Sep 30, 2021 - Sale 2580

Sale 2580 - Lot 6

Price Realized: $ 1,062
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 800 - $ 1,200
A SEMINAL TEXT OF SCIENTIFIC RACISM (AMERICAN INDIANS.) Samuel George Morton. Crania Americana; or, A Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America. Hand-colored map, phrenological chart, 78 lithographic plates of skulls and mummified remains, numerous text illustrations. [4], v, 296, [1] pages, plus related circular bound in. Folio, disbound, with original worn and detached paper-covered boards; wear and dampstaining to the frontispiece and preliminary leaves, minor foxing; uncut. Philadelphia: J. Dobson, 1839

Additional Details

Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) was a Philadelphia medical school professor and well-respected scientist in his time. He collected skulls and other remains from across North and South America, comparing cranial sizes and determining that Caucasians had superior brain capacity. His work was influential in the early years of what is now termed scientific racism, and was used to justify slavery. His collection of skulls made their way to the University of Pennsylvania. A recent report by Paul Wolff Mitchell, "Black Philadelphians in the Samuel George Morton Cranial Collection," pointed out the disturbing nature of the collection, and just this past April, the university museum pledged to repatriate some of these human remains.

The plates are mostly by lithographers John Collins and Thomas Sinclair; Collins was known for producing views of Philadelphia and Newport, RI. Bound in after the final plate is a circular signed in type by Collins dated Philadelphia, 1 November 1839, 10 x 7 1/4 inches, explaining that he had been "almost exclusively engaged for two years past" on Crania Americana and was now eager to tackle on new projects, particularly lithography for other anatomical works.

An enthusiastic quote by an 1873 bibliographer shows the seriousness with which Morton's work was treated at the time: "Both in this country and in Europe, wherever learning and science are reverenced, Mr. Morton's work has been recognized, as one of the best contributions to exact knowledge of the history of man, ever offered as the work of one individual"--Field 1100. Sabin 51022.