On exhibit at the Grolier Club of New York from September 20 through November 23, 1994 were over 100 books, manuscripts, and images chronicling the evolution of medical knowledge, from the classical period to the invention of the CAT scan in 1973. Included were original editions of works by Andreas Vesalius, William Harvey, Edward Jenner and Alexander Fleming, among many others. 100 Book Famous in Medicine, arranged chronologically, traced the dissemination of formative medical discoveries from the ancient world to the present, from the writings of Hippocrates to those of James Watson and Francis Crick.
The character of the works on display reveals the attention given to the form of publication before about 1800--clearly much care was taken with the design, illustration, and binding of the books. On the other hand, the exhibition dramatically shows how the look of medical texts after that date was conditioned more by the speed of publication than by aesthetic concerns.
100 Books Famous in Medicine continues a long series of milestone exhibitions, organized around a limited number of consequential publications, shown at the Grolier Club over the last century. Among the most significant of these have been 100 Books Famous in English Literature (1902), 100 Influential American Books (1947) and 100 Books Famous in Science (1958). But this exhibition does more, for its organizers have brought together notable and, in many cases, unique copies of the individual publications selected for presentation. Included are dedication copies, those distinctively bound by eminent bookbinders, those printed on special paper, those with uncommon illustrations, and those carrying the provenance of well-known physicians, scientists or bibliophiles.
The books have been lent by over thirty institutional libraries and from the personal collections of several distinguished physicians, who have played an active part in the development of this exhibition. A deluxe catalogue with more than 250 illustrations, many in color, written by leading experts in the history of medicine, acompanies the exhibition. The catalogue has been edited by Hope Mayo under the direction of Haskell F. Norman, MD, the curator of the exhibition.