JOURNAL DES SAVANTS: Resewn noses
Personally, I had always had a vague idea that the ability to reattach body parts was developed in the twentieth century. But apparently noses, at least, have been reattached since ancient times, per this 1994 article from the Washington Post (which dates such surgery back to the Egyptians) and this (very commercial) plastic surgery site which points out that such surgery was popular in India as far back as 500 B.C. "because using mutilation as a form of punishment and humiliation was quite common." The same site says that, after Byzantine times, "the practice of plastic surgery waned, only to experience a resurgence in the first the 14th and then the 18th century."
The Journal des Savants, in items ranging from the dubious to the well-documented, documents part of this resurgence.
The first mention of this in the Journal (1666 (423)) is in an article on remote communication by such things as secret codes, but also by various supposed forms of sympathy. In this connection, the story is told of an Italian gentleman whose nose was cut off and who replaced it using the flesh of his valet. Supposedly, several years later when the valet died, the master's nose started to rot. (The writer, having been twice to the town where this was said to have occured, found people there unwilling to talk about it and decided it was a fable.)
This item in a brief 'Extract from the Abbe Nazari's Journal of Italy' (1678 (272)) is evocative, if tantalizing:
3. Of a Nose cut off by the headsman which was fortunately put back after being caught when it fell into a hot roll cut down the middle and then applied in this state and resewn.
Mentions in our own century become more specific, starting with one (1731 (479-480)), which tells of a soldier who on September 26, 1724 quarreled with a friend who bit his nose off. The friend, finding something in his mouth, spit the nose out into the gutter and, enraged, stepped on it. The soldier picked it up, threw it into a neighboring surgeon's 'shop' and ran after his friend. The surgeon, finding it covered with mud, washed it in a fountain. When the soldier came back, the surgeon heated the nose in wine, cleaned the wound and stuck the nose back on with a plaster. Within a day, the nose was beginning to heal and within four days was solidly scarified and reattached.
M. de Garengeot, who told this story, wrote: "Who would ever have thought... that the end of a nose crushed in a gutter, then cooled by the water of a fountain, would have been ready to enjoy a second life? Is there not in that lessons more persuasive and more useful than knowledge supposedly sublime, reserved to few, which in truth lulls the sick a certain time, but of which they soon perceive the vanity and lack of effect?"
Finally, the 1736 edition contains several stories (611-612) from Dionis, a Paris surgeon, on noses split or cut off (sometimes by jealous wives) with some details of how to restore them, using waxed thread. Though the same author says that a nose which has been completely cut off cannot be restored, the reveiewer tells two stories which rather dramatically contradict this - one of a thief whose friends cut off the end of a hapless victim's nose so that a surgeon could replace his and another of a surgeon who stuck the bleeding part of the wounded nose against the patient's forearm until, we are told, the flesh of the arm stuck to it and then was cut away to form the shape of the end of the nose (!).