22nd Nov, 2023 10:00

Photographs, Autographs & Historic Documents | Royalty, Film & Sports Memorabilia

  Lot 345 *

Jenner (Edward, 1749-1823). A series of 14 Autograph Letters Signed, 'Edw. Jenner'

Sold for £11,500


Jenner (Edward, 1749-1823). English surgeon and pioneer of smallpox vaccination. A series of 14 Autograph Letters Signed, ‘Edw. Jenner’, three as ‘E. Jenner’ and one as ‘E.J.’, Cheltenham & Berkeley, Gloucestershire, 18 April 1811 to 1 November 1822 & 3 undated, addressed to Edward Davies [his nephew], variously at Eastington, Ryeford, Stanley House and Ebley House, all near Stroud, and one sent to Edward in London, and one undated letter to his sister [Ann], the subjects largely concerning family matters, arrangements for meetings, the poor health of Edward’s mother [Jenner’s sister Ann] and that of his own wife Catherine, with some recommendations for treatments and diet, discussions of his own work and how challenging he finds it, with one direct reference to vaccination (24 October 1811), plus other references to his work and its reception in the wider world, all written on entire letters with integral address panels, many written on all four sides including folds adjacent to address panel, some age wear with many small fold splits and seal tears (one with loss to subscription but not affecting signatures), a total of 43pp., 4to, together with related correspondence and ephemera comprising:
Three Autograph Letters Signed from Jenner’s wife Catherine to Edward and Mrs Davies, one dated from New Bond Street, [London], 23 January 1801, two with signatures torn with loss and one with cover worn with loss; Autograph poem by Ann Davies, signed and dated 23 December 1789 (separated along two folds), autograph letter from Ann to her son Edward (torn with loss), a short autograph account of a friend’s illness dated 26 January 1802; two autograph items from ‘W.D’ [William Davies], one a letter to his aunt (torn on folds) and one a copy of a memorandum; an undated letter to Mrs Davies from ‘M. Berkeley’ at Berkeley Castle; plus 2 printed items, a printed list of subscribers for a statue of Edward Jenner in Gloucester Cathedral, and a pamphlet titled Health Heroes: Edward Jenner, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 1926

(Quantity: approx. 20)

Provenance: By family descent from the family of Edward Davies.

An important unpublished archive of letters from Edward Jenner giving a good deal of insight into his family life and work matters. Jenner was one of nine children, six surviving into adulthood. Of these three sisters and two brothers, only Mary (1730-1810) and Ann (1740-1812) survived into the 19th century. By the time the first of these letters was written by Jenner to his nephew Edward, (also a doctor), only Ann was still living. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Jenner shows a great deal of concern for his sister’s health and diet while taking a keen interest in the health of Edward and his family too. Extracts from the letters are given below, further images available on request.

Cheltenham, Thursday night, 18 April 1811: ‘… how much I lament the sad account you give me of your poor father's health, and to request in case the haemorrhage returns again, that Mr Darke will inspect the part. By so doing, he will probably discover the bleeding vessel, and by means of a ligature, prevent the further effusion of blood ... ‘.

‘You must avoid everything that tends to weaken and employ every means of strengthening your constitution – the sea and its breezes will do great things for you, and I hope take off the susceptibility for cold, which Mrs Davies's nieces are so much acquainted with. As for myself, it is not from the cause you suspect that my tremors have arisen. The long continued, and at times, highly alarming state of Mrs Jenner's health, succeeded by so much attendance on her poor brother, whose disease I felt confident would prove (as it has done fatal), has been as great a load as I could well carry, to say nothing of other professional weights. I am now getting up to my usual pitch of health again. We have had a curious domestic occurrence. Hystericks are as contagious as the plague among young females. Several fell sick – we were obliged to import fresh ones to wait on them. Our new importation became infected and others were necessary to wait on them; so that we got three deep at last. I shall be glad to see William and Mr Lewis on the day you mention …’.

Cheltenham, Wednesday night, 23 October 1811: ‘I want much to see you and converse with you about the state of your health and many other things. On Saturday next I propose being at the inn at Painswick at 12 o'clock to meet Mr Darke ... I wish it were in my power to go on to Eastington and stay the night. What a pleasure it would afford me, as I want a long conversation with my friends there … Indeed, I ought to tear myself away from this place, where I am quite overwhelm'd with the incessant variety of my occupations. My lot is harder than that of the medical world in general, as the toils of vaccination are superadded to my ordinary labors. However, things go on smoothly now. Some reports I have lately had from abroad cheer me much and the long expected tangible compliment from Madras is at length arrived. This I had given up for lost. Mrs Jenner is better than I have known her for a long time past. This again is cheering; and as for myself, I have nothing to complain of on the sense of health – so I will grumble as little as possible. The worst of it is my commonly having fifty letters before me unanswered, and no aid from a secretary ... Can you procure me some more health bags? The large sort – the small ones are of no use... ‘.

No place or date, postmarked Cheltenham, 6 January 1812: ‘Still, the old story goes forward "no good without an evil tacked onto it". The gratification Mrs Davies must feel in being herself the supporter of her little girl meets with a sad interruption. As the application you have been using so seldom fails when fresh and good, I have been thinking it possible that what you procured may have been readied ineffectual by overkeeping. If the remedy should still exist, pray try the following. Some skins we know will not bear an oily application of any sort without its exciting inflammation; a wash may therefore do better. Take twenty grains of the sugar of lead and dissolve it in two ounces of water. Let the parts affected be washed frequently, or rather sopp'd, with a bit of soft sponge – previously to the child's sucking it may be wash'd off with a little warm water ...

‘... It is astonishing to observe how a deviation apparently trifle from the rigid rules I lay down with regard to diet in such cases will turn the balance, and change comfortable health into sickness. Your mother is apt to pick, and just taste, and have the smallest relish of this or that which may be on the table and fancy from the morsels she has taken no harm can ensue. This is all error and must be corrected. Let me entreat you in the gentlest manner, to go and talk to her on a subject, that is not only interesting to her and her family, but to me and mine ... ‘.

No place (Dursley Penny Post), Tuesday night, 5 May 1812: ‘I have just received your doleful letter. Your mother still becoming more feeble, your boy ill and your wife out of health. This is a lamentable account indeed. From your description of Edward's case, I see nothing more likely to restore him than the means Mr Darke has pointed out. Before the present week ends I will if possible contrive to see him ... Have you a shower bath? It is what I may probably direct for Mrs Davies. Mrs Jenner has undergone the painful process of an abscess in the ear, but is now convalescent... ‘.

No place, no date, 17 December 1812: ‘We are all extremely happy to hear that Mrs Davies has in a more easy way that could have been expected, produced a little playfellow for Stephen. Remember what happened before, and if proper supplies are not to be found at home, seek out for them ... Your poor mother I fear is still very unwell. Are you quite certain that she sticks closely to those rigid rules of diet I laid down for her? Through life, her digestive powers have been weak, and her resolution too feeble to control her eating, when placed before her, such things, as she knew, almost for a certainty, would render her feelings unpleasant during their digestion ... when I was last at Eastington, what did I hear her say at dinner? "What, not eat some of that onion sauce, made so light and nice with my mutton – indeed, I must". All my laws and rules in an instant, came rattling about my ears in such a way, that I was like one thunderstruck. The connection between the stomach and the head is a piece of knowledge that is communicated to us without the aid of a physician. We learn it soon after our entrance into life, but are too apt to be inattentive to its admonitions. This has been exactly the case with my poor dear sister. "It is never too late to learn". I beg you then to tell her from me, that she must be ten times more careful now than ever she was. She will digest moderate quantities of plain animal food, but not vegetable. A mutton chop with its fat taken off previously to broiling and properly peppered, I placed at the top of everything for stomach made like hers ...’.

Berkeley, Sunday night, postmarked Dursley Penny Post and ‘Berkeley/119’: ‘… From the occurrence you mention, I hope Mrs Davies’s constitution may experience a salutary change, and that the guardian spots may be no longer necessary for its protection. But if that should not be the case, and any of them should happen to appear longer and more troublesome than usual, such I think may be safely touched now and then with the Goulard Cream which is made by mining thirty drops of Goulard Extract with a table spoonful of thick cream. If an ointment should disappear with the skin, the wash may be used, (a prescription for which I shall subjoin) in the same partial manner… ‘.

Cheltenham, 10 March 1814: ‘I am happy to say Mrs Jenner is much better than when I wrote last, tho’ still unable to quit her bedroom … I hope Robert, in the midst of his exultations, did not forget my commissions. About £500 depends on the execution of one of them; namely, the payment of my annual subscription at the Alfred. The Continent I hope will be soon open to the admission of your merchandise. There is no good without some evil affixt to it – what will it cost you in the article opium? We are too much the votaries of [?] here – bouts and bales, somewhere or another, every night. Catherine would burst if there were anything solid in such stuff…’ , seal tear with some loss of subscription, the remaining letters continue with updates on Mrs Jenner’s health, mentioning he has had a young physician with him over the last few days, ‘possessed of great talent and genius’ (18 March 1814); asking if Edward can run possible errands when he’s in London, ‘… In Swallow Street, there is a famous French snuff shop – Soulier’s. Pray bring half a pound of General Stuart’s mixture … ‘ (30 March 1814); ‘I don’t know whether you will send me your congratulations or not, but I am just appointed secretary in ordinary to Mr Stephen Jenner! His first command is that I answer your letter … Has your family, more particularly your nursery, ever had the scarlet fever? Caroline is now peeling from head to foot, and every particle of the shin contains the poisonous matter of this pestilential disease. Stephen has been in the midst of it and therefore if you say your family is not shielded from its influence, he must stay here and perform quarantine … [?] has given Stephen an order for a 5 guinea picture. He must paint one of his sunsets for you a la Claude – or a Teniers… ‘ (1 November 1822)

To his sister, Berkeley, Sunday morning, no date: concerning Edward Davies who is unwell in Gloucester, mentioning that his own wife Catherine is unwell ‘….as to myself, what shall I say? I have not a nerve about me that is worth picking up in the street. Will this convey any idea to you of the state I am in? My head is confused, that is the plain English of it – but I hope to be able to collect as many of my scattered thoughts as may be sufficient to set Edward to rights again; so you see I do not anticipate a bad job… ‘.

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Auction: Photographs, Autographs & Historic Documents | Royalty, Film & Sports Memorabilia, 22nd Nov, 2023

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The amount is calculated as follows:

Royalty For the portion of the Hammer Price (in Euro)

4.00% up to 50,000

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0.50% between 350,000.01 and 500,000

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Buyer's Premium :

The buyer's premium is 20%, except those lots asterisked (*) in the title for which Value Added Tax (VAT) will be added to the premium, resulting in a buyer's premium of 24% inclusive of VAT. Eligible items include manuscripts, prints, photographs, drawings, framed maps, paintings, pens and other objects which are subject to VAT at a rate of 20% on the buyer's premium as part of the Auctioneers Margin Scheme. VAT zero-rated items such as books, unframed maps and albums are not subject to VAT on the buyer's premium.

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