Set of sixty miniature heads used in phrenology, Manchester, England, 1831.
Science Museum, London
Phrenology originated with German physician Franz Joseph Gall with assistance from his colleague, Johann Kaspar Spurzheim. Phrenologists believed that the shape and size of various areas of the brain and skull determined personality. These heads are numbered according to Spurzheim’s classification. The heads may have been used to teach phrenology but were probably made as a general reference collection. A wide range of different heads are present. For instance, head number 54 is that of a ‘scientific man’; head number 8 is recorded as the head of an ‘idiot’.