Detail map of London, England, United Kingdom,Cleveland, Ohio, United States

A: London, England, United Kingdom, B: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

A Portion of the 15th Century Medical Library of Nicolaus Pol for Sale in 1929

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P. W. Harvey, previously anonymous donor of the Nicolaus Pol collection to the Cleveland Medical Library.

In 1929 London antiquarian booksellers Maggs Bros. issued Catalogue of Medical Works from the Library of Dr. Nicholaus Pol, Born c.1470; Court Physician to the Emperor Maximilian I. Maggs further characterized the 34 items offered in the catalogue as "A remarkable collection of 'Editiones principes' and other early editions of Medical Authors, Classical, Arabian, and medieval from famous early presses of France and Italy in the original Gothic Bindings executed for Dr. Pol".

The asking price for the collection—£2500, even when the pound equalled nearly $5— seems exceptionally reasonable today, considering the optimal significance and quality of the books involved.

The catalogue was bought in its entirely by the Cleveland Medical Library and it is preserved in the Howard Dittrick Medical History Center at Case Western Reserve University. Through a clerical error, Dr. Harvey Cushing did not receive a copy of the catalogue, but his nephew Dr. Edward H. Cushing of Cleveland did. He promptly persuaded President Vinson of Western Reserve University to cable for the collection and hold it until the Cleveland Medical Library Association could raise the money. This was soon supplied by an anonymous donor, and the collection came to rest in the Cleveland Medical Library as a memorial to Mr. Charles H. Bingham. 

In 2017 James M. Edmonson and Catherine Osborn identified the anonymous donor of the Nicolaus Pol collection as Perry W. Harvey and Kate Hanna Harvey: "Perry was cousin, college roommate and best man to Dr. Harvey Cushing and, before his marriage to Kate, lived with his cousin Dr. Edward Harvey Cushing, who secured the donation for the CMLA and held the title “Curator of Incunabula.” Perry was a longtime friend of Bingham, who had died four months before the Pol Collection was purchased. Both men avidly collected rare books (Perry Harvey favored John Baskerville editions) and were active in Cleveland’s Rowfant Club, making the donation of this unique collection a fitting tribute. When Perry Harvey died in 1932, he was memorialized at the CMLA’s annual meeting because of his contributions to “many of [the library’s] treasures, items which [the library] would have been unable to purchase from [its] funds” and that “it was in keeping with his charming modesty that he permitted no public acknowledgement” (CMLA Minutes, Vol. 6, Jan. 20, 1933, p. 427). See Harvey Williams Cushing, “Books and the Man,” in A Brief Biography of Perry Williams Harvey. Cleveland: the Printing Press of Horace Carr, 1936."

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