Bernardino Ciarpaglini commonplace book of medicine and secrets, circa 1680-1730.

Ciarpaglini, Berardino, born 1655 [Browse]
1 v. 30.8 x 19.8 cm (124 folios)


circa 1680-1730.
Biographical/​Historical note
Ciarpaglini was born in Pratovecchio in 1655 and practiced medicine there until he relocated to Cortona, some 75 kilometers to the southeast. There he spent the rest of his professional life and even served for a while as one of the priori of the Communal Council of Cortona, 1716-1722. To judge from the contents of this volume, Ciarpaglini was something of a general practitioner, including studying the ailments of women and children. He developed a strong professional reputation as he is mentioned positively in contemporary medical and scientific literature for his expertise on epilepsy, fistulas of the tear ducts, and other disorders. While still living in Pratovecchio around 1679, Ciarpaglini conducted anatomical experiments on live dogs to remove an entire spleen and a portion of the liver. In 1680, he was among the distinguished physicians who observed the Italian anatomist Giuseppe Zambeccari (1655-1728) performing an excision of a dog's spleen. In 1723, he provided autobiographical information before giving expert testimony to the Sagra Congregatione de' Riti about the state of the sacred body of St. Margaret of Cortona (canonized in 1728), including the condition of her head, face, eyes, mouth, arms, hands, and feet.
Summary note
  • Bernardino Ciarpaglini, an Italian physician and experimental anatomist, kept this volume of various prescriptions, recipes, remedies, advice, and spells in Tuscany from around 1680 to 1730. His ownership is attested by an inscription, which records his birth date and hour, as well as that of his brother Belisario. The contents include copied text from published books, such as Albertus Magnus' (d. 1280) Liber mineralium (“Libro de minerali”) as well as information spread by word of mouth. Many entries are credited to particular physicians and clerics in Tuscany.
  • There are recipes of every type, many of which are preceded by the Latin abbreviation Rx, indicating a medical prescription, as well as some discussion about disorders such as epilepsy and fistulas of the tear ducts of which Ciarpaglini was considered an expert. There are preparations for a wide array of conditions and circumstances, such as to induce vomiting, help one fall asleep, clean teeth, facilitate childbirth, and suppress lactation. Particular remedies include a Chinese elixir said to have been used by King Louis XIV; an aphrodisiac ointment made from crushed ants; and a cure for sexual dysfunction, prepared from chocolate, orchids, champagne, and other ingredients. A few recipes were crossed out with critical notes saying that they were ineffective. Some recipes identify their source and note where and when they were transcribed. Secrets include alchemical transmutation of lead into silver, production of a liquid that would turn a person's face black, removing stains, cleaning gold objects, fishing effortlessly, preparing tobacco, preserving wine, and making a woman tell the truth in her sleep. There is a five-page section on cryptology, accompanied by an separate cipher table and key written on a small piece of parchment, probably for use while traveling. Ciarpaglini notes that he had learned the cipher from Giuseppe da Contignano, a local Capuchin friar. There is also a loose paper copy of a 1599 recipe for wine vinegar, attributed to a certain Giacomo Buonaparte. Ciarpaglini copied most of the entries in 23 alphabetical sections, within a blank stationer's volume, using heavy laid paper with a tre lune watermark, especially popular with Venetian papermakers at the time. The text block was modified with a thumb index cut along the fore edge.
Binding note
In contemporary limp-vellum binding.
Source acquisition
Purchase, 2016. AM 2017-4.
Other views
Staff view

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