Medicine: Continuity and Change
What follows is an online version of an exhibition which was on display in the Upper Library exhibition cases from Michaelmas 2011 until Spring 2012.
The exhibition was curated by Paul Ivanovic.
All images are copyright The Queen’s College and may not be reproduced without permission.
Introduction to the exhibition
The antiquarian medical collection at The Queen’s College was principally created in the eighteenth century through the generous benefactions of two physicians: Sir John Floyer (1649-1734) and Theophilus Metcalfe (1690-1757). Floyer’s library, of one-hundred and fifty books, could best be described as that of a working doctor. Metcalfe’s medical library, of over one thousand books, reflects his strong intellectual interests in science and medicine and his bibliophilic tendencies. Combined, these medical libraries give a wonderful insight into medical knowledge and practice over a period of two hundred years.
Sir John Floyer (1649-1734) matriculated at Queen’s College in 1664, obtained his BA in 1668, MA in 1671, BM in 1674 and DM in 1680. After leaving Oxford, Floyer returned to his home city of Lichfield where he practised medicine until his death at the age of eighty-five. He published a number of important medical texts during his life time including A treatise of the asthma (1698), which appears in this exhibition, An inquiry into the right use and abuses of the hot, cold and temperate baths in England, (1697), The physician’s pulse watch (1707), his pioneering work on the development of a pulse watch, and Medicina gerocomica (1724), the first book on geriatrics, all of which are in the Queen’s College collection.
Theophilus Metcalfe was not a member of Queen’s College, but of Hart Hall (later Hertford College) where he matriculated in 1706, obtained his BA in 1710, MA in 1713, BM in 1716 and DM in 1724. Little more biographical detail is known about his life. However, his memorial in the church of Ambrosden, Oxfordshire states he was a “learned, skilful and tender hearted physician”. The reason for his donation to Queen’s College is uncertain. However, it made the Queen’s College antiquarian medical collection one of the largest in the Oxford colleges. The collection includes two of Floyer’s publications, one of which is a second edition of A treatise of the asthma (1717).
The exhibition features two books from Metcalfe’s collection, A compleat body of chirurgical operations, by M de La Vauguion (1699), and the first book dedicated to the subject of plastic surgery, De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem libri duo, by Gaspare Tagliacozzi (1597).
How the other five works included in the exhibition came to be in the Queen’s College collection is unclear. The 1673 edition of William Harvey’s work on the circulation of the blood does bear the provenance name Arthur Fleetwood, although nothing more is known about him.