London: Published for the author by John Churchill, 1833. First Edition. Near Fine copy of this rare and important work educating midwives on the modern development and use of forceps. Contemporary green cloth binding with gilt label to cover. Spine and front cover slightly faded. Internally an exceptionally clean and complete copy, with all 12 lithographed plates present and all 25 overlays and flaps intact. A true rarity in women's medical history.
A surgeon specializing in obstetrics, Spratt broke new ground when he published this illustrated and interactive medical manual. Inspired by the work of William Smellie, whose Anatomical Tables had been published in a limited run of 100 copies in 1754, Spratt produced an informative text that met the needs of a new generation of surgical students in addition to serving as a quick reference for seasoned midwives. More affordable than other manuals on the market, Spratt's portable text kept a narrow focus on the key visual means of recognizing fetal positioning and on safe usage of forceps during delivery. "The object of the present work...is to supply the deficiency in this department of medical science, to present the student with a series of accurate and persicuous delineations which will at once convey to his mind a clear and comprehensive view of those important objects in obstetric practice so necessary to be impressed upon memory." With plates and interactive flaps and overlays, the book illustrates in detail the female pelvis and unimpregnated uterus from multiple angles; it also illustrates the growth of the fetus within the female body, and provides visual guidance for the use of forceps to delivery babies from a variety of positions.Though Spratt specifically addresses a male audience in the prefaratory text of his book, it was widely acknowledged that the majority of births were still being performed by female midwives in private homes. As university gates were closed to women, the published works of male surgeons like Spratt could make scientific knowledge more accessible to female midwives, supplementing their experience and traditions with modern advances (Kantoyannis). Near Fine (Item #2166)