Last update: 1998-05-01
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Phrenological Items

The Phrenology Head

The most famous Phrenological study item is the Phrenological head: a representation of a head, mostly made of china, on which the Phrenological faculties are illustrated. 

The most famous Phrenological head is probably the one by L.N. Fowler & Co. Original "Fowlers" heads date from the nineteenth century and can now only be found, at great expense, in antique shops. 

Modern sources of Phrenology heads

NOTE: References and  links to outside companies in this section are given for information purposes only. The author of this pages is not involved in the management or control of these companies, and so has no responsibility whatever concerning them.
  • A limited edition of Phrenological busts in very fine Coalport china  has been commissionned by the London Phrenology Company, 

  • These heads are modelled on the Fowler bust and are 28 cm (11") high. Unfortunately, these very fine items are now sold out.

  • The same company markets a small sculptured and engraved bust, 13 cm (5") high, available in ivory or black. 

  • Markets may provide another place where one, with some chance, may find Phrenological Heads. London's Camden Lock Market is a particular good place to look for them. The items offered are however varying in price, size, finition and quality. Some may be made of quite fine china, where others are much more coarse. In most cases, these are Fowler replicas, obviously of quite recent manufacture (they even come in a polystyrene box!). See however the warning below!

  • On the Web, Phrenology items are available from the following companies:

  • Dynamo House (Australia)
  • Gargoyles Ltd. 
  • eBAY online auctions
  • A word of warning

    Some of the heads available in the false-antique and novelty trade show the phrenological faculties arranged in the wrong places and generally mingled about, making them useless for the serious student. 

    A particular caution should be held towards a circa 35 cm high head (larger than the average Fowler replicas, which are about 28 cm high), similar to the left side image above. The phrenological faculties, which are marked in handwritten characters, are not always laid out the right way; even the errors are not always consistent. 

    As always, caveat emptor !

    The Phrenological Chart

    A two-dimensional representation of the Phrenological Head is the Phrenological Chart.
    • This figureshows a simplified Phrenological chart with the location of the principal faculties (click on image to see full size):
    • More elaborate Phrenological charts, mostly of Victorian origin, show illustrative drawings of the faculties.

    • The example below was taken from the work "How to Read Character", published by Fowler in New York in 1884. (click on image to see full size)
    • A  printed chart, adapted from a 1860 version, and printed on art paper, is available from the London Phrenology Company .

    The Tools of the Trade

    The working tools of a Phrenologist mainly consist of two instruments for measuring the head: 
    • the measuring tape
    • the craniometer

    • The craniometer, often referred to by the name of its inventor Bertillon is a specialist instrument available from the medical trade. It is also used for other anthropometric measurements. Being a specialist precision instrument, a good craniometer is quite expensive and will cost a few hundred dollars or euros.
      An early example can be seen on the following drawing:
      A contemporary version can be seen on the picture of Prof. Bouts:
    © 1998: LHOON
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