. with X folding engraved plates. A nice large paper copy.
REVISED AND MUCH ENLARGED ENLARGED EDITION (the first was published in Italian in 1767).
“The quality of Fontana's scientific accomplishment is evident from his first work, on irritability and sensitivity, a subject that he continued to pursue so intensely as to earn the praise of Haller in 1767,... The research on the movement of the Iris (1765) and on viper venom (1767, 1781) is strictly tied to irritability...
After a series of impressive and ingenious experiments, Fontana retracted the action of the bite of the viper to an alteration in the irritability of the fibers which he maintained was mediated by the blood: in other words, the viper's poison directly alters the blood, coagulating it, and this in turn alters all parts of the organism - especially nerve fibers - that the blood would normally nourish. Fontana extended his toxicological experiments to other substances, especially to curare. Fontana also took advantage of microscopic investigations ...[and he] belongs, together with Spallanzani, among the major microscopists of the 18th century...” (D.S.B., V, pp. 55-57).
“The starting point of modern investigations of serpent venoms. This work also includes Fontana's description of the ciliary canal in the eye of an ox. ...The greatly expanded French translation, 2 vols. 1781, includes Fontana's work on the anatomy of the nerves and nerve regeneration” (G&M, 2103).
“Fontana's Treatise on the nerves is a little goldmine of ideas, for his time, on the frontier of this science.
Not only did he describe and illustrate the solid axis ‘cylinder'of the ‘primitive nerve fiber', but also the degeneration of nerve, as it loses its fucntion when separated from its center. Vol. 2 discusses American poisons” (Haymaker, p. 205).
“He was the first to use chemical fixatives to preserve retinal tissue for examination. He found neural and supporting elements in the retina and described retina vessels” (Gorin, 60).
“The Italian abbot, Fontana, was a distinguished naturalist and physiologist whose original and important researches on serpent venoms were published in Italian in 1767. In 1781 Fontana revised and enlarged his original treatise and added other essays, publishing the entire work in French. ... [It] includes his letter in which he gives an account of his investigation of the space at the angle of the iris known as Fontana's space or canal” (Heirs of Hippocrates, 628: English translation in 2 vols, after the French 1781 edition).
F. Fontana, a native of Pomarolo in Trentino, was educated by G. Tartarotti in Rovereto and later by Belgrado in Padua. After graduating he taught logics at Pavia University and afterwards became court physicist of Pietro Leopoldo, who charged him with the establishment of the Physics and Natural History Museum of Florence (cf. C. Adami, Di Felice e Gregorio Fontana, Rovereto, 1905, pp. VII-XIX).
Hirsch, II, 562; Weil cat. 26, 179 (“First French edition and first editions of the important additional tracts”); Ferchl, 159; Wellcome, III, 37: Cole, 1836; Sabin, 24988.


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