[William Wadd, surgeon-extraordinary to George IV and medical author.] Autograph Letter Signed ('Wm. Wadd') to 'Henry Dewey' [in fact the Yarmouth physician Henry Davey], regarding his 'Universal' print collection and 'Nugae Chirurgicae'.

William Wadd (1776-1829), surgeon-extraordinary to George IV and medical author [Henry William Robert Davey of Yarmouth]
Publication details: 
Park Place [London]; 24 April 1825.
SKU: 21662

4pp, 4to. Bifolium. In good condition, lightly aged, with thin strip of paper from mount adhering to reverse of second leaf, which is addressed by Wadd, with his seal in red wax (the breaking of which has caused slight loss to a couple of words), to 'Henry Dewey Esqr | Surgeon | King Street | Yarmouth | Norfolk'. The recipient is in fact the surgeon Henry William Robert Davey (1798-1870) of Yarmouth, son of surgeon Henry Sallows Davey (1781-1855) of Beccles. An interesting letter, casting light on print and autograph collecting in Georgian London. (Wadd was the author of 'Nugæ Chirurgicæ, or a Biographical Miscellany illustrative of a Collection of Professional Portraits', 1824.) Wadd begins the letter by stating that he has 'great pleasure' in assisting Davey in his 'pursuits'. He continues: 'If you were in town I could easily put you in the way of increasing your collection. There are several print-sellers I have employed – one in particular of the name of Smith [William Smith senior], of Lisle Street Leicester Square, who is an honest dealer – and would I have no doubt send you anything he had. There are a great many prints at low prices – it is only when they are fine or scarce – that they are valuable – Then some that cannot be purchased. Smith has them in Classes and arranged Alphabetically. The price is written in pencil on the back – and for ready money a deduction is made.' If Davey sends him a list of the prints he is after, Wadd will make enquiries and let Davey know, 'that you may have your own discretion in the purchase'. Wadd has sent 'a few Autographs which are all I can put my hand upon at present'; if these suit Davey's purpose he will send others, 'and as I am a collector myself, you can perhaps help me – my collection in this way is Universal'. Regarding his best-known work, published the year before, Wadd writes: 'The “Nugae” was begun as a catalogue for my private use – and the “Memorabilia” at the End was an after thought, for the purpose of selling a few – for when all is done in the [joke?] will cost me upwards of £50 – as o[nly] 250 copies were printed which will not pay expences. If I re-publish them – I shall make them more entertaining & I hope more profitable.' Wadd concludes by asking Davey to '[d]irect anything you may send to me under cover to my friend Mr. [Chas.] Johnson of the Post Office as his frank carries my weight & I have permission for [the] purpose.' From the distinguished autograph collection of the psychiatrist Richard Alfred Hunter (1923-1981), whose collection of 7000 works relating to psychiatry is now in Cambridge University Library. Hunter and his mother Ida Macalpine had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.