An original 1555 copy of Andreas Vesalius’ De humani corporis fabrica with extensive annotations has been added to the collection at the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

Vesalius (1514-1564) is considered the founding scholar of modern anatomy. Based in Brussels, his ground-breaking De humani corporis fabrica is seen as one of the most important books in the history of medicine, and one of the wonders of Renaissance publishing.

A dissector by profession, Vesalius was able to set out a new foundation for anatomical study based on first-hand observation. His book reads as a manual showing how to do a dissection as well as a detailed depiction on the human anatomy shown through woodcut illustrations.

The copy of De fabrica on deposit at the Fisher contains over a thousand interlinear and marginal annotations, in the form of additions, deletions and transpositions.

The arrival of the 1555 edition at the Fisher library is timely, as 2014 will mark the 500th anniversary of Vesalius’s birth. The Library will be celebrating the event with an exhibition in which the annotated copy of De fabrica will feature prominently.

With files from U of T News

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