Treatises on syphilis (1706) and scurvy (1705) bound with a 38-page manuscript

Yvo Gaukes. Genees en heelkonstige redevoeringe van de Spaanse pokken [...] Tweede druk. Amsterdam, Timotheus ten Hoorn, 1706.

[Bound after:]

Yvo Gaukes. Genees en heelkonstige redenvoering van de scheurbot. Waar in de schrijver van vooren betoogt, en van agteren bevestigt, dat deze ziekte niet uit een zuur, taai, en dik bloed; maar uit een te vlug alkaalis, en te dun bloed voortkoomt. Utrecht, Willem van de Water, 1705.


2 works in 1 volume. 8vo. 96; 175, [1] pp. Contemporary calf, gold-tooled spine, red sprinkled edges. First flyleaf with two 18th-century owner's entries: "Io: Lucij meest[e]r Chirurg" and "Marcellus Metius Chirurgijn tot [?] 1768", and some annotations in pencil. Bound at the end is a 38-page manuscript, apparently by one of the previous 18th-century owners. In good condition, with the corners bumped and top of spine damaged, paper browned.


Third copy located of a treatise on syphilis ("Spanish pox") by Emden physician Yvo Gaukes, published in Amsterdam by famous underground bookseller Timotheus ten Hoorn. Bound with a rare treatise on scurvy by the same author and a 38-page manuscript (in Dutch and Latin) listing recipes for various ailments.


For centuries syphilis was one of the most feared and destructive diseases that raged in Europe until the discovery of penicillin in 1928. The most gruesome effects of the disease were often experienced decades after infection, when the disease had progressed to so-called neurosyphilis, leading to various horrid complications, including brain damage. The main treatments for syphilis were guaiacum and mercury(!) skin inunctions. Gaukes, surprisingly, prescribes a beverage(!) rather than an injunction.


He divides his treatise into 345 numbered paragraphs. The first 194 are devoted to pathology, the rest describe cures. Gaukes advises beverages consisting of a mixture of mercury and a few other ingredients, including guaiacum and Spanish fly, adding brandy as a sweetener. He claims that with his method he was able to cure patients within three to four weeks, although he admits that overdosing could lead to death. Apart from syphilis Gaukes also treats several other venereal diseases, including paraphimosis and chancres.


The first edition appeared in 1703 and apparently only survives in one single copy. This 1706 edition is a reissue of the first edition, with a new title-page.


Gaukes treatise on scurvy ("scheurbot") opens with several case studies, followed by a discussion and pathology. For centuries scurvy had been an important limiting factor in long-distance voyages, often killing a huge number of crew. This obviously resulted in significant losses for the VOC and WIC, as Gaukes writes in his foreword.


His treatise was explicitly written to remedy this problem. Gaukes prescribes a beverage consisting of scurvy-grass (also known as spoonwort, a Cochlearia species), rumex, tamarind, and "melizoenwortel" (rhubarb). Although Gaukes failed to recognize the cause of scurvy (a lack of vitamin C), the leaves of spoonwort are rich in vitamin C and the plant was highly valued by sailors as an antiscorbutic herb.


The 38-page manuscript, finally, gives recipes to cure a number of ailments, including asthma, epilepsia, gout, "hysteria", and hemorrhoids.


Ad 1: STCN lists one copy, HPB Database ads a second; ad 2: STCN lists two copies, HPB Database adds a third.

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