ALS in French, signed “L. Pasteur,” one page, 5.25 x 8, December 22, 1885. Letter to a gentleman. In full (translated): “I received from Mrs. Billings (the wife of the doctor accompanying the young Americans who were bitten) a letter in which she asks me to have the boat met by someone who speaks French and English. I will reply that you will be there, since I believe that your plan to be there has not changed.” In fine condition, with light scattered creases and toning, and a trivial tear to left edge.
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 four months later, word spread and people began to seek him out for the vaccinations. When four boys in New Jersey were bit by a rabid dog (the Americans referred to in this letter), a fundraising effort arose to help send them to France, accompanied by American surgeon Dr. John Shaw Billings, via ocean liner for Pasteur’s treatment; despite the long travel, the boys all returned home in January of 1886 in excellent health. Three months later, Pasteur would officially present his results, announcing only one fatality out of 350 patients who received the vaccine. An excellent letter from the crucial stage of the vaccine’s history, regarding four of his earliest rabies patients. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.