A late Victorian Staffordshire Pottery phrenology head by LN Fowler of Ludgate Circus, London.
This Staffordshire pottery bust is marked with various sections around the head and eye to denote various characteristics associated with the practice of phrenology and in accordance with Fowler’s particular teachings. The front of the base is marked, “phrenology by LN Fowler” with the right side marked, “LN Fowler, Ludgate Circus, London” and the left side, “entered at Stationers Hall” referring to the copyright associated with Fowler’s accompanying pamphlet on the subject. The reverse contains a quote from Fowler:
“For thirty years I have studied crania and living heads from all parts of the world and have found in every instance that there is a perfect correspondence between the conformation of the healthy skull of an individual and his known characteristics. To make my observations available I have prepared a bust of superior form and marked the divisions of the organs in accordance with my researches and varied experience – LN Fowler”.
In great condition, this bust is somewhat unusual in that it contains small holes across the top of the cranium which were presumably used for marking out points of interest whilst examining an individual’s head. Few examples are found with this particular feature, although a similar example can be found in the Cambridge University History of Science collection.
Lorenzo Niles Fowler (1811 – 1896) was an American born phrenologist who, alongside his brother and sister, became one of the most renowned phrenology practitioners and publishers in the US during the mid-nineteenth century.
In 1860, Fowler travelled to the UK to conduct a tour of lectures on the subject which culminated with appearances at the 1862 International Trade Exhibition in London. Shortly after, Fowler emigrated to the UK and set up the Fowler Institute where he taught, lectured and practised phrenology readings. His famous phrenology busts were sold as an accompaniment to his pamphlets and are encountered with various business premises addresses including 107 Fleet Street, 337 The Strand and Ludgate Circus. He was a founder of the British Phrenology Association in 1886 which continued to exist until 1967. He died from a stroke whilst on a short return visit to the US in 1896.