The James Moores Ball Collection

Title page from Andreas Vasalius’ De humani corporis fabrica libri septem…Basileae: Ex officinal Joannis Oporini, 1543.

Physician and scholar James Moores Ball (1862-1929) was an avid bibliophile and eminent member of the St. Louis Medical Society.  He collected rare works on early science and medicine, particularly early anatomies from the 16th to 18th centuries.  His book collection was presented to the St. Louis Medical Society in 1928, where it formed the core of the Society’s rare book holdings. In 1989 the Society deposited the Ball collection at the Bernard Becker Medical Library.

The 2600 volumes of the Ball collection cover the 16th to 20th centuries.  Some of the large folio atlases are visually stunning collaborations of artist, scientist and engraver, of which the most magnificent example is the elephant folio of Bernard Siegfried Albinus (1697-1770), Tabulae sceleti et musculatorum (1747). The subsequent period of anatomical figuration after Vesalius, the Albinian period, was named in recognition of Albinus’ achievement.

If you would like more information about the collection, please visit the digital exhibit Rare Books at Becker.