Print showing a phrenological consulting room for servants, England, 1805-1830

1805-1830 in London
Taylor, W

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Photographic copy: Print. [Phrenological office for servants] / W Taylor Del & Sc. - Published by W Taylor 5 Mount
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Print. [Phrenological office for servants] / W Taylor Del & Sc. - Published by W Taylor 5 Mount Street Walworth, n.d. [1805-1830?]. Etching, col; platemark 20x24.8cm, sheet 24.5x30cm. Caricature: lampooning Gall, Spurzheim and phrenology. Servants wanted; selection board in progress, inspecting applicants' heads; queue of large headed people in doorway; office with busts and phrenological heads above books on shelf and another head on floor. Office charges at per bump... caption beneath image prophesies this test for future employment, referring to a lecture on phrenology

This satirical print shows servants who are looking for work having the lumps and bumps of their skulls examined to determine what their character and abilities are in a practice known as phrenology. The inscription at the bottom expresses the desire for a day when phrenological tests will replace the need for references. The books of two prominent phrenologists, Franz Gall (1758-1828), the founder of phrenology, and Johann Spurzheim (1776-1832), sit on the shelves with phrenological heads, which were used for consultations.

Although practitioners of phrenology took the subject seriously many others, including the majority of the medical profession, saw the practice as quackery. Certainly, the artist thought so, exaggerating the lumps and bumps of the skulls that phrenologists looked and felt for.


Object Number:
  • visual and verbal communication
Grosvenor Prints

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