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Natural and political observations mentioned in a following index and made upon the bills of mortality... with reference to the government, religion, trade, growth, ayre, diseases, and the several changes of the said city.
London: Thomas Roycroft, for John Martin, James Allestry, and Thmas Dicas, 1662. Very rare first edition of the foundation work of demographics and medical statistics: the beginning of studies about why people die, and the beginning of disease control. "The application of critical scientific methods to medical and vital statistics, which underlies so much of modern government and ecomomics, can be traced back to John Graunt's remarkable book" (Printing and the Mind of Man)". This is a fine copy in unrestored English calf from the library of John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl. Flawless copies as this are exceptionally rare on the market: the Honeyman and Phillipps copies lacked the tables and the Norman and Tufte copies were in modern bindings and shaved with loss. ?PMM 144; Norman 933; Garrison-Morton 1686; Parkinson, Breakthroughs 1662. "The statistical recording of social and medical phenomena, now an essential feature of modern life and government, was introduced by John Graunt, originally a haberdasher in the city of London, who was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on the publication of this book. "Lists of births and deaths had been published sporadic­ ally in London since the sixteenth century. After the plague in 1603 there were weekly reports of baptisms, burials and deaths from the plague, and after 1629 all causes of deaths were methodically published by the parish clerks in London. From these reports Graunt drew up his statistical tables. He was the first to recognize the importance of vital statistics and the need for reducing them to order, which he found to be possible by mathematical calculation, leading to important conclusions on the social and economic conditions of the people. Graunt constructed the first life tables showing the proportion of persons born alive who live to successive ages and the expectation of life at each age. He collected medical data on a mathematical basis and noted seasonal and annual variations in the death rates, classifying their causes. This became important to future studies of epidemiology by such men as William Farr, John Snow and others in the nineteenth century. The scientific study of the numbers, characteristics and territorial distribution of populations - today called demography - began with Graunt. He formulated some fundamental principles; for example, that certain vital phenomena are regular, that the urban death rate normally exceeds the rural one, that mortality rates are highest in early and late years of life and that male births exceed female. "The application of critical scientific methods to medical and vital statistics, which underlies so much of modern government and economics, can be traced back to John Graunt's remarkable book. His immediate influence was considerable, particularly on Sir William Petty, the author of Political Arithmetic. Petty edited the fifth edition of Graunt's book in 1675, which at one time led people to believe erroneously that he, and not Graunt, was the author. Edmund Halley published a paper in the Philosophical Transactions in 1693 on the subject of life tables which remained in use until well into the nineteenth century; and his ideas were derived from Graunt. Graunt's own tables were quoted in France until the end of the eighteenth century and his influence was also felt in Holland and in Germany; a German edition of his book was issued in 1702. Graunt advocated a census of populations; but although censuses had been published in Virginia since 1624 and in Canada since 1665, Europe was slow in adopting the idea; the first census in France was taken in 1800, the first in England in 1801. Graunt's importance for the establishment of life insurance offices is obvious." (Printing and the Mind of Man). 4to (194 x 145mm). Woodcut headpieces and initials, folding 'Table of Casualties' and 'Number of burials and christenings in the seven parishes [1636-1659]'. (Leaves B2-3 loose and with very small marginal chip, 'Table of Casualties' with very short tear affecting just a few letters.) Contemporary sheep (extremities faintly rubbed). Provenance: John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl (1660-1724, bookplate dated 1711 on verso of title).
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Last Found On: 2015-05-21           Check availability:      Direct From Bookseller    


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