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Books, Journals, New Media
November 5, 1997

A reader and reviewer has sent this amplification of

JAMA. 1997;278(17):1462. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550170096050

The acknowledged (though not by Vesalius) artist who designed the woodblocks, Jan Stephen of Calcar, was a pupil of Titian. Done in pearwood, these blocks were sawed with the grain and cut with knives (ie, not engraved), which makes their beauty and detail the more remarkable. Their journey through the centuries is worth a brief recapping.1

After the editions of the Fabrica of 1543 and 1555, the blocks were kept by Vesalius, then purchased from his heirs after his death in 1564. Disappearing for over a century, they resurfaced in Augsburg for limited printings in 1706, 1723, and 1783, after which they again disappeared. In 1893,141 small and six large blocks were accidentally discovered in a cupboard in the library of the University of Munich, but the discovery went largely unnoticed. Then, in 1932, at the prompting of the New York Academy of Medicine, another search was done in Munich