ATLAS DER GERICHTLICHEN MEDICIN Erste Abtheilung Vergiftungen. Erste Lieferung Sechs colorirte tafeln mit erläuterndem text [-zweite lieferung]. Berlin, Verlag von August Hirschwald. NW Unter den Linden, No. 68. 1883. [together with]. ATLAS DER GERICHTLICHEN MEDICIN. Zweite Abtheilung [zweite lieferung ONLY], Breslau, Schlesische Buchdruckerei, Kunst-und Verlags-Anstalt vormals S. Schottlaender. 1892.
1883. Three vols (of four), two small and one large folio; pp. [ii] part title, [ii] preface, 155, , with stub remains of plates visible, which have been excised, then linen backed and loosely inserted into the larger folio for ease of use; all eighteen chromolithograph plates for Part I on poisonings present; pp. [ii] [iii]-vi index of all eighteen plates, -213,  blank, and containing the detailed descriptions of plates 10-18, and which are bound at the rear of the volume, thus only 9 of the 18 double-page chromolithograph plates present (a number retaining the original tissue guards) and missing the first part of this second part on general forensics; text volumes a little browned, the loosely inserted poisoning plates somewhat browned in places, and slightly dog-eared through handling (plate I most noticeably affected), the general forensic plates also a little browned and soiled; with small library stamps on title-pages; Rare first edition, though sadly without the first volume of part two, of this noted atlas of forensic medicine and medical jurisprudence by the noted forensic scientist Adolphe Lesser (1851-1926).
Whilst not wishing to downplay that fact that the present copy is incomplete, it nevertheless provides an insight into the publication of such works, and how copies where then put to use and indeed bound, by their respective owners. Lesser originally published this striking work in fascicles, beginning in 1883, and with the first part on poisoning completed in 1884. In the copy offered here, the Pathological Institute of Leipzig had included in the binding the first part title, noting only ‘sechs colorirte tafeln’, but have bound all of the text on poisonings into one volume. No further part titles have been included. As revealed by the stubs at the rear of the volume, the vivid double-page chromolithograph plates, for which the work is renowned, have been excised, and have all been linen-backed and housed within a larger folio portfolio, to allow for easier use by the students.
The second companion work was itself also divided into two sections, and published between 1890-1892, and was devoted to more general forensics and traumatic injuries. It too was illustrated with a further 18 fine chromolithographs depicting such injuries as skull and bone fractures, the impact of gunshot wounds, burns, injuries caused by stabbings', and cases of infanticide. Sadly the first section is not present in the set offered here, having somehow become separated, though. The Pathological institute have retained the plates in the text volume, reflecting possibly either a change in teaching policy, or perhaps that it was the section on poisoning which was considered to be of particular educational merit to warrant an larger and more portable dissemination.
Designed primarily for forensic physicians, the text provides detailed explanations of the double-page chromolithograph plates. Some twenty types of poisonings are described and illustrated. According to Paul Brouardel (1837-1906), who wrote the preface to the French edition of the poisoning section published in 1890, the importance of the book lay in the fact that Lesser was a professor and expert close to the courts of Breslau, and "has endeavoured to provide multiple reproductions of the same intoxication". Virchow, in his preface to this first edition, praises the work for its accuracy, saying that few works of anatomical and pathological illustration could rival the work.
Adolf Lesser (1851-), graduated from Berlin University in 1875. Between 1877 and 1884 he was assistant at the Berlin Pharmacological Institute, and worked at Klinnsmann’s lunatic asylum between 1879-1886. In 1881 he became privat-docent in pharmacology at the university. In 1886 he was appointed physician-in-chief to the board of health of Breslau, subsequently appointed assistant professor at Breslau University in 1887. In addition to the present notable work, Lesser contributed essays to numerous medical journals, and also contributed to Neisser’s ‘Stereoskopischer Medizinischer Atlas’.
All editions are uncommon. Rare: Goldschmid, 213 for the German edition; OCLC locates complete copies of this work at Berkeley, UCLA and the College of Physicians, Philadelphia, and at the Wellcome, Cambridge, BL, Oxford, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Condition: the two text volumes bound in plum morocco over marbled boards, spines lettered and tooled in gilt, head and tail of spines chipped and worn, joints and morocco corners quite scuffed and worn, extremities a little bumped, with small white paper accession labels at head of each upper cover, the larger folio in plum cloth backed marbled boards, with paper label lettered in manuscript on upper cover, and with small white paper accession label at head, without the cloth ties, head and tail of spine nicked and worn, corners bumped and worn; deaccessed and with a number of library stamps of the Pathological Institute, Leipzig.