With Case Studies & Physician Testimonials

MEDICINE. Giraldini, Piero Francesco (active 1626)

Discorso sopra la Pietra Belzuar Minerale

Florence: Zanobi Pignoni, 1626


Octavo: 106, [8] pp. Collation: *4, A-M4, N6 (N6 blank)


Bound in 20th century half calf over marbled boards, title in gold on the spine. A very fine, bright copy with an attractive and unusual engraved title page (slightly shaved at the foot). Marbled endpapers. With a small stamp of an unidentified cardinal on the title page. Excellent.

A rare work on the nature, preparation, and medicinal properties of mineral bezoar (antimony oxide), which the author claims is far more potent and effective than the extremely rare and much coveted bezoars ("snake-stones") imported from India, where they are formed in the gut of ruminants. Although it is not the focus of his work, Giraldini does discuss the origins, physical qualities, and medicinal uses of these "Belzoar dell'Animale."

Mineral bezoar, as described by Giraldini, is of the hardness of marble, bright, and clear. Broken into little pieces, the fragments are almost always rhomboidal in shape. When these fragments are cast on burning coals, they give off little flashes, as in the case of sulfur, Polvere del Chiaramonte (or "Terra di Baira", as it is called in Palermo.) He tells us that the mineral, found in certain places in Tuscany and at Mugnone near Fiesole, is very valuable. Giraldini prescribes the mineral as a powder for fevers, kidney stones, pleurisy, and other obstructions. An index at the end of the volume lists all of the illnesses successfully treated.

Where to buy your medicine:

Giraldini tells his prospective customers where they can buy mineral bezoar. "I dispense it in Florence", he writes, "in Piazza Frescobaldi between Via Maggio and Ponte S. Trinità, next to the barber's shop. If I am out, ask the barber. He will know where to find me." He also gives the price, explains how to prepare it, and how people should take it. He prescribes it both to those who are sick, and to those who are well (as a prophylactic.)


This advertisement is followed by the testimonials of numerous physicians and patients praising Giraldini's abilities as a doctor and the efficacy of his product. These letters are followed by an index listing the names of 88 people who benefited from the use of Giraldini's preparations.

History of Geology and Medicine, p. 143; Wellcome catalogue, 2848