Apr 12, 2018 - Sale 2473

Sale 2473 - Lot 143

Price Realized: $ 5,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(MEDICINE.) Account book of the renowned physician George Huntington, who identified Huntington's Disease. [24], 158, [5] manuscript pages. Folio, 15 x 6 inches, original 1/2 calf, moderate wear; parts of front free endpaper and pages 107-110 torn out, several blanks excised near end, otherwise minimal wear to contents. Lagrange, NY, 1874-77

Additional Details

George Huntington (1850-1916) was a physician best known for his research on the hereditary disease which bears his name. A third-generation physician, he graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1871, and the following year published his groundbreaking paper on Huntington's Chorea, which had never before been properly described or diagnosed. The American folksinger Woody Guthrie later became the most famous victim of the disease. After the publication of his famous paper, Huntington went into family practice, with two failed attempts in Pomeroy, OH and his hometown of East Hampton, Long Island, before removing in 1874 to rural Lagrange, NY, east of the Hudson River between New York City and Albany (see Wexler, The Woman Who Walked Into the Sea: Huntington's and the Making of a Genetic Disease, pages 91-93).
This ledger was kept during Huntington's first year of practice in Lagrange, in partnership with Dr. Stephen Squire Green (whose initials appear on the front flyleaf). The first account opens on 28 May 1874, and the ledger was posted for settlement on 8 May 1875, although a few accounts have later entries. On page 158 is a list of "monies received by George Huntington on this ledger since dissolution of partnership between Green & Huntington" (Green moved to Buffalo, NY in 1875). The ledger entries describe the activities of a typical busy country doctor, with house visits to patients in Lagrange and occasionally the neighboring towns to dispense medications, dress wounds, set fractures, or extract teeth. Payment was usually given in cash, but occasionally in barter--one patient knocked off $21 from their bill with "1000 lbs feed" (page 7), another paid in oats (page 33), and one patient paid $7.12 in sausage (page 56). One patient is marked as "dead beat" (page 38) and another as "colored" (page 76). At the rear of the volume is a sheet of pencil drawings of several medical implements (and also, inscrutably, a parsnip). A revealing record of an important physician in the first year of his first successful medical practice.