Memorial de L'Art de accouchments


Paris: Hospice de la Maternité. 1812.

First edition. Signed by the author. 8vo. 200x120mm. pp. [14], 666. With 129 plates containing 133 woodcut illustrations. Engraved frontispiece of the Paris Hospice de la Maternité. With the ownership inscription of Armand Faure. Handsomely bound in contemporary red morocco, gilt roll borders to boards, flat spine, decorated in gilt with title in gilt. Gilt decorated turn-ins, blue endpapers, all edges gilt. Some rubbing to extemities, and a small closed tear to head of spine. Some foxing and light browning but overall a very good, smartly bound copy of an important book by a ground-breaking female scientist and inventor.
As a young woman, Marie Gillain studied anatomy and midwifery. Any career plans were thwarted by her marriage to a civil servant Louis Boivin. His early death left Marie with a daughter and short of money so she returned to Paris to continue her training, serving as the assistant to Marie-Louise Lachappelle, the doyenne of French midwives. Boivin qualified as a midwife in 1800 and then worked in a series of hospitals, wrote extensively on child birth and invented a pelviemeter and a vaginal speculum. She was also one of the first female gynaecological surgeons. Cutter and Viets, in "A Short History of Midwifery", write of Mémorial de L'Art de accouchments: "this book, strictly for midwives, was by far the most complete manual published up to this time...[Mme Boivin] was to go much further into the subject and become both an obstetrician and a gynaecologist in the modern sense".

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