Illustrations from Vaught’s Practical Character Reader, a book on phrenology by L. A. Vaught published in 1902. As he confidently states in his Preface:
The purpose of this book is to acquaint all with the elements of human nature and enable them to read these elements in all men, women and children in all countries. At least fifty thousand careful examinations have been made to prove the truthfulness of the nature and location of these elements. More than a million observations have been made to confirm the examinations. Therefore, it is given the world to be depended upon. Taken in its entirety it is absolutely reliable. Its facts can be completely demonstrated by all who will take the unprejudiced pains to do so. It is ready for use. It is practical. Use it.
The book lays out the 42 known elements of human nature and how they’re made manifest in people’s heads, noses, ears and chins.
It’s both fascinating and disturbing to look through the diagrams from old phrenology texts. Although phrenology was at the height of its popularity during the first half of the 19th century, it enjoyed a bit of resurgence in the early 20th century.
While the author expounds with conviction on “cruel eyes,” “selfish ears” and “gross, sensual chins,” the illustrator provides diagrams and pictures which have cemented the book as a classic in the genre of unintentional humor.
Images: Library of Congress