Alembic Blog

A Rare Victorian Prosthetic Hand by J. Gillingham & Son

Our new email catalogue was released today, and one of the stand-out items is this rare and exquisitely articulated right hand and arm by J. Gillingham & Son, the UK’s most important prosthetics firm of the 19th and early 20th centuries and “the equivalent today of some of the most advanced companies working on prosthetics”.

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Sex Education or Vice & Quackery? The Liverpool Museum of Anatomy

Before the internet, how did people learn about anatomy and physiology, especially the sexy bits? Books, including cheap, illustrated texts aimed at the working classes, had been available since the dawn of printing, but a more visceral experience could found in displays of hyper-realistic wax models. These originated as teaching tools in museums and medical schools during the early 18th century, and by the Victorian Era had made their way to the general public via private "museums" such as the Liverpool Museum of Anatomy, whose intriguing guidebook we recently acquired.

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Seeing Inside: The Golden Age of Anatomical Flapbooks

Today almost everyone has seen inside a real human body. We have access to an incredible array of visual resources: high-resolution photographs, x-rays, MRI scans, videos of surgical procedures, and even the cryogenic slices of the Visible Human Project. But throughout most of history there were only a few options - viewing bodies in real life, which was generally not very pleasant and sometimes illegal; as expensive hand-made models; and as illustrations. Among the most interesting of anatomical texts from this period are flapbooks. Rather than depicting the body statically as in most book illustrations, they are an attempt to create a deeper understanding of organ systems as they relate to each other in three dimensions, with the viewer an active participant who "dissects" the body by opening the flaps.

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Happy Valentine's Day: Images of the Heart from Fritz Kahn's Das Leben des Menschen

Happy Valentines Day! To celebrate, we're sharing images of the human heart from Fritz Kahn's modernist series on human anatomy and physiology, Das Leben des Menschen, published between 1921 and 1931. Though Kahn is best known today for the poster that accompanied this set, Der Mensch als Industrialpalast, it was the books themselves that were his greatest achievement.

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