Lot #175
Louis Pasteur

Pasteur cares for indigent rabies victims: "Send the bitten child without delay"
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Estimate: $3000+


Pasteur cares for indigent rabies victims: "Send the bitten child without delay"

ALS in French, signed “L. Pasteur,” one page, 5.25 x 8, December 22, 1885. Dramatic letter to a mayor, concerning the rabies vaccine. In part (translated): "I have just telegraphed to send the bitten child without delay. If she is very poor give her the return ticket and I can take care of the expenses while she is here. Some people already treated have given me money for your indigents and I have a few hundred francs from them. The municipal council of Havre has sent me a thousand francs for the same purpose. Please receive the assurance of my very distinguished consideration." In fine condition, with some light soiling.

After five years of extensive study of the rabies virus and the successful treatment of several infected dogs, Louis Pasteur faced his first human patient in July of 1885. Certain that the severely bitten nine-year-old Joseph Meister would not survive without treatment, he began the course of the 13 injections; after administering all 13, one each day, in progressively stronger doses, Meister regained strength and never developed rabies. After a second successful treatment on a bitten shepherd which began in October, word spread and people began to seek him out for the vaccinations. This letter emphasizes the importance of speed in the response to a dog bite, ordering that a bitten child be sent to him without delay. A remarkable letter by the scientist penned at the height of his rabies research.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #589 - Ended August 12, 2020

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