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The Vesalius Census

The Vesalius Census provides a world-wide descriptive census of the first major illustrated atlas of anatomy. We are documenting every known surviving copy of the 1543 and 1555 Basel editions, the two editions Vesalius himself supervised.

The project has uncovered over seven hundred copies of these two editions around the world, and has documented bibliographic information, ownership records, and records of handwritten annotations about them. The Vesalius Census also offers a detailed historical analysis of how copies of the Fabrica have travelled across the globe, and how readers studied, annotated and critiqued the book from 1543 to 2017. We aim to shed a fresh light on the vibrant reception history of one of the most important books of anatomy, and we offer a novel interpretation how a moderately expensive textbook became one of the most coveted rare books for collectors in the 21st century.

People

  • Dániel Margócsy, University Lecturer, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
  • Mark Somos, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Experienced Researcher and Senior Research Affiliate, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
  • Stephen N. Joffe, Esteemed Quondam Professor of Surgery, University of Cincinnati

Publications

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, Stephen N. Joffe. The Fabrica of Andreas Vesalius: A Worldwide Descriptive Census, Ownership, and Annotations of the 1543 and 1555 Editions. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos and Stephen N. Joffe. 'Sex, Religion and a Towering Treatise on Anatomy'. Nature 560/7708 (13 August 2018), 304–305.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos and Stephen N. Joffe. 'How Eager Pre-20th-Century Readers Mined Anatomical Texts for Information about Sex'. Slate Vault, 2 April 2018.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, Stephen N. Joffe. 'A Pécsi Fabrica (=The Fabrica in Pécs)'. Per Aspera ad Astra (June 2018), 110–118.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, Stephen N. Joffe. 'Vesalius' Fabrica: A Report on the Worldwide Census of the 1543 and 1555 Editions'. Social History of Medicine 30/1 (2017), 201–223.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, Stephen N. Joffe. 'De Gheyn and Vesalius'. Print Quarterly 33 (2016), 293–295.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, Stephen N. Joffe. 'Petrus Paaw's Sources'. Print Quarterly 33 (2016), 295.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, Stephen N. Joffe. 'Vesalius' Fabrica: The Aims of the New Census'. HSS Newsletter 45/2 (2016), 1–3.

Dániel Margócsy, Mark Somos, Stephen N. Joffe. 'Networking with a Book, or How Vesalius Gave away his Complimentary Copies of the Fabrica'. Origins of Science as a Visual Pursuit. Published on October 27, 2015.

Grant funding

This project has been supported by the American Philosophical Society and a PSC-CUNY grant.