Skip Navigation Bar
 

Turn the Pages of a Rare Veterinary Book from the NLM Collections

The National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health, announces the release of a new Turning the Pages virtual book on its Web site, via iPad App, and in kiosks onsite at the NLM.  The new project features selections from The Anatomy of an Horse, by Andrew Snape, farrier to King Charles II of England and a self-described member of a dynasty of royal farriers stretching back over two centuries.

Printed in London in 1683, The Anatomy of an Horse is one of the most comprehensive and beautifully illustrated books about horses published in seventeenth-century Britain. It contains numerous engravings of horses, mainly on the dissecting table, including the digestive system, heart, brain, musculature and the skeleton. Turning the Pages features a selection of these images curated by NLM staff.

Farriers were generally blacksmiths whose primary duty was making shoes for horses and applying them to the animals' feet, but they often took on other tasks in horse care as well, including treating illnesses such as the glanders (a common equine sinus infection), the botts (a parasite), or lameness. They also applied surgical remedies for horses such as purgatives and bloodletting.  Farriers were usually illiterate tradespeople who learned their craft through an apprenticeship and "practiced" in the military's cavalry, on a gentleman's estate, or in a village or town.  Until the prevalence of the automobile, horses were some of the most important animals to humans, providing transportation, battle power, and heft. Horses were often the most valuable possession of a middle class family, and were considered a powerful symbol of prestige among the wealthy, nobility, and gentry. 

Launched at the NLM in 2001, Turning the Pages is part of an ongoing collaboration between research engineers at the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications and curators and historians at the NLM's History of Medicine Division, to help make its rare and unique history of medicine materials widely available to the public.

The NLM holds one of the world's largest collections of early books relating to veterinary medicine dating before the year 1800. Individuals and groups with an interest in the history of veterinary medicine, or in the history of horse care, are warmly welcome to visit the NLM's History of Medicine Division of the Library to view or use these materials.

For more information, or to schedule a visit to NLM's History of Medicine Division, please call 301.402.8878.

 

Engraving of a horse by Nicholas Yeates (active 1669-1683) in Andrew Snape's The Anatomy of an Horse, printed in London in 1683.

http://archive.nlm.nih.gov/proj/ttp/snape-gallery-files/05-horse-light-large.jpg

Engraving of a horse by Nicholas Yeates (active 1669-1683) in Andrew Snape's The Anatomy of an Horse, printed in London in 1683.

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

Engraving showing two horses heads with brain exposed, from Andrew Snape's The Anatomy of an Horse, printed in London in 1683.

http://archive.nlm.nih.gov/proj/ttp/snape-gallery-files/13-horse-head-large.jpg

Engraving showing two horses heads with brain exposed, from Andrew Snape's The Anatomy of an Horse, printed in London in 1683.

Courtesy National Library of Medicine