Patrick's Rare Books

Barclay & Mitchell, Engravings of the Human Skeleton 1819/1820

Barclay & Mitchell, Engravings of the Human Skeleton 1819/1820

A Series of Engravings, Representing the Bones of the Human Skeleton; with the Skeletons of Some of the Lower Animals. By Edward Mitchell, Engraver, Edinburgh. The Explanatory References by John Barclay, M. D. Lecturer on Anatomy, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, &c. &c. Part I. Edinburgh. 1819. BOUND WITH Part II. Edinburgh. 1820.


Folio volume in half leather binding with marbled paper over boards. Black title plate and raised bands on spine. Marbled page edges. Spine mildly sunned. New end papers, including three fly leaves at both front and rear. Minimal foxing. Thick, crisp paper. Large margins. Clean, bright, and tight throughout.


Part 1: Plates: 1 - 3 from Albinus. 4 man from Sue; ostrich from Cheselden. 5 – 8 from Sue. 9 from Sue and from Barclay’s Museum. 10 from Barclay’s Museum. 11 – 17 from Sue.


Part II: Plates: 18 – 20 without attribution of origin. 21 – 32 from Sue.


Title page of Part II followed by blank recto with Mitchell’s announcement of a proposed Part III on verso. The plates of Part II are followed by a one-page preface to the table, then 24 pages of table. After this, three plates of animal skeletons (an elephant with skeletal man rider, a pair of birds, and a specimen of Osteichthyes). One original blank fly leaf at rear.


35 plates in all. In addition to the previously mentioned skeletal elephant with skeletal man rider, The Albinus plates are those of human skeletons accompanied by a skeletal horse. Plate xxix is a term fetal skeleton, while xxx includes a fetus holding a scythe. The remainder of the plates show expertly rendered adult human skeletal components in various stages of articulation/disarticulation, and from multiple angles. An extremely impressive osteology.


Measures 14 ½ x 10 5/8 x 1 inch.


Not in Garrison-Morton or Waller.


See Heirs of Hippocrates 720, for a related title of 1829: “John Barclay (1758 – 1826) … “appears to have been the first anatomist to use the suffix ‘-ad’ indicating direction, e.g. rotulad, tibiad, sternad’ (Osler 1910).”


“John Barclay used to warn his students against thinking that they would make anatomical discoveries with these words:


‘Anatomy may be likened to a harvest field. First come the reapers who, entering on untrodden ground, cut down great store of corn from all sides of them. These were the earliest anatomists of modern Europe, such as Vesalius, Fallopius, Malpighi, and Harvey. Then come the gleaners, all gather up ears enough from the bare ridges to make a few loaves of bread. Such were the anatomists of the last century—Winslow, Vicq d’Azyr, Camper, Hunter, and the two Monroes [sic]. Last of all come the geese, who still contrive to pick up a few grains scattered here and there among the stubble, and waddle home in the evening, poor things, cackling with joy because of their success. Gentlemen, we are the geese.’” (Sinclair and Robb-Smith, 1950)