An Angry, Wicked
Essays on Physiognomy (1792)
 by Johann Caspar Lavater
( Engraving by Francis Barlow )

image credit- National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden

New physiognomy, or Signs of character, as manifested through temperament and external forms and especially in "the human face divine"
By Samuel Roberts Wells


10th ed.,1858


Charles Le Brun's (1619-1690) physiognomies

The first image is by Le Brun
The rest are from
Dissertation sur un traite de Charles Le Brun concernant le rapport de la physionomie humaine avec celle des animaux
by Louis-Jean-Marie Morel d'Arleux
originally published in 1806

"After the publication of Descartes's Passions of the Soul (1649), Le Brun spoke to the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture on several occasions in 1668 on the subject of General Expression and the Expression of Passions. He illustrated his lectures with a series of drawings in which he used horizontal lines to demonstrate the distortions of the human face (face-on and in profile) under the influence of various emotions. In 1671, he gave a new lecture on physiognomy, the original of which is lost; we know of a summary by Nivelon, digests by Testelin (1696) and E. Picart (1698), and a "dissertation" by Morel d’Arleux, printed as the introduction to his 1806 edition of Le Brun's plates. Le Brun addressed four specific points: the features of famous men of Antiquity and the relationship between their facial features and their personalities; human features compared to those of animals; the eyes and the eyebrows; and finally the human brain. "  - Louvre Museum

Giambattista della Porta (1535–1615)


The Book of Life: The Spiritual and Physical Constitution of Man
published in 1912 and reprinted in 2004
A culmination of discoveries from 1859 to 1884.
by Arthur E. Merton, aka Dr. Alesha Sivartha (1834-1915)
"The Human Race has been marching upwards from the first ages of history. Under what law has that might procession of the ages taken place? Science and history both answer that man has advanced step by step, from the ignorant and selfish rule of his lower brain organs up toward the beneficent dominion of his higher faculties.  The laws which have controlled that vast upward movement are still in force. They are fixed in the very constitution of man. And they are of supreme importance at the present time, for they determine what new institutions and what social changes are now required to meet that higher growth of nations."

Website by the great-great-grandson of Sivartha, of which has all the illustrations:


Vaught's Practical Character Reader
by L.A. Vaught
Chicago Institute of Phrenology

From the Introduction:
Human character is the same as human nature in its last analysis.  Human nature is composed of elements that are unchangeable in their nature and the same the world over.  At least forty-two of these elements are now know.  Individual character is a particular combination of these elements in which some lead or predominate.
  To read character, then, is to understand these elements and determine their individual and relative strength in men, women, and children.  This can be done. Heads, faces and bodies tell the story.

The 42 elements of Human Nature:
Amativeness, Conjugality, Parental Love, Friendship, Inhabitiveness, Continuity, Vitativeness, Combativeness, Destructiveness, Alimentiveness, Acquisitiveness, Secretiveness, Cautiousness, Approbativeness, Self-esteem, Firmness, Conscientiousness, Hope, Spirituality, Veneration, Benevolence, Constructiveness, Ideality, Sublimity, Imitation, Mirthfulness, Individuality, Form, Size, Weight, Color, Order, Number, Locality, Eventuallity, Time, Language, Causality, Comparison, Human Nature, Suavity


An empty Frame Card from
the 1930's card game,

"The game is not to be likened in any way to a jig-saw puzzle.  It is definite character analysis by use of real photographic reproductions, invented by Jacques Penry, the Author of Character from the Face(published by Hutchinson) and contributions to the Sunday Express.

The object of the game is not merely the piecing together of features-but the building of faces, the features of which are consistent with each other.  The eyes, nose, mouth, ect., must not, in its respective "character," conflict with any other feature.

For instance, on a pleasant, smiling face would be found twinkling eyes, with the lower rim or lid drawn up almost half-way over the eyeball.  The mouth would have turned corners.  With this particular face, any well-proportioned nose could be used. It would be a mistake to use, in connection with smiling eyes, a straight, thin, lipped mouth, or one with down-turned corners.
The playing cards consist of 13 kinds of eyes, 13 noses, 13 mouths, and 13 type cards.  From these the player may build any one of 13 types of facial character."

The 13 type cards are titled as follows:
Suave-Obsequious, Dissipated, Crafty-Self-Centered, Artistic-Imagnative, Pleasant-Cheerful, Self Conscious, Magnetic, Determined, Excitable-Impetuous, Narrow Minded-Stubborn, Bad Tempered, Acquisitive-Shrewd

Players pull from the deck of cards and try and form the character from their chosen type card.
When this is done they call "PHYSOG" 
Players then display their filled in frame cards and are scored based on the Key Book that adds up the facial cards that were used by the players for their character.

View the full game and rules here:

Harper’s Bazaar 1961

Cropped image from an ad in Whisper magazine- June 1956

-at a cost to you of little more than 3cents each.
"We send you 32 different cutouts of hair-do's created by world-famous stylists. You simply place each cutout on your head, like a crown. Instantly, your mirror tells you which hair-do is loveliest for YOU! And that isn't all! The Hollywood Hair-Do Cutouts come in beautiful, vivid color so that you may see yourself as a Redhead, Blonde, or Brunette."
-from the collections of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University


George L. Fox (1825-1877)
America's first whiteface clown.
 Famous for his character, Humpty Dumpty, which he created in 1867.
He was known for his pantomime slapstick and topical satire.
During his 1,128th performance as Humpty Dumpty , Fox had to be removed from the stage at Richmond, Indiana's Phillips Opera House. He was put in an insane asylum and ultimately died of poisoning from his lead based white make-up.
It wasn't until 1920 that Max Factor came out with a lead-free 'Safety Clown White'.


Ekoi helmet mask

An Ekoi wood and skin helmet mask, in the form of a wood structure with skin stretched tautly across it and secured in place with wood pegs, one side in the form of a grotesque large male human head, the skin darkened, with a ridge down the forehead, three raised bosses to either side of the pierced eyes, with semi-circular lug ears, the grinning mouth slightly open and with pointed bone inset teeth, the other side of the mask in the form of two smaller female human heads, each face lighter in shade than the male face, with raised darkened areas representing cicatrisation marks on the foreheads and besides the eyes, with protruding darkened lips and metal inset teeth representing the coiffure (only a few remaining) the whole surmounted by a conical projection, originally with wood peg insets 18 in (46 cm).
Sotheby catalog 15.7.1975
Rethinking Pitt-Rivers | Possible Pitt-Rivers' second collection artefacts 2

Monte Albán I, Zapotec Urn

1925 photograph of the Taung Child skull and endocast.

The Taung Child (also known as the Taung Baby) estimated to be 2.5 million years old, is the name given to a Australopithecus africanus skull fossil that was discovered in a limestone quarry near Taung, South Africa in 1924. The skull, along with a crate of other fossils, made its way to Raymond Arthur Dart.  Among the fossils in the crate, Dart found an endocast that matched up with the Taung skull. and published the findings, described as a new species of Australopithecus, in the science journal Nature. It was subsequently dismissed at the time by the science community as just a young gorilla and not a "missing link" in the human evolution trail because the current belief in the "Piltdown Man".
  It would take a couple of decades before the Taung Child was fully accepted and that Africa was considered a major location of the "dawn of man";  an early evolutionary source for humankind.  
  The endocast of the 3 year old Taung Child shows that the brain had an unfused metopic suture, which occurs in human babies but fuses in post-natal great apes. It is suggested that this has ocured in humans because of a reorginization of the birth canal due to bipedalism. Also, the foramen magnum (the hole in witch the spinal cord enters the skull) is positioned toward the front of the skull, which is associated with walking upright. 

The Smithsonian human origins website states:
"The Taung Child is thought have been attacked and killed by an eagle. Scientists suspect an eagle killed the Taung Child because puncture marks were found at the bottom of the 3-year-old’s eye sockets (see close-up photo below). These marks resemble those made by a modern eagle’s sharp talons and beak when they attack monkeys in Africa today. Other evidence for the eagle kill hypothesis includes the presence of eggshells at the site and an unusual mixture of animals bones found alongside the Taung Child’s skull. Most of the bones found are from small animals (including hyrax, rodents, tortoises, lizards, crabs, small antelopes, and small baboons), which is uncommon compared with animal bones at other early human sites. Many of these small animal bones also have damage resembling that made by modern birds of prey."


Victorian trick photography postcards.