VEREICHNIß DER PRÄPARATEN WELCHE AUF DEM ANATOMISCHEN THEATER DER AKADEMIE…

VEREICHNIß DER PRÄPARATEN WELCHE AUF DEM ANATOMISCHEN THEATER DER AKADEMIE ZU GREIFSWALD by WESTPHAL, Andreas. < >
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First catalogue of the ‘theatrum anatomicum’ at Greifswald

VEREICHNIß DER PRÄPARATEN WELCHE AUF DEM ANATOMISCHEN THEATER DER AKADEMIE ZU GREIFSWALD befindlich sich nebst einer vorrede von dem einfluß der zergliederungskunst in die glückseligkeit eines staats. Stralsund geduckt bey Hieronymus Johann Struck.

[1760.]. Small 4to, pp. [vi], 38; with woodcut initials and head- and tail-pieces; lightly browned and foxed throughout, with some faint dampstaining at upper gutter, some small discrete paper repairs at upper gutter of prelims, at pp. 36-37, and to outer margins of final two leaves; bound in later 19th century blue paper boards, though retaining original decorative paper backstrip bound in, some light rubbing and wear to spine, with slight loss of paper at head and tail; a good copy. The uncommon first printed catalogue of the anatomical collection of the University of Greifswald, founded in 1750 in conjunction with the establishment of the Anatomical Theatre and Institute, under the Directorship of the professor of anatomy, Andreas Westphal (1720-1788). Westphal had been inspired to create a ‘theatrum anatomicum’, having experienced at first hand the educational benefits of having access to an anatomical collection, during his time in Berlin studying under August Budde (1695-1753), Director of the Berlin ‘theatrum anatomicum’ and professor of anatomy and physiology. Not only inspirational, Westphal’s connections with Berlin were to prove pivotal to the foundation of the Greifswald collection, through the early acquisition of the personal collection of August Schaarschmidt (1720-1791). Schaarschmidt, a dissector of anatomy at Berlin, was himself curator of the main collection there, and author of its own first printed catalogue, ‘Verzeichniss der Merkwürdigkeiten, welche bei dem Anatomischen Theater zu Berlin befindlich sind’ in 1750. Our understanding is that this acquisition of the Schaarschmidt collection occurred around 1750, although the purchase may have taken place when Schaarschmidt left Berlin in 1760, to accept a position at the newly founded University of Bützow. Westphal seems to have born much of the cost of this purchase himself, but it formed the basis of what was to become a signification collection which was expanded by Westphal and his successors, to include a notable comparative anatomy collection of skeletons and skulls.
This, the first such catalogue of the collection, lists 175 specimens, many of which had been prepared by Westphal and his students, before then examining a number of them in greater detail. Whilst a testament to his work and dedication so far, in his dedication to the Swedish politician, Jakob Albrecht von Lantingshausen (1699-1769, and at the time commander-in-chief of Pomerania, of which Greifswald was the centre), Westphal takes the opportunity to express his desire that the anatomical cabinets be ‘fortified and expanded’, with the aim of ultimately promoting the importance of the art of dissection. During his time at Greifswald, Westphal made various appeals to the University authorities to create separate schools of surgery and midwifery, although these were ultimately rejected. Certainly his low opinion on the general level of skill of rural midwives is evident within the present preface, Westphal criticising the upper classes for entrusting their care to women who though calling themselves midwives, were frequently of poor intelligence, or at best only ‘tolerably stupid’, with no practical experience other than having been pregnant themselves, or possibly having read Justine Siegemundin’s work, and recommends that their knowledge should be assessed before letting them loose.

Bibliography: Erman & Horn, Bibliography of German Universities II, no. 6421; not in Murray, Museums; see Wegner, Richard N. ‘Die Geschichte des Anatomischen Instituts und Museums der Universität Greifswald aus der Festschrift zur 500- Jahrfeier der Universität Greifswald (Wiss. Z. Ernst- Moritz- Arndt- Univ., Math.- Naturw. R. 2 (1956) 282- 297).

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