19th c. Medical Movable Atlas Book of the Human Body c.1880

$395 $750


An original 19th century medical teaching atlas of the human body including "The Skull", "The Tooth", "The Brain", "Hearing and Mastication", "Human Body", "Female Organs", "Male Organs" and the "Left Eye". All in original paper-covered boards with detachable colored movable anatomical parts and three text booklets included. Each anatomical part opens up and is incredibly detailed with layer after layer of double sided colored plates depicting the parts of the organ.

  • CREATOR G.J. Witkowski, M.D.
  • MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES Paper Covered Boards, Paper. 
  • CONDITION Good. Wear consistent with age and use. No spine. Each is loose. Several strings are broken. Plates have some wear.
  • DIMENSIONS H 14.75 in. W 11 in. D 1 in. 


The atlas accompaned a 19th century textbook on human anatomy by G.J. Witkowski. There's no mention of who created the paper models, but they are incredibly intricate feats of engineering, full of holes, flaps and moving parts, so you can peel back the layers of the body one by one. They're also really beautiful and imaginative, with different kinds of paper and shapes used to represent the complexities of the anatomy.

Anatomical flap books have been using paper to show the complex arrangement of organs since the early modern period. They're sometimes called "fugitive sheets". Andreas Vaselius produced one of the most famous examples in 1543 with De Humani Corporis Fabrica (“On the fabric of the human body”). They were produced as a kind of cut out book, so that anatomy students could hone their knowledge by assembling them themselves.

There's a long-standing set of connections between the book and the body, therefore. The anatomical atlas opened up the body, making every crevice and organ legible and visible. The body became an open book, with leaves that could be peeled back to uncover its mysteries.

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