A System of Phrenology


A System of Phrenology


The title page of A System of Phrenology boasts that the volume features “upward of one hundred engravings.” Photography had been discovered by the time the book was published, but the dominant processes of the time (the daguerreotype and the calotype) did not offer an efficient or practical method of circulating knowledge alongside printed text. 

The system of phrenology described in this volume is closely related to the Victorian practice of physiognomy. Described today as pseudosciences, phrenology and physiognomy posited that an individual’s exterior features revealed aspects of their character. Later, Francis Galton would use photography as a tool to both investigate and circulate physiognomic principles, and Charles Darwin would use photographs to examine human emotion

A full scan of this item is available through the Internet Archive.


George Combe (author)
J. J. Butler (engraver)


19.0 x 11.3 cm
BF 870 C72 1844


title page 72dpi.jpg
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p80 b 72dpi.jpg
binding 72dpi.jpg



George Combe (author) J. J. Butler (engraver), “A System of Phrenology,” Bruce Peel Special Collections Library Online Exhibits, accessed May 31, 2023, https://omeka.library.ualberta.ca/items/show/3047.

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