Friday, December 9, 2016

Celebrity Catalogers

Black and white photo of Richard Owen wearing and academic robe and holding his hand on an animal skull. Owen is balding, hollow cheeked, and has a stern expression on his face.Picture People Magazine in the 19th century... then banish that image from your mind as quickly as you can and take a look at Photographic Portraits of Living Celebrities (London: Maull & Polyblank, 1856-9). There are no glam shots here, and no airbrushed beauty graces these pages. The collection of photographs with biographic sketches tends toward the academic and political. There are a few names you might recognize on the list like Faraday or Cruikshank but for the most part these are not the folks we think of as celebrities today.

Pictured here is Richard Owen, striking a very goth pose with what looks like a crocodile skull. Owen had many accomplishments, but his primary claim to fame was a thirty-year stint as the cataloger of the anatomical collection of the Royal College of Surgeons. He gives us hope that someday rare book catalogers will be all the rage. Or, perhaps our time has passed...

To take a look, ask for Rare TR681.F3 M285 1859.

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