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The Crystal Bridges Library: Art and Medicine (Part 2)

Bodyscope

A new gift from our wonderful library friend and volunteer Dr. Kirk Dandridge prompts this month’s blog series. Soon after Dr. Dandridge donated the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright drawing portfolios and collection of FLW books, he followed up with a donation of 11 illustrated medical books and ephemera (not to mention a signed publication on Thomas Hart Benton AND a handwritten letter from Benton commenting on the American art scholar Lloyd Goodrich‘s critique of the artist’s biography, An Artist in America). This is the second in a series of posts related to Dr. Kirk Dandridge’s gift.  To view the first post in this series: CLICK HERE.

BodyscopeBodyscope, 1935 by Ralph and Theodore Segal, is an interactive volvelle teaching chart with moving discs of different anatomical parts and descriptions of the human body and organ systems. The large 20 1/2 by 16 inch bound boards allow cut away views of the torso that rotate, providing different perspectives of the internal organs of both male and female figures. Although scientific with anatomically correct imagery, the chart is embellished with period fonts, art deco borders, spandrels holding portraits of historical medical figures like Leonardo DaVinci and Charles Darwin, and period social and moral epigrams written by Ralph H. Segal. The first epigram reads:

God conceived our body with its life; dedicating its care and use to our keeping. Thus, it becomes man’s bounden duty to seek comprehension of the bodily processes so that with proper knowledge he can foster and maintain its health thru life’s mortal span.

Dr. Dandridge also donated a 1948 copy of Bodyscope that is in fine condition and can be explored by appointment. Please contact [email protected] if you would like to experience this publication.

Dr. Dandridge also donated a number of very interesting Parker's Tonicmedical Victorian advertising trading cards. These cards would have been distributed outside of shops selling the products, and as with other Victorian album cards, kept in albums or traded.

The products advertised include Parker’s Tonic, apparently a very popular healing restorer, Lydia E. Pinkham’s Vegetable compound, and The National Surgical Institute of Philadelphia. Although the trade card format and image on the front was the most appealing aspect for the general public, the dense promotional text on the back cleverly promises healing ailments ranging from the common cold to bodily deformities.

Thank you again, Dr. Dandridge! These items will be treasure for our community for many years to come.

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