The Acquisitions Table: A Complete Treatise on the Mare and Foal

Mitchell, Conrad. A Complete Treatise on the Mare and Foal, at the Time of Delivery, with Illustrations. Middleburg, Pa.:Volksfreund, print., 1869.

Mare and FoalAAS member David Doret spoke at the Fall 2013 annual meeting about his strategy of acquiring en masse later nineteenth-century titles, which do not command a premium in the rare book market, to fill in gaps in AAS’s holdings. Proving his point that this is an area where donors and dealers can make a real impact on AAS collections, Doret and his wife Linda Mitchell gave AAS over 100 such books – and a full 80% of these turned out to be wants!

One highlight from the gift was the 6 ½ inch orange pamphlet described here. In its first few months at AAS, it has already been used by a fellow working on the treatment of animals in nineteenth-century America. Of particular interest to AAS, though, is its publication history and extremely low survival rate. We were able to track down only one other copy of this pamphlet –the deposit copy at the Library of Congress (although there is also one copy of a different edition at the University of Virginia). Prior to receiving this gift, the only specimens of printing from Middleburg, Pennsylvania, at AAS were a handful of newspaper issues. In fact it was the office of one of those newspapers that printed this pamphlet (the Middleburg newspaper Volksfreund was published until 1869).

Billed as a guide for horse midwifery, the treatise also covers cows and calves, as well as the sexually transmitted diseases of stallion and mare, and also diarrhea and costiveness in colts. At the very end there are even hints about sheep and about fattening hogs. Mitchell’s introduction, dated July 1869, New Berlin, Pennsylvania, claims: “Not a single engraving, illustrating this subject has ever been handed to the public, and very little has been written on the treatment of the mare and the foal at the time of delivery… At the earnest request of numerous dealers in horses, I was induced in the Spring of 1869, to offer this work to the public, for the benefit of the farmer and breeder, and in mercy to the mare and foal.”

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