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Jenner Sends Vaccine Material to the Man who First Coined the Term "Vaccination"

Category: Science
Item Number: 13512
Price: $28,000

Edward Jenner

Virologist and Inventor of the smallpox vaccine. Autograph letter signed. 3 pages. London, February 14, 1802. Jenner writes to his friend and vaccine supporter, the surgeon Richard Dunning, who first coined the term "vaccination." Written just a few years after Jenner first published his findings on vaccination in "An Inquiry…," this letter illustrates the dramatic transformation Jenner underwent from country doctor to scientist of international renown. As the news of his discovery spread, Jenner received letters from numerous physicians and philanthropists. He writes in this letter, "In point of politeness, I ought to address a letter to all those Gentl[emen] who so kindly address'd letters to me; but you can hardly guess at the constant succession of (I hardly know how to give these scenes a name) vaccine affairs, that incessantly come before me at this peculiar juncture." The recipient of this letter, Dunning, was the first to coin the term "vaccination," which Jenner had previously referred to as "vaccinism." Dunning's esteem for Jenner was so great that Baron reports he obtained Jenner's so that it could hang in the Medical Society of Plymouth. Jenner was extremely active in facilitating access to his vaccine. He ended nearly in ruin because of his consistent choice to provide the vaccine for free, rather than let anyone go without it. He fulfilled requests of doctors all around the world (the "vaccine affairs" Jenner refers to in this letter), so they could spread it outside the range of the elderly Jenner's free vaccine clinics. Jenner sent vaccine matter to his old friend and colleague, John Clinch, soon after the publication of "An Inquiry…" in 1798. This was followed soon after by another request from the New World, this time from a professor at the Harvard Medical School, Benjamin Waterhouse, who would campaign aggressively on behalf of Jenner's vaccine in the United States. At the time of our letter, Jenner was sending vaccine matter in response to an urgent request from Ceylon, and not long after that, Jenner would accomplish the complex logistical feat of getting his vaccine to India. Dunning was also an intended recipient of Jenner's vaccine matter, as Jenner notes with anxiety as a postscript to this letter: "Have you yet rec.d the Vaccine matter I promised to send you?" And he signs "E Jenner." Repaired tear to the second leaf due to the opening of the seal. The tear goes through the signature but does not affect the text of the letter and has been professionally repaired. Some spotting. Fold separation. The letter is attractive, legible, and in good condition.

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