"Discovery of a new anaesthetic agent, more efficient than sulphuric ether".; In: The London Medical Gazette. New Series. Vol. V. Sir James Young SIMPSON.

"Discovery of a new anaesthetic agent, more efficient than sulphuric ether".; In: The London Medical Gazette. New Series. Vol. V

London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1847. First edition. 8vo. Simpson's paper is on pp. 934-37. Entire volume: [1], 1172 pp. Contemporary half calf, marbled boards, black morocco lettering-piece. Light rubbing; light browning to text, generally very good / From the Collection of Allan B. Kirsner, M.D. Item #402192

"In an attempt to find an anesthetic less irritating than ether, Simpson discovered the advantages of chloroform. He had previously used ether with great benefit in midwifery, but now substituted chloroform, being the first to do so" (Garrison-Morton-Norman 5657). The paper appeared simultaneously in The Lancet (v. 2, 1847, p. 549).

First announcements of surgical operations under general anesthesia appeared in October 1846. Since that announcement, Simpson began to search for substances as good as or better than the American ethyl ether. While rifling through papers on his desk, he found a vial of a colorless liquid sent to him by the German apothecary, Justus von Leibig. It was chloroform, and Simpson and his associates, Keith and Duncan, successfully utilized it. Simpson immediately recommended its use to alleviate pains in childbirth. He presented the results of his experiments with chloroform to the Medico-Chirurgical Sociery in Edinburgh on 10 November 1847; they published his scarce first report. This is his second report on chloroform. On page 906 in the volume is the preliminary announcement: "Discovery of a substitute for ether vapour."

"Chloroform's considerable advantages over sulphuric ether, enumerated by Simpson in his paper, caused it to rapidly displace ether as a universal anesthetic. Its use in obstetrics was however denounced from various conservative quarters as immoral and hostile to the laws of religion, labor pains being considered God's punishment for Eve's sins, and Simpson was forced to embark "on a long publishing campaign to convert the opposition. His most famous non-scientific argument was that God Himself had been the first anesthetist when He 'caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam' before bringing forth Eve from his rib. Simpson's efforts were finally established by the medical establishment when Queen Victoria chose to take chloroform for the birth of Prince Leopold in 1853" (Norman 1945, of Simpson's first paper, Edinburgh, 1847). Atkinson & Boulton, eds, History of anaesthesia, pp. 233-235; Heirs of Hippocrates 1764 (for Simpson "Account of a new anaesthetic agent..., NY, 1848); Rutkow, pp. 336-337.

Price: $800.00

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