Popular Medicine: Skinner's THE FAMILY DOCTOR
Skinner, H[enry] B[urchstead]. THE FAMILY DOCTOR, OR GUIDE TO HEALTH: Containing a Brief Description of the General Causes, Symptoms, and Cure of Diseases; with an Appendix Showing the Medical Properties of Many Useful Roots and Herbs, Together with 100 Valuable Recipes. Boston: J.K. Wellman, [printed by D.H. Ela], 1844. 16mo. 56 pages. Original printed green wrappers. 11 x 17 cm. Approximately one half of spine perished. The wraps are still attached and the book is held by the original stitching, but the lower third of the text block shows separation between gatherings and along some folds. Some soiling and small stains to the wraps. Corners worn or slightly turned throughout, with slight loss to lower corner of front wrap. Foxed throughout and with occasional small spots of damping. Good only.
Twenty-fourth edition, so stated, following the first of the same year. While described as "carefully revised and enlarged" (p. ), all of the preceding editions we have been able to identify had the same pagination as this, with the exception of the first edition (46 pages with only 37 recipes advertised). By the end of 1844, the forty second-edition had been published and it was reprinted again in 1845 and 1846. By 1847, an expanded edition was issued under a variant title and stated as the 130th edition. While the work was evidently a success, we suspect that many of the statements of "edition" may have reflected the publisher's desire to advertise the book's popularity, rather any actual textual changes.
Of the hundred recipes alluded to in the title (actually 102), only a minority are medicinal. There are also "manufacturer's" and miscellaneous recipes (inks, varnish, plaster, shaving soap, hop beer, sarsaparilla mead, etc.), a "Housewife's Department" (instructions for removing stains, killing pests, preserving food, etc.), and a section on "Domestic Cookery." Henry Burchstead Skinner published several other popular books including "The American Cookery" (1850) and the "Book of Indian Battles" (1853). See Atwater Collection 3228-3228.3 (first and several other editions).
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