Tomorrow is World Health Day, and the Portico’s shelves contain numerous writings by 19th-century physicians and biologists who attempted to advance our collective understanding of human wellbeing. Some of them, like the phrenology advocate Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (1776-1832), didn’t always get it right. This illustration from his ‘Phrenology’ (1825) is part of the 'Off The Shelf' exhibition, which runs at The Portico until 24th June.
Though Portico member Richard Cobden (1804-1865) was among many who still believed in the pseudo-science of Phrenology in the mid-19th century, it had been powerfully discredited by Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869) in 1838. Roget, who was the Portico’s first Secretary, is best known for publishing the first 'Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases' in in 1852.