Two Manuscript Books of Laboratory Notes by student of bacteriology and later publisher of “The Causes of Tuberculosis”, Louis Cobbett (1863 – 1947), dealing in these lab notes with the discovery of remedies for Tuberculosis and Diphtheria. Original, two-volume Manuscript-Compendium of research-notes regarding all the important discoveries in Bacteriology (Diphtheria and Tuberculosis) by contemporaries of Louis Cobbett during the years 1885 – 1908 (Behring, Koch, Metchnikoff etc.). The notes were started by Louis Cobbett in 1885, after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge and while he was working towards his degree in 1899. The stunning documents are not only reading like a first-hand-journal of discoveries, citing and reflecting on all the important developments and medical advancements of the outgoing 19th and beginning 20th century, but these notes were written parallel to Robert Koch, Emil von Behring and others making their breakthrough discoveries for mankind’s desperately needed cures against Tuberculosis and Diphtheria. Cobbett reflects on the publications in the “Zeitschrift fuer Hygiene” and separately published books and articles. Louis Cobbett lists all the important and also the critical publications leading up to (for example) Koch’s discovery of Tuberculin (e.g.: Beck – “Ueber die diagnostische Bedeutung des Kochschen Tuberculins”), he mentions Emil von Behring, Paul Ehrlich’s “Ueber die Constitution des Diphteriegiftes”, he cites A.Jeffery Turner’s “Statistics on the Diphtheria mortality of the 3 principal Australian Colonies for the past 15 years” (published in 1899), he writes about Tuberculin production in fowl, he reflects on A.Calmette and G. Guerin, “supporting [Emil von] Behring in his contention that pulmonary tuberculosis is of intestinal origin”. Other mentions are “TB of human origin (from a cervical gland)”, he speculates on the publication by Fiebiger and Jensen regarding the transmission of tuberculosis from human to animal, he offers drawings of cultures with Rabbit emulsions, Bovine Characters, Avian cultural characters etc. A few lectures are referred to, including one by Sims Woodhead, a colleague of Louis Cobbett and no doubt attended by Cobbett himself; one newspaper report has been pasted in: ‘Important conference’ in Leeds, from Yorkshire Post 1899 / Louis Cobbett intensely elaborates on Kossel and his report on the english Tuberculosis – Commission in 1908 (H. Kossel – Die Tuberkulosefrage und die Arbeiten der englischen Tuberkulosekommission).
[Cambridge], c. 1885 – 1908. Octavo (17 cm x 21 cm). 90 blank leaves with manuscript entries in each volume, usually written on rectos only. Hardcover / Original half leather with dark blue cloth-covered boards bearing paper-labels to covers, detailing some of the sources cited within; marbled endpapers and edges. Very good condition with only minor signs of external wear.
Louis Cobbett, who later would become a university-lecturer for bacteriology himself (1907 – 1929 / he subsequently wrote “The Causes of Tuberculosis” in 1917), mentions, dissects and critically reflects in these two volumes on all the important medical discoveries made available in the first editions in bookform and breakthrough-publications in medical journals between the years 1895 and 1907.
His notes don’t simply mention Koch’s discovery of the tuberculosis bacteria or Behring’s serum against Diphteria as Eureka-moments, he instead offers us a rare look over the shoulder of time and we see through the curious, yet critical eyes of the student: He is carefully juxtaposing all the important contemporary medical publications, building on each other, offering insights into the development of new experimental methods, the foundations of animal testing, experiments with goats, tortoise’s, horses etc.
These notes are disciplined and advanced and culminate in possibly one of the most detailed accounts of an important british/european bacteriologist, who witnessed from afar the discovery of the tuberculosis bacteria and Behring’s Diphteria Serum and juxtaposed the findings of an epoch of medical discovery to the benefits of today’s researchers.
Louis Cobbett was educated by possibly the last breed of sensational polyhistors (Sir George Murray Humphry, Sir Michael Foster and Sir George Paget) and the detail and criticism of his lab notes do not surprise if we look at the genesis of his personality, from oarsman for Trinity in 1883 to the member of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society he would later become.
The two Volumes of Lab Notes should find their way back to an institution in the UK.