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The book we worked with was called “the way to Health” by Tryon. It was a very small book, about pocket size. Its rough dimensions were roughly 20 x 12 x 4 cm and weighted about 3.5 lbs. The library guy said it was an octavo, a total of 520 pages so that should mean 65 leaves folded 8 times. The book was most probably in its original leather binding along with the reconstruction of the backbone of the book. It had that undistinguishable old book smell.

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Published in 1792, the 12th edition of William Cheselden’s The Anatomy of the Human Body is unlike any book of anatomy you’ve ever seen. Its size is comparable to a novel you may find on your bookshelf; the 300+ page textbook is approximately 15cm wide by 25cm long and weighs about half a kilogram. It includes detailed drawings (carved from copper plates) of human body parts from the skeletal system to the muscles and even inner organs. Each drawing is carefully labeled and gives the name and a description of the body part.

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Empirical Observations   In a recent trip to the Osler Library, the opportunity to work with a rare medical book from 1684 was presented.

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                                 Mercurius Compitalitius: or, a Guide to the Practical Physician is a roughly 5lbs (2.3kg) guide that was written in English. It was published in 1684, with rough dimensions of 8x13 inches. The main contents of this book or “guide” focuses on medicine and how to treat various diseases or disorders. The book had the aroma of herbal medicines, while at the same time a smoke-like smell. The cover of the book was brown, plain and seems to be made up of wood.

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