Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games

Amuse your Friends with this Antique Phrenologist's Bust

June 27, 2013



This splendid artifact has just arrived at the Honey Residence. It's an original antique Phrenologist's bust by the Victorian quack, Lorenzo Niles Fowler. Phrenologists believed that you could discover a person's true identity by feeling the bumps on his or her skull. If you look carefully at the bust you will see that the cranium is divided up into various sections which represent all manner of things: foresight, blandness, hope, integrity, dignity, self-love, friendship, independence; that sort of thing. Think of a virtue- or a fault, and I bet you it's there somewhere. Not that I want to denigrate the noble art (or science?) of phrenology. It's a lovely idea, and who knows, it might just, possibly, on a sunny day, be true. Up to a point Lord Copper.



These busts were desperately fashionable during the Swinging Sixties, and I seem to remember that David Hicks had one at his Oxfordshire house, Britwell. And they often graced the sets of television programmes such as The Avengers and The Prisoner. It was almost the case of "Let's Spot the Phrenologist's Head".



Don't confuse this head with all those reproductions out there, the ones that you can pick up in the market for a song. This head is the genuine thing, and relatively scarce at that, especially as it dates from the pre-1860's, when Lorenzo Fowler was working out of his publisher's office at no. 337, Strand, London. It's of a much better quality than the repros, too, with a finer detailing. 



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