Friday, December 31, 2010

Tick… Tick… Tick…

As the last hours of 2010 elapse, let’s look forwards to the new year. January is always significant for a repository that holds archive material: each new year brings the opening of new material to the public, material that was already catalogued but could not be made available because of its sensitivity. This is doubly significant for the Wellcome Library, of course, as we hold a large amount of material relating to the medical issues of named individuals, and this is a category of material that the UK’s Data Protection Act highlights as particularly sensitive and in need of careful handling. (Our access policy, setting out how we deal with this material and the demands placed by legislation, can be seen on our website at see the first bullet point under Access.)

Full details of the material newly-opened, of course, will have to wait until the new year! For the moment, although we cannot open the files for you, we can list the materials whose closure expires at midnight. Chief among them are papers from Churchill’s personal physician, Lord Moran; files on various rare conditions collected by the physician Donald Hunter during his many years at the Royal London Hospital; files on recipients of the Beit Memorial Fellowship; ledgers from two mental hospitals, the Holloway Sanatorium in Egham and Ticehurst House in Sussex; and some staff records from the Wellcome Foundation. The full list is below. Only a little while to go…

Lord Moran papers
PP/CMW/D.1/2: Minutes, 2nd-4th meeting, 22 Jul, 29-30 Dec 1949 and 17-18 Jan 1950; 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.1/3: Agendas and minutes, 5th-13th meeting; Jan-Dec 1950.
PP/CMW/D.2/1: Official lists of consultants and proposed awards (papers A3-A7, A12-A16); Jan-Feb 1950; Also lists of regional hospital boards, chairmen of medical committees of teaching hospitals and notes on grading of specialists.
PP/CMW/D.2/2: Further official lists of doctors and recommended awards with associated documents (papers A21-24, A28-29, A31-33); Feb-Mar 1950.
PP/CMW/D.2/3: Review of the Committee's Work up to June 1950' (Paper A35); Jun-50.
PP/CMW/D.6/1/2: Lists for London regions, some headed 'not on photostat list', surgeons (carbon typescript) with covering letter to selectors Jan 1950, paediatricians (carbon typescript), general medicine (carbon typescript), lists of surgeons (pencil manuscript, not Moran); c.1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2: Schedules of consultants listed by speciality for Professional Assessment Committee; c.1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2/1: South East metropolitan region, with recommendations; c.1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2/2: South West metropolitan region, annotated by Moran with recommended grades; 1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2/3: North West metropolitan region, Supplementary list, annotated by Moran with recommended grades; 1950. .
PP/CMW/D.6/3: 'Results of 1950 Voting'. Manuscript lists, annotated by Moran, for Birmingham, Bristol, East Anglia, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, Wales and London regions; 1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/4: Surgeons. Lists of recommendations by Association of Surgeons and Royal College of Surgeons; 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/5: Whole-time clinical teachers. Lists and manuscript notes by Moran; 1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1: 1950 (?) Awards; 1945-1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1/1: Bristol, Sheffield, North East, North West, South East Metropolitan Regions, Association of Surgeons (with partial index); 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1/2: London Teaching Hospitals (with index); 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1/3: 'Faculties', Anaesthetics, ENT, Orthopaedics, Radiology, Ophthalmology, Royal College of Surgeons and Royal College of Physicians recommendations. All areas; 1945-1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/1/1: Casablanca (1st Version, with Sir Desmond MacCarthy's comments), covering Jan-Feb 1943; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/1/2: Untitled typescript, with Desmond MacCarthy's comments, covering Feb-Oct 1943; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/1/3: Red Twinlock, revised version of Casablanca by CMW with comments and annotations by CMW, John Wilson and others. Covering Dec 1941-Feb 1945; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/5/1: Mr Churchill's fall from Power, '1st typing, with Sir Desmond MacCarthy's comments'. Period covered Feb 1945-Dec 1947; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.6/1/1: 'Mr Churchill's Fall from Power' (1945 period); c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.6/2: Early revisions of war-time volumes; c.1949-1950.

Donald Hunter papers
PP/HUN/C/1/2: Acromegaly; 1923-1937.
PP/HUN/C/1/16: Chloroma; 1913.
PP/HUN/C/1/38: Grave's disease; 1928-1929.
PP/HUN/C/1/66: Pigmentations; 1919-1937.

Beit Memorial Fellowships
SA/BMF/A.2/102 : Lythgoe, Richard James; 1926.
SA/BMF/A.2/103 : Burnet, Macfarlane Frank; 1926.
SA/BMF/A.2/104 : Frew, John Glover Hugo; 1926.
SA/BMF/A.2/105 : Goldblatt, Maurice Walter; 1926.
SA/BMF/A.2/107 : Stephens, John Gower; 1926.
SA/BMF/A.2/108 : Woolf, Barnet; 1926.

Mental After Care Association
SA/MAC/G.2/6: Case Agenda Books; Jul 1925-Dec 1926.

Wellcome Foundation records
WF/CA/07: Staff Index Cards; c1898-c1933; Contents of six wooden filing drawers, originating from a larger series, containing staff index cards, arranged alphabetically by surname. Cards record: name, staff number, age and date of birth, start and leave date, reasons for leaving, department and wages. These cards refer to staff overseas as well as in the UK and include staff at WPRL.
WF/CA/07/01: Brown - Carnay; c1898 - c1933.
WF/CA/07/02: Carnay - Cook; c1898 - c1933.
WF/CA/07/03: Cooke - Cooper; Hasleden - Hopkins; c1898 - c1933.
WF/CA/07/04: Horley - Huckstep; Hum - Judges; c1898 - c1933.
WF/CA/07/01/05: Judson - Ken[?y]ie; c1898 - c1933.
WF/CA/07/06: Mee - Narayen; c1898 - c1933.
WF/CA/07/07: Nash - Noye; Oakes - Pearson; c1898 - c1933.

Holloway Sanatorium
MS.5161: Females no. 28: Certified female patients admitted November 1924-October 1926; 1924-1926; Notes mainly by Elizabeth Casson and C Rutherford.

Ticehurst House
MS.6277: Medical journal; 1905-1910.

Image: detail from a computer graphic by Rowena Dugdale, depicting costs of long-term care: from Wellcome Images.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wellcome's Christmas Gifts

Every Christmas from the 1890s until 1914, Henry Wellcome gave a book to the employees of his pharmaceutical business, Burroughs Wellcome and Co. As some of these titles remain in the Library's collections, we wondered if they would shed some light on Henry and his feelings towards his staff, as well as attitudes of employers in Victorian and Edwardian times more generally.

Among the titles, there's some fiction, a little poetry, numerous biographical works and at least one compendium. Most of the titles were popular at the time, but not all of them are remembered in the 21st century. A clear theme from the titles is that of self-improvement and utility. Through examples of self-made men promoting the virtues of hard work, Wellcome was not only giving role models to his staff, but also commenting on his own journey from impoverished childhood in rural America to wealth and success in London. A journey made through sheer hard work.

For example, in 1907 Wellcome gave as his Christmas book Samuel Smiles's Life and Labour (1887). One of the bestselling authors of the late Victorian period, Smiles advocated social advancement through the virtuous acts of hard work, thrift and sobriety. He can even be seen as the forerunner of the various self-help guides you find today. Even in Wellcome's gift of 1911 – Cassell's Book of Sports and Pastimes - there is a sense of practicality. This title was full of advice on making, mending and healthy pursuits, which suggested to the staff as they unwrapped their gifts that even their spare time should be spent in a useful, practical manner.

Another clear theme in Wellcome's choices is his growing interest in Africa. By 1914, he had not only opened the groundbreaking Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratory in Khartoum but also carried out extensive archaeological excavations in Sudan (both activities he felt had practical philanthropic benefits to the local populations).

This interest in Africa comes through in his 1914 gift, The Autobiography of Sir Henry Stanley, edited by Dorothy Stanley (Henry Stanley the journalist and explorer - another self-made man - was a close friend of Wellcome's). It's also evident in two other choices from the 1890s: Fire & Sword in the Sudan and With Kitchener to Khartoum - two titles on the British Army's derring-do in Sudan in the late 19th century.

Of the more famous works of literature Wellcome gave, Henry Longfellow's romanticised poem of Native American life, The Song of Haiwatha, is suggestive of Wellcome's childhood in rural Minnesota, growing up close to the Sioux. His choice of Gulliver's Travels is more intriguing: perhaps Wellcome saw in Gulliver's adventures a lone individual pulling himself through against difficult odds?

So, Henry Wellcome's choice of gift does offer a degree of insight into his interests and attitudes, and also how he wished to be perceived. His selections are very much of their time - as are, however, his thoughts on his staff. In 1910, Wellcome chose Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle. But he chose it for male employees. Women received copies of the Encyclopaedia of Needlework.

(A version of this post also appeared in the most recent edition of Wellcome News).

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The Wellcome Library closes today for the festive period at 5pm and re-opens at 10am on Tuesday 4th January 2011.

We would just like to take this opportunity to wish all Library readers and followers of this Blog, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Image: A Christmas entertainment, presented in sign language for the deaf and dumb, at the Hanover Square rooms, London (Wellcome Library no. 17959i)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The deep freeze

If your extremities feel like icicles right now, shudder at the chilly prospect faced back in 2004 by Francis Crick (who co-discovered the structure of DNA, in case you have forgotten).

Three months before he died in July 2004, Francis Crick was invited by ALCOR Life Extension Foundation to take part in a collaborative scientific experiment after his death:

'Cryonics is the developing (although admittedly speculative) science of preserving your brain and body pattern down to the molecular level in hopes a future technology will have the means/mechanism to 'resuscitate' you.’

According to ALCOR’s website, ‘If a brain can be preserved well enough to retain the memory and personality within it, then restoring health to the whole person is viewed as a long-term engineering problem’. Worryingly though, Crick’s correspondent admits that 'You and your research staff no doubt know this in greater technical detail than I'.

Other high profile candidates for the procedure apparently included Arthur C. Clarke and William Shatner. But Crick obviously shared the view of the cryobiologist Dr. Arthur Rowe that ‘Believing cryonics could reanimate somebody who has been frozen is like believing you can turn hamburger back into a cow.’

Despite such select company in the freezer and a generous offer to waive the $120,000 fee in return for public enhancement of ALCOR’s credibility and scientific reputation, the invitation was left to languish in a file titled 'Ignore per Dr Crick's Instructions'.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A remarkable man

We recently received, from his granddaughter's executor, a couple of manuscripts of Colonel Frederick Smith (1858-1933) of the Royal Army Medical Corps. When cataloguing these, and turning to the usual sources of reference for information on his career, I discovered that Col. Smith had had a most remarkable career. He had enlisted in the ranks of the Medical Service Corps at a time when it was not expected that this would lead eventually to an officer's commission. After serving all over the Empire, Smith was posted to Dublin, where he was able to pursue medical studies, alongside his arduous official duties, as well as managing to spend time with his growing family. On his receiving the Licentiates of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of Ireland, the War Office was petitioned to grant him a commission.
As a Surgeon on probation he was sent to the Army Medical School at Netley, where he not only passed the relevant courses, but achieved the Herbert Prize for the best man of the year. In 1890, aged 32, having already served over a dozen years in the ranks, he was commissioned Surgeon-Captain.
He was then posted to the Far East for several years, spent some time working with Sir Almroth Wright in the Bacteriological Laboratory at Netley, and in 1898 was sent to Sierra Leone in West Africa. This was already known, because of its climate and local diseases, as 'the white man's grave', and was about to erupt into what was known as the Sierra Leone Rising or Hut Tax Rebellion against the imposition of exorbitant taxes on dwellings and demands for labour on public works by the authorities of the newly established British Protectorate.
Smith's experiences in Sierra Leone formed the basis for the fictional work of which we now hold a draft (MS.8701/1) plus an edited clean typescript version prepared by his granddaughter, Jean Overton Fuller MS.8701/2), "Yemma: a Story of ‘The White Man’s Grave’ in ’98" (alternative title "Jungle Savage"). Although he published very extensively on medical research, questions of hygiene, and administrative questions to do with military medicine, Fuller suggested in the foreword to her edited version that 'he had not the technique of writing fiction', and this, as well as its '"advanced" and shocking' nature was the reason why the narrative was never published.
His career took him to South Africa during the years of conflict there. Much of his work involved sanitation - he returned to West Africa as Sanitary Officer to the forces there and served as Divisional Sanitary Officer on the North West Frontier of India.
His distinctions for involvement in military campaigns included the Mendiland expedition medal and clasp for his service in Sierra Leone; mention in dispatches, Queen's medal with four clasps, and the D.S.O. for the Boer War; medal with clasp for service in the Mohmand campaign on the North-West Frontier of India of 1908; and in the war of 1914-18, he was four times mentioned in dispatches, received the C.M.G. in 1917 and the C.B. in 1918. Awards for his work in research, which covered a very wide range of subjects, included the Parkes memorial medal and prize twice, in 1897 and in 1907; the Alexander memorial gold medal twice, in 1903 and1906; and the Enno-Sandes gold medal of the United States in 1903.
Recalled to duty in 1914 on the outbreak of the First World War, Smith was appointed to the command of No. 4 General Hospital in France. The adventures and misadventures in setting up and administering what was intended to be a 'Stationary' Hospital are recounted in "Bloodless Adventures of Colonel Xerxes Wilson, RAMC at the Back of the Front in the Opening Months of the Great War" (MS.8701/3), which is indicated to be a pseudonymous account of Smith's actual experiences.
MS.8701 is not the only material we have illustrating the life, career and opinions of this remarkable man: the RAMC Muniment Collection includes his scrapbook (RAMC/404), a file of miscellaneous papers relating to his activities (RAMC/501), and a copy of his respected work on Modern bullet wounds and modern treatment, with special regard to long bones and joints, field appliances and first aid (1903) (RAMC/713). An obituary may be found in the British Medical Journal for 1933, and an affectionate biographical memoir by Jean Overton Fuller is appended to her edited version of "Yemma". There is also an entry in Peterkin, Johnston and Drew, Commissioned officers in the medical services of the British Army, 1660-1960 Vol 1, no. 7291.

Christmas advice from Frank Rowntree

Francis St. D. Rowntree 1928-1996, aka Frank Rowntree, received an OBE in 1986 for his services to public health. During the 1970s, he was the Health Education Officer for Sheffield and in this capacity he was invited into the Walk Right in Studio at BBC Radio Sheffield for a regular weekly health spot where he gave his measured and pithy advice (usually in around 3 minutes) on many of the health issues of the time. Some of the advice may only resonate with the over 40s -such as the clacker craze which resulted in a new kind of illness described as 'clacker wrist'. Also tackled was the mystery of women’s menstrual cycles relating to mood swings and especially driving. He exhorts men to be more sympathetic and think themselves lucky that they do not have this cyclic phenomenon.

All the 106 broadcasts were donated by Rowntree’s family, originate on ¼” audio reels, have been digitised and made available online via the library’s Wellcome Film resource with permission from BBC Radio Sheffield. The audio recordings appear to have been made by Rowntree himself as a record of his broadcast activity with the majority of the recordings dating from 1972 and 1973.

There are a number of festive topics to which Frank Rowntree regularly returned. The first is a health and safety message to parents in the selection of appropriate toys for their children, which Rowntree talks about with campaigning zeal. There are three broadcasts on this topic. Suitability is key, he warns against highly inflammable toys and asks parents after Christmas to dispose of toys if broken or damaged.

Another seasonal topic discussed on air is keeping warm. Rowntree talks about the susceptibility of new babies to the cold. In 1973 Rowntree broadcasts about keeping warm in the light of the prevailing power cuts. He talks about appropriate clothing in winter such as “snuggies” (described as warm winter drawers or knickers). He recommends that a good breakfast is key to keeping you going through the day. Perhaps it is just as well that the practice of using hot bricks to warm up beds has fallen into dis-use…

Lastly, as it is the season of Christmas excess, Rowntree does not want to be a 'dismal Jimmy' and enjoys a drink and all the Christmas fare. In typical fashion, he asks for common sense and moderation.

The Moving Image & Sound Collection sends seasonal wishes to all (in moderation).

Author: Angela Saward

Image: 1970s Christmas, © This image is copyright djwhelan’s photostream and is licensed under this Creative Commons licence.

Monday, December 20, 2010

'The Beauty of Diagrams'

On 16th December, BBC4 broadcast the most recent episode of their series The Beauty of Diagrams, in which mathematician Marcus du Sautoy explores the stories behind some of the world's most familiar and influential scientific diagrams.

The latest featured diagram was the DNA double helix - one of the most replicated scientific images of the twentieth century. The programme examined the rich symbolism of the double helix and also featured a sequence shot in the Wellcome Library with Prof du Sautoy examining our early sketch of the double helix from the papers of Francis Crick.

The episode is available for viewers in the UK through the BBC iPlayer, along with the rest of the series - including programmes on Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man and Florence Nightingale's 'Rose Diagram' - until 30th December.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Wellcome Library – A Picture Researcher’s Point of View

One of our Historical Picture Researchers, Rachael Johnson, is leaving the Wellcome Library for pastures new. Before she departs, she's offered us an insight into a typical day in Wellcome Images...

Wellcome Images researchers currently supply around 3,000 digital images every month to a wide client base, from academic scholars and lecturers to newspapers, book publishers, television and even design companies. No two days at Wellcome Images are ever the same, but here are some of the things we find ourselves researching.

I’m at my desk (with a cup of tea) by 9.30am and can begin by going through the email enquiries. On an average day, most are from academics requesting permission to use Wellcome Images pictures as part of their journal article, monograph or scholarly publication. I ascertain whether these clients are requesting contemporary biomedical material (which we hold as part of our contributor collections), or historical images, photographed in-house from items held in the Wellcome Library.

As well as the academic orders, we also receive numerous email requests from commercial companies, wanting to publish or broadcast our pictures. Although we are happy for academic clients to use many of our images free of charge, we do charge reproduction fees to commercial clients. A recent example is our collaboration with a Japanese TV company, who want to broadcast three of our images showing Jenner and his first vaccination. It’s enjoyable working with broadcasting companies, as we often get to see our images ‘in action’ in popular programmes including the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?, The Great British Bake-Off and Victorian Pharmacy. We have recently been approached by two production teams working on upcoming feature films, wanting to use some of our images as set dressing: unfortunately the titles of both films are still a closely guarded secret, but do watch this space for more information once they hit the cinemas. One of the most unusual recent uses of our pictures was as part of the Grolsch beer website, illustrating a timeline of historical (non-beer related) events.

We always ask clients using our images in publications to send us a copy: we have recently featured on the cover of the Annals of Royal College of Surgeons, as well as History Today magazine.

We receive a steady stream of picture requests via the Wellcome Trust Press Office. As Wellcome Images hold pictures of all of the gallery exhibits in Wellcome Collection, we are frequently asked for images by publications such as What’s On and Time Out, so that they can entice their readers into our exhibitions with interesting pictures (including the image below, recently used in our recent Skin exhibition).
We receive a daily trolley delivery of items and requests from readers within the Wellcome Library. As we have an in-house studio and photographer, we can accommodate most requests for new photography, from miniature portraits to manuscripts and rare books. The most unusual item that I have ever asked to be photographed was an oil painting of the First World War, measuring almost 4 ½ metres square, which had to be photographed from above as it lay on the floor. As soon as any new photography has been completed, we catalogue the pictures and add them to our Wellcome Images website.

Although most of our clients have already seen the pictures they would like to order, we do also receive many speculative requests, where clients contact us in the hope that we can find them something rare, unusual or (in some cases) even impossible. I try to save these more involved requests for the afternoon, after I’ve been fortified with an excellent Wellcome Trust lunch.

A recent request came through for a selection of pictures showing the history of childbirth, for a publishing client. This involved searching through illustrations of birthing instruments, such as forceps, midwifery through the ages, foetal development and of course, labour itself. By the end of the day I have successfully found 53 great images for my birthing client and another 20 for a television documentary on the Plague.

The day normally ends at about 5.30pm, (unless I receive a telephone call from one of the national newspapers, who always seem to phone with an urgent request at 5.29) and I can head home, wondering what I’ll be searching for tomorrow.

1/'Wound Man', MS. 290
2/ Front cover of History Today (featuring image of William Price of Llantrisant (1800-1893) MRCS, LSA, medical practitioner, in druidic costume, with goats, Wellcome Library no. 45771i), May 2009.
3/ Rubber beauty masks, worn to remove wrinkles and blemishes (Wellcome Library no. 565924i)
4/ A birth-scene. Oil painting by a French (?) painter, Åbo, Sweden (later Turku, Finland), 1800 (Wellcome Library no. 4469i).

Author: Rachael Johnson

Gold, frankincense and myrrh

Everyone who has heard the Nativity story will know that the newborn baby Jesus was given gold, frankincense and myrrh by the fabled Three Wise Men. But what do these substances look like, and do they have real medicinal properties?

You’ll recognise gold. Shiny and lustrous, it’s been used in jewellery and decorative arts for millennia throughout the world. The Alexandrian Egyptians believed that gold was the “fountain of youth”, for surely something that glowed so beautifully was innate with health. In medieval times gold was used as a healing remedy and, although the properties assigned to it then were more “magical” than medical, gold is used in many forms of modern medicine.

Gold nanoparticles are used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. When coated with a cancer antibody they are effective at binding to tumour cells. When bound to the gold, the tumour cells scatter light, making it very easy to identify the non-cancerous cells from the cancerous ones. The particles shown in this transmission electron micrograph are just 10-90 nanometres across.

Injections of gold salts are used to treat arthritis, and gold alloys are used in dentistry. Gold is used in medical imaging too, to coat a sample before it goes into a scanning electron microscope, a procedure that has been used to created many of Wellcome Images’ scanning electron micrographs.

Frankincense and myrrh have also been used in medicine throughout history, and are now being investigated by scientists to see if they are effective at treating disease.

Myrrh is the resin produced by Commiphora trees when the bark is attacked and the resulting wound reaches the sapwood. It has been valued since ancient times for its perfume and wound healing qualities, due to its antiseptic and anaesthetic properties. Myrrh is named for its bitter taste, so any oral remedies using the resin would have tasted quite unpleasant. The Ancient Egyptians used myrrh as the principal ingredient when embalming mummies. In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, it is used for rheumatic and circulatory conditions.

Myrrh is used by many diabetics in Arabic countries to lower blood sugar, although no human studies have proved how effective this treatment is. Bilharzia, a tropical parasitic worm infection, has been treated with a marketed version of myrrh since 2001, although a review of this showed the efficacy of the cure to be low.[1]

Frankincense comes from Boswellia trees. It is a resin like myrrh, and is called ruxiang in Chinese medicine. The name, meaning “nipple-shaped flower”, was first mentioned in Chinese medicine texts around 500 AD. This woodcut from the 19th century Yanhou miji, or Collected Secrets of Laryngology, illustrates an abcess of the throat that is treated with a traditional Chinese medicine six-flower concoction containing ruxiang.

Frankincense looks more promising as a modern medicine than myrrh. A systematic review of the use of frankincense to treat conditions including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease concluded that the results of clinical trials were “encouraging” (though not “compelling”)[2]. Compounds extracted from frankincense have shown anti-inflammatory properties in clinical trials[3] as well as anti-depressive effects in mice[4], so the modern therapeutic potential of frankincense might be fully realised in future years.

[1] Barakat R et al. Efficacy of myrrh in the treatment of human Schistosomiasis mansoni. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2005 Aug;73(2):365-7. Online here.

[2] E Ernst. Frankincense: systematic review. BMJ 2008;337:a2813. Online here.

[3] Moussaieff A, Mechoulam R. Boswellia resin: from religious ceremonies to medical uses; a review of in-vitro, in-vivo and clinical trials. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2009 Oct;61(10):1281-93. Online here.

[4] Moussaieff A. et al. Incensole acetate, an incense component, elicits psychoactivity by activating TRPV3 channels in the brain. FASEB J. 2008 Aug;22(8):3024-34. Epub 2008 May 20. PubMed link

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Watercolours from Waterloo: Charles Bell paintings to go on loan

“Johnnie! How can we let this pass? Here is such an occasion of seeing gun-shot wounds come to our very door. Let us go!”

These were the words of the Scottish surgeon, anatomist and neurologist Charles Bell to his brother-in-law on hearing news of the Battle of Waterloo.

Leaving for Belgium on 26 June 1815, Bell took with him his surgical instruments and a sketchbook, in which he could document the injuries he witnessed and tended to. In 1836, he turned his sketches into a series of stunning watercolours, which are on deposit at the Wellcome Library from the [Royal] Army Medical Services Museum. Four of these watercolours are to go on loan to the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bonn for a major exhibition, 'Napoleon und Europa: Traum und Trauma' ('Napoleon and Europe: Dream and Trauma'), which will run from 17 December 2010 to 25 April 2011.

The watercolours provide us with a graphic representation of the dreadful injuries suffered by soldiers fighting at Waterloo. The images of missing arms, protruding intestines and gaping wounds to the chest and neck - together with the pained expressions on the soldiers' faces - all convey the horror of the scenes witnessed by Bell and other surgeons in the battlefield hospitals.

Bell wrote descriptions to accompany his paintings. For one, of a soldier suffering from a head wound, he noted:

"...On the fifth day after the battle was insensible. A portion of the frontal bone, an inch in diameter, was found driven into the brain, and it stood perpendicularly; not possible to extract it, from its being firmly wedged. Trepanning performed. Quite insensible during the operation and showed no sensibility until on the next day, being bled, he shrank….On the removal of the bone a quantity of blood and brain came out, and coagulum was scooped out from betwixt the skull and dura mater. Three days after the operation he became more sensible, and has been improving."

Although the eventual fate of the soldier described above is not known, it seems that he may have fared better than most of Bell's other patients. At Waterloo, the mortality rate of amputations carried out by Bell ran at approximately 90 per cent - a high figure even for the 1800s. Bell went on to have a successful career, however; he was given a knighthood in 1831 and even lent his name to the medical condition of Bell's Palsy, which he described in 1821. These watercolours are yet another string to this prolific and influential man's bow.

Image: Gunshot fracture of skull, Wanstell, Caserne Elizabeth (RAMC/95/4)

'Napoleon und Europa: Traum und Trauma' ('Napoleon and Europe: Dream and Trauma'), Kunst- und Ausstellungshalleder Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, 17 December - 25 April 2011.

Authors: Rowan de Saulles and Helen Wakely

Archives and Manuscripts cataloguing statistics: November 2010

This month's cataloguing statistics for archives and manuscripts, like last month's, are dominated by two major groups of archive records. (New cataloguing accounts for all the records added to the database, although behind the scenes retroconversion work continues on the catalogue of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (SA/CSP).)

The first of our new cataloguing highlights is the archive of Henry V. Dicks (1900-1977), psychiatrist (PP/HVD). Dicks’s papers cover two highly contentious topics: sex and fascism. In the aftermath of the Second World War Dicks interviewed many former Nazis as part of research into questions about authoritarian psychology and collective psychopathology. Later, his work at the Tavistock Institute centred on marital dysfunction and the couple as a unit of therapy. His papers comprise 14 boxes and are described in more detail in a recent blog posting.

Our second highlight relates to the archive of Action on Smoking and Health (SA/ASH), or ASH, which has been held at the Wellcome Library since the early 1990s. The organisation is still an active one and thus, of course, generates new material for the archive: recent transfers have now been catalogued and the result is a doubling in size of the collection, now comprising 167 boxes and including material up to the early 21st century. The new material documents a period when the tobacco industry was very much on the defensive, striking back against attempts to restrict its advertising and sponsorship activities. Again, a recent blog posting describes the additions in more detail.

A third highlight relates not so much to new content for the archives database, as to what one can do with that content. Library users will be aware that archive and manuscript material is ordered online using the same system (the same reader's ticket, the same password, and the same interface) as one uses to order books from the stacks. In order to make this happen, periodic movements of data between the two databases have to happen: item-level records - those records that relate to an actual file or volume that can be consulted in the reading room as opposed to records from higher in the hierarchy that represent bigger intellectual groupings - have to be harvested from the archive database, converted to the appropriate printed-matter standard and loaded to the main catalogue. Our last harvest took place on either side of the final weekend in November, and moved over 14,000 new records into the main catalogue, making it possible to order much recently-catalogued or recently-retroconverted material. Collections affected include the papers of Sir Ernest Chain (PP/EBC), Alice Stewart (PP/AMS), the MRC Blood Group Unit (SA/BGU) and many others set out in recent cataloguing bulletins (see October, September and August for some recent examples).

Image: a montage of items from the archives of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), supplied by Wellcome Images.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Christmas Rose

'Bright as the silvery plume, or pearly shell,
The snow-white rose, or lily's virgin bell,
The fair HELLEBORAS attractive shone,
Warm'd every Sage, and every Shepherd won.'

With winter closed about us and the last leaves of autumn lost to the four winds, we may look in vain in our parks and gardens for a flower to raise our spirits amid the cold and gloom. That is, were it not for Helleborus niger, or the Christmas rose, which opens its petals in December and continues to bloom throughout the winter months.

A legend tells that the Christmas rose was so named after it flowered in Bethlehem when Jesus was born, watered by the tears of a child with no offering to make. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), physician, natural philosopher, and author of the above lines of verse, was less concerned with such pious tales. When he wrote of the flower in The Loves of the Plants (1789) – a poem extolling the new Linnaean system of taxonomy – it was the great scientific advances of his age that spurred his poetic vision.

Just as discoveries in astronomy and geology were providing evidence of the long duration of time, so Linnaean taxonomy allowed the relationships between the great diversity of species, both plant and animal, to be traced. Sex was the descriptive tool for flowering plants, classified by the stamen and further ordered by the structure of the pistil. Though this was felt by some to be embarrassing, and even scandalous, Darwin revelled in the poetic possibilities such an approach offered.

With light, ironic couplets, he created vivid scenes to illustrate the many strategies of plant reproduction, transforming flowers into beings engaged in dramas of love and courtship. Of the Christmas rose, which had 'every Shepherd won', we learn:

Round the gay sisters press the enamour’d bands,
And seek with soft solicitude their hands.
—Ere while how chang’d!—in dim suffusion lies
The glance divine, that lighten’d in their eyes;
Cold are those lips where smiles seductive hung,
And the weak accents linger on their tongue;
Each roseat feature fades to livid green,—
—Disgust with face averted shuts the scene.
This sad ending to an otherwise happy encounter might remain a mystery were it not for the notes that Darwin includes throughout the poem. In a more measured prose, though brimming with the excitement of discovery, he writes:

The Helleborus niger, or Christmas rose, has a large beautiful white flower, adorned with a circle of tubular two-lipp’d nectarics. After impregnation the flower undergoes a remarkable change, the nectaries drop off, but the white corol remains, and gradually becomes quite green. This curious metamorphose of the corol, when the nectaries fall off, seems to shew that the white juices of the corol were before carried to the nectaries, for the purpose of producing honey: because when these nectaries fall off, no more of the white juice is secreted in the corol, but it becomes green, and degenerates into a calyx.
In the example of the Christmas rose, and in the many others that fill the poem, Darwin, in his bold manner, hints at how the vibrant displays of plants have gradually evolved through natural selection, a theory his grandson Charles would provide compelling evidence for some sixty years later.

The Loves of the Plants was wildly successful. Not only was it rapturously received as a poem, it was also one of the first great works of popular science. An earlier book, written as a medical treatise but which has come to be as much admired for its literary scope, also finds cause to mention the Christmas rose. In Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), the plant appears on the frontispiece, and the verse ‘Argument of the Frontispiece’ explains why it is there:

Borage and Hellebor fill two scenes,
Sovereign plants to purge the veins
Of melancholy, and cheer the heart,
Of those black fumes which make it smart;
To clear the brain of misty fogs,
Which dull our senses, and Soul clogs.
The best medicine that e'er God made
For this malady, if well assay'd.
A useful treatment for melancholy though it was considered to be, the caveat at the end of the verse hints at the darker potencies of hellebore, for the same toxins that make it an effective purgative also make it a powerful poison. So should the long winter months or the festive season play heavily upon your humours, it may be as well to keep the Christmas rose at one remove, save an admiring glance while it is in bloom, before the flower fades and the plants of spring once again renew.

The Loves of the Plants was published along with another, equally ambitious work, The Economy of Vegetation, in two volumes as The Botanic Garden (1791). The Wellcome Library holds a number of early editions of this work, along with several early editions of The Anatomy of Melancholy.

The Library also runs two related workshops, Medicine and Literature and Plants and Medicine, which further explore our holdings in these areas. For more information, and to see the associated resource guides, click on the links.

'Sinful Sex and Demon Drink' in the Wellcome Library

This week saw the broadcast on BBC2 of the concluding part of Ian Hislop's Age of the Do-Gooders, a series which set out to restore the reputation of Victorian social campaigners and reformers.

The concluding episode - Sinful Sex and Demon Drink - featured a sequence filmed in the Wellcome Library. This discussed the work of the social purity campaigner Ellice Hopkins (1836-1904) and featured presenter Ian Hislop read from a copy we have of her instructional pamphlet 'True Manliness', which promoted the virtues of male chastity.

The episode - along with the first two in the series - featured a wealth of material on health in the nineteenth century and is available through the BBC iPlayer to viewers in the UK until Monday 20th December.

Image: Ian Hislop (BBC Press Office)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Item of the Month, December 2010: The London Monster

On this day in 1790, this man, Rhynwick Williams, a young unemployed Welshman was convicted of three counts of assault and sentenced to six years in prison. This - seemingly - brought to an end a sequence of attacks on women in London over the previous two years. Images from the Wellcome Library's collections will help us tell this rather odd story.

There were over 50 reported, seemingly linked, attacks on women in London between 1788 and 1790. Whilst some women received deep wounds, it does not appear the aim of their assailant was to cause life threatening injuries - the attacker at times seemed as concerned with slashing the garments of the women as stabbing them. Often he would attempt to stab the women in the buttocks, sometimes those attacked reported they were offered a nosegay to sniff, out of which a sharp instrument would emerge and at least one report suggested the attacker approached a woman with sharp instruments attached to his knees. The description of the assailant also wildly differed.

Understandably, the attacks received a certain degree of late eighteenth century media hype: THE MONSTER! was how the newspapers of the day dubbed the attacker. There was also a certain degree of sensationalism in how artists and printmakers such as James Gillray responded to the attacks.

In an etching by Gillray, The Monster disappointed of his Afternoon Luncheon, or Porridge Potts preferable to Cork Rumps, the Monster is a true Ogre: about to feast on his victim whose only protection is a copper pan covering her posterior.

The Wellcome Library holds a copy of this related etching by Gillray, The Monster going to take his Afternoons luncheon which was issued in May 1790. Here, the victim has no protection, bare skin is revealed and there's a rather more salacious edge in how the victim is being portrayed.

There's a similar ribaldry in another of Gillray's prints of May 1790, Swearing to the Cutting Monster, or a Scene in Bow Street. Here, a victim shows her injuries - which the officials are making perhaps too close an examination of - to the Bow Street Magistrates. Note too the political connotations of the engraving: instead of our wild-haired ogre, here 'The Monster' in the Dock bears more than a passing resemblance to the politician Charles James Fox...

In June 1790, one victim claimed she recognised her attacker walk past her in the street - this was Rhynwick Williams. Williams was arrested and charged with the attacks. After his first trial collapsed on a technicality, Williams underwent a second trial leading to his conviction on 14th December 1790.

However, the story doesn't quite end there. In Jan Bondeson's The London Monster - the best account of these events - Bondeson talks of similar attacks to these in the centuries that have followed (for example, the 'Brooklyn Monster', depicted left); questions the reliability of Williams's conviction and explores the possibility that the explanation for the attacks may even lie in a massive case of Mass Hysteria (it's certainly the case that some 'victims' lied about the nature of their injuries).

Interestingly, Williams went back to his previous career as an artificial flowermaker after he left jail. His time spent behind bars did have one major transformative effect on him: by the time he left he was father to a child - which was conceived whilst Williams was behind bars (Williams would marry the mother of his child on release). As for the sensationalism of the 'Monster', it's almost tempting now to see this as prefiguring in some ways the newspaper reporting of the Whitechapel murders of 1888.

Image credits:
1/ Renwick Williams, a man convicted of wounding women. Reproduction of a stipple engraving (Wellcome Library no. 1970i)
2/ Renwick Williams, a man who attacked women; represented by a grotesque fiend wielding an exaggerated knife and fork and holding a young woman up by the skirt. Etching by J. Gillray, 1790. (Wellcome Library no. 11193i)
3/ The dismayed Charles Fox in handcuffs, implicated by a woman who is displaying her wounded posterior to three Bow Street Justices; satirizing Fox as being 'The 'monster'. Etching by J. Gillray, 1790. (Wellcome Library no. 12176i)
4/ A man who stabs women in the leg. Wood engraving. (Wellcome Library no. 3411i)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Virtual Heaven

Where do medical web sites go when they die? Well, provided they have granted the Wellcome Library permission, we can 'freeze' them in the UK Web Archive where they can be forever young and accessible.

The Wellcome Library is currently busy digitizing the papers of Francis Crick but did you realise that we have also been contributing to the national attempt to preserve the web since 2004? Dave Thompson is a veteran of the campaign and key lynchpin in our partnership with British Library who host the UK Web Archive site. "Fascinating and not unproblematic to take on something of this magnitude but a crucial resource for the future" comments Dave, thinking of those historians who are currently only a twinkle in the eye.

Wellcome Library staff have now safely archived over 600 medical and health-related web sites. If you have a web site that you would like to see granted eternal digital life please use the UK Web site nomination form and it could wind up in virtual heaven.

Wellcome Library Workshops

This week’s free Wellcome Library workshops are:

Medicine and Literature
Whether you're interested in Love in the Time of Cholera or scaling The Magic Mountain, this workshop will help you explore the relationship between medicine and literature, through the resources of the Wellcome Library.
Tuesday 14th December, 2-3pm

Making the most of my library: the Wellcome Library catalogue and how to personalise it
Perplexed by the Library catalogue? Find what you're really looking for! In this workshop you will learn the most effective way of searching the Wellcome Library catalogue and the best strategies for finding the resources you need. You'll also discover what you can do with your Library Account, and what it can do for you.
Thursday 16th December, 2-3pm

Our programme of free workshops offers short practical sessions to help you discover and make use of the wealth of information available at the Wellcome Library. Book a place from the library website.

Look out for a new programme of workshops beginning in the New Year.

Author: Lalita Kaplish

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Vital Mental Medicine

A BBC Radio 4 documentary which aired today, Vital Mental Medicine: Shackleton's Banjo, offers an indirect insight into an aspect of Henry Wellcome's life.

The documentary tells the story of the instrument shown above: a banjo belonging to Leonard Hussey, a meteorologist who was part of Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition expedition party which set out on board the Endurance in 1914. Famously, the Endurance became stuck in pack ice forcing Shackleton and five crew members to sail the 1,300 km to South Georgia in a small boat in an attempt to get help. He left behind twenty-two men: one of whom was Hussey.

As the Endurance was sinking, Shackleton allowed each crew member to take 2 lbs of possessions with them. The only exception to this was Hussey's banjo - which Shackleton himself retrieved. "We must have that banjo", Shackleton was reported to have said, "It's vital mental medicine".

Miraculously, Shackleton made it to South Georgia and all the stranded men were eventually rescued. Their signatures adorn Hussey's banjo (now owned by the National Maritime Museum and currently on display in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall) which he played to the other twenty-one men he was stranded with.

As for the Wellcome connection... we move from the ice of Antarctica to the sun of the Sudan, as it was there that Hussey first saw the newspaper advertisement calling for volunteers for Shackleton's expedition. And the reason Hussey was in the Sudan? He was working on Henry Wellcome's archaeological excavations at Gebel Moya in the north of that country, during the winter of 1913-1914.

Between 1911 and 1914, Henry Wellcome funded excavations at Gebel Moya, south of Khartoum. Both a continuation of Henry Wellcome's charitable work in the Sudan and a practical example of his interest in archaeology, the excavations were a major contribution to the knowledge of the early history of Eastern Africa. They also featured an ingenious use of aerial photography - a development which these excavations have seldom been credited with. (Life at Gebel Moya during the 1912-1913 season was captured on a film now digitised as part of our Wellcome Film project).

It appears that Hussey's time with Wellcome at Gebel Moya was a major formative influence. Amongst the personal papers we hold of Wellcome's, we have correspondence between him and Hussey. Hussey, in a letter dated 21st August 1918, writes that:

"I don't think that we all quite realised the immense value of the training in discipline and especially in loyalty, which we had at Gebel Moya. Sir Ernest Shackleton - and I say this with all diffidence - always refers to me as "one of the most cheerful and loyal ones", and I wish for no finer epigraph". [1]

For more on Hussey's cheerfulness - and how his banjo kept spirits up amongst his fellow strandees - have a listen to the documentary, which is available through the BBC iPlayer to listeners in the UK until next Saturday (18th December).

Image credit: National Maritime Museum

[1] From file WA/HMM/CO/Ear/316. The letter also makes brief mention of Hussey and Shackleton about to embark on a "wartime mission in Northern Russia".

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Need an interesting image or the perfect picture?

The Wellcome Library has recently made ordering new photography from our wonderful collections a lot easier with our new online photography ordering service. We think this is a first – we’ve not seen any other library providing a service online quite like this.

We’ve made it easy for you to simply make your selections from our catalogue whenever you see the ‘request new photography’ button.

We’ve also given you the option to fill in all the form details yourself if you prefer.

 As well as making the process simpler for you, our staff are also benefitting from clear catalogue information and no more struggles with “doctor’s handwriting”.

We’ve already fulfilled online orders from as far afield as Germany and India. And don’t forget – you can already download many images immediately and for free from the excellent Wellcome Images.

Thanks go to everyone who helped to bring this to fruition: our users who helped our testing, Library and Wellcome Images staff, and staff from the Wellcome Trust’s web team, finance and IT departments.

Theodor Schwann Bicentenary

"The treatise has now been seven years before the public, has been most acutely investigated by those best competent to test its value, and the first physiologists of our day have judged the discoveries which it unfolds as worthy to be ranked amongst the most important steps by which the science of physiology has ever been advanced"

The treatise being described here is Theodor Schwann's work of 1837, Mikroskopische Untersuchungen über die Uebereinstimmung in der Struktur und dem Wachsthum der Thiere und Pflanzen. This was translated into English in 1847 as Microscopical researches into the accordance in the structure and growth of animals and plants (the quote above comes from the Translator's Preface). But to summarise Schwann's achievements, let's just use two words: cell theory.

Schwann - who was born 200 years ago today - played a key role in our understanding that cells are the basic units of life. Schwann's associate Matthias Schleiden had examined the cellular structure of plants, but Schwann extended Schleiden's research to animal tissues. As the title of Section II of Schwann's Microscopical researches... states: "On cells as the Basis of All Tissues of the Animal Body".

Schwann's work was aided by developments in nineteenth century microscopy. Microscopical researches... includes a number of plates with figures of the cells Schwann observed under his microscope (magnified by about 450 diameters). Here were membranes from a hen's egg and cells from the tail of a tadpole, not served up as remarkable feats of magnification but as evidence to support his theory.

Aided by being part of the laboratory of the influential German physiologist Johannes Muller, Schwann's monograph caught the attention of the scientific community and he was awarded the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1845 (two years before his work was published in English).

Although Schwann's theory was refined in later years (Rudolf Virchow showed that cells developed from themselves, rather than as Schwann argued, crystallizing out from a "blastema" or amorphous fluid) he played a vital role in the adoption and acceptance of cell theory. Considering also Schwann's earlier research - he made pioneering discoveries in both fermentation and digestion - the bicentenary of his birth seems an apt date to mark.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wellcome Library Workshops

This week’s free Wellcome Library workshops are:

Plants and Medicine
An introduction to contemporary and historical resources relating to the use of plants in medicine found in the Wellcome Library's online and print collections.
Tuesday 7th December, 2-3pm

Finding visual resources in the Wellcome Library Collections
A practical introduction to the wealth of visual resources available in the Wellcome Library collections, with suggestions and tips on how to find them.
Thursday 9th December, 2-3.15pm

Our programme of free workshops offers short practical sessions to help you discover and make use of the wealth of information available at the Wellcome Library. Book a place from the library website.

Image: Flamingo (Phaenicopterus) against a Keratophyton Dichotomum fulcum plant. From Mark Catesby The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London: 1731-1743)

Author: Lalita Kaplish

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mellow memories of the drug market

The drug bazaar, Constantinople. Watercolour by J.F. Lewis.
Wellcome Library no. 45051i
Good to see Brian Sewell writing in a mellow mood (though not for long) in yesterday's London Evening Standard. [1] The usually acerbic art critic gave a half-page reproduction to one of the Wellcome Library's treasures that had pleased him, a watercolour by John Frederick Lewis RA (1805-1876) of the Egyptian bazaar in Constantinople.

Sewell commented:
To the art historian accustomed to the meticulous attention to detail affected by John Frederick Lewis, the refinement of his tiny brushstrokes, the ever-increasing intricacy, “the stern precision … (and) completeness of finish to the utmost corners of his canvas” — as John Ruskin put it, gathering him to the bosom of the Pre-Raphaelites in 1851 — his "Drug Bazaar, Constantinople" must be astonishing. Did Ruskin know of this big watercolour painted a year or perhaps a decade earlier (the Wellcome curators give conflicting dates)? It is so loose and free and broad-brush as to resemble more the approach of Delacroix, whose path Lewis had almost certainly crossed earlier in his travels; it gives the impression of a rapid and immediate under-drawing to which most refining work has still to be done, but this it cannot be, for his characteristic watercolours (sold in his day for as much as a thousand guineas) were always as clean and clear on the white paper as were the paintings of Holbein that he so much admired for their even finish. Could it have been so broadly painted because he worked on it under the influence of one of the drugs available in that very part of the Grand Bazaar?"

One does not have to endorse that last suggestion to agree that it certainly is something of a puzzle. The finished parts are brilliantly coloured -- mouth-watering reds, ochres and greens -- but as Sewell says, the rest of the painting would have had to be finished with similarly extravagant swathes and dollops of coloured pigments, rather than in Lewis's usual craftsmanly, not to say pedantic, manner. It's the old difference between the followers of Rubens and Poussin: normally Lewis, though a glorious colourist, was in the Poussin camp, but here he is a Rubéniste.

Yet there is no doubt about the attribution. It was bought by Henry S. Wellcome at the Lewis sale at Christie's on 24 May 1909 (lot 171, for 35 guineas), and as Major General Michael Lewis (author of the 1978 monograph J.F. Lewis R.A. on his ancestor) said in a letter to the Wellcome Institute in 1982, the painting "is full of JFL's characters – not least the tired donkey".

As far as the dates are concerned, Briony Llewellyn kindly carried out some research on the painting in 1998 and concluded: "It is possible that the Wellcome watercolour was executed while Lewis was in Constantinople in 1840/41, but its large size and complex arrangement of people and objects make it more likely that it was a composition that he began and worked up from sketches (such as lot 210 in the 1877 Lewis sale) later in England." There are several examples of Lewis returning to Turkish subjects even quite late in life, for instance he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1870 a painting of "Arab horses and their seises [?], Constantinople", a painting which is not known to survive (though a study for it was sold at Christie's New York on 9 December 2004, lot 38).

The location depicted in the Wellcome Library watercolour was identified by Charles Newton of the Victoria and Albert Museum as the building constructed in 1660 and known as the Mısır Çarşısı or Egyptian bazaar, possibly so named because it was endowed by taxes levied by the Ottomans in Egypt. It is described in Godfrey Goodwin's book A history of Ottoman architecture, London 1971, p. 358. Lewis's position can be pinpointed on Goodwin's plan of the building (fig. 340) as very close to Goodwin's number "5", looking down the long corridor north-westwards. The market sold spices, herbs and drugs, and medicinal leeches were still sold in recent times at the southern end near the flower market. Another smaller sketch by Lewis, in the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (left, from the Huntington's online catalogue), shows the entrance to the same building as a picturesque muddle. Inside, its high-arched ceiling, long central axis and colourful market stalls made the building a favourite subject for painters: the Wellcome Library has at least two other depictions of it, and another, attributed to a French painter called Charles Pierron, was offered for sale at Christie's South Kensington on 21 June 2002 (lot 195).

A tip of the hat to the conservators who worked on the painting in 1997-1999, Keith Holmes and Sue Corfield. It's not clear whether, when Wellcome bought it, the painting was protected by a frame, but by May 1982 it was leaning up unframed on the concrete floor of the Wellcome Institute's warehouse on a trading estate in Enfield, Middlesex, having been moved there from previous warehouses in Willesden and Dartford. It was incredibly dirty, scuffed in places by other paintings leaning against it, and laid down on Lewis's blind stretcher (an acidic wooden board that was damaging the paper).

The conservators carefully removed the painting from the stretcher, and the latter was preserved separately, owing to its documentary inscriptions (shown above) including Lewis's initials JFL and the dates and stencil codes (439BN and 738F) of Christie's two Lewis sales in 1877 and 1909. (It was these stencils that enabled Christie's to identify it for us as the work sold in their 1909 sale.) The work was cleaned, the paper was deacidified, and the painting was laid down on a new support (a laminate of western and Japanese papers). Finally it was framed in a manner suitable for a Victorian exhibition picture, with a gold mount to match the gilded frame, instead of the jarring Modern-Movement-style cream mount so often used inappropriately for old master and Victorian works (left, from the BBC website).

It takes all that to get a picture fit for the admiration of Mr Sewell and his many readers.

[1] Brian Sewell, 'Confessions of a cannabis eater', London Evening Standard, 2 December 2010, pp. 39-41. Online here.

Launch of JAINpedia

Launched at an event at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the 18th of November was JAINpedia: a project to create an online, accessible resource devoted to the Jain religion. JAINpedia is the first such project to work with the key holders of Jain artefacts in the UK, with the aim to make their items accessible and understandable to a lay audience.

The JAINpedia website will contain approximately 2000 digitised images from around 4000 different manuscripts. It will also include translations of text and a wealth of contextual information about the Jain religion and a dedicated educational interface designed for schools and learners.

The Wellcome Library is one of a number of key stakeholders in this project and has contributed to it digitized images from its vast Jain manuscripts collection.

Representing the Library at the launch was our Asian Collections Librarian, Dr Nikolaj Serikoff, shown in the image above meeting the guest of honour, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

For more information, see the website of the Institute of Jainology.

Image credit: from a selection of images of the launch on Picasa.

Author: Nikolaj Serikoff

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