We do not take the study of human personality from the shape of the
head very seriously and we emphatically reject the racist aspect associated
with it, but we find the graphics and objects associated with
the 19th century "science" visually interesting. We now have 12 phrenology
heads in plaster, metal, and ceramic. All the heads are 20th century
but we do have a selection of original 19th and early 20th century books,
graphics including a color illustration from an old medical book that
includes the phrenology areas as one of the lift-up layers of the head.
Jack has made a series of photographs with the heads and some antique
Ouija boards he bought. (OH NO not the start of another collection!)
The bookcase shelf above contains some of our phrenology collection.
On the left is the top of a 1885 bill or receipt from Fowler &
Wells for $12.50. We are not sure what is is for but seems to say
"Oefale" and "Can you make us a report?"
||This comic postcard from early in the 20th century shows
Professor Phelum Bumps giving a phrenology reading.
The head on the right is a modern copy of a Fowler head. We have
reproduction heads in sizes from 4 inches to 18 1/2 inches. Several
are advertising pieces from the 1950s and 60s for pharmaceutical
Jack would like to have an original 19th century head but Beverly thinks they
are too expensive and the modern one are fine.
On the left is a postcard by Lucy Mabel Attwell. One of her typical
round faced boys studies a phrenology book with his hand on the
head of a little girl. The caption says "You are very fond
of the boys!"
The phrenology chart above is a plate from an anatomy
book that appears to be from the early years of the 20th century.
An early version of this page included an interactive list of the
functioning correctly. It will be restored once the problem has
||In May, 2000 a the Chesapeake Antiquarian Photographic Society
visited Gibson's Photographic Gallery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
We watched a fascinating demonstration of wet collodion photography
and along with several other members had a half plate ambrotype portrait
made. We carried along two of our phrenology heads and were photographed
as phrenologist and client.
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items on the Collection
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Updated on 2/2004