Abbildungen und Beschreibungen Einiger Mißgeburten, die sich ehemals auf dem Anatomischen Theater zu Cassel befanden

  • Reference
      GB 133 MMM/23/2/9
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 volume, 70 folios New binding (1949)

Scope and Content

A manuscript copy of Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring's 1791 work Abbildungen und Beschreibungen Einiger Mißgeburten, die sich ehemals auf dem Anatomischen Theater zu Cassel Befanden (or Illustrations and descriptions of some monsters which were formerly in the anatomical theatre of Cassel) on birth deformities and 'monsters'. There are 12 fold-out watercolour drawings in the rear of the manuscript on folios 59-70 with explanation of the deformities depicted in each in the main text at the front. The manuscript appears to be incomplete as the descriptions only cover images 1-4 and folios 11-58 are blank. The manuscript is dedicated on the first page to 'Joann Bapt Sax der arzneiikunde hörer' whose name also appears on the first two drawings as the creator, and it is likely that he is responsible for the creation of all 12 drawings.

The drawings depict several cases of ancephaly, double-headed malformations and combinations of the two in addition to an oblique facial cleft, instances of external abdominal organs and one instance of achondroplasia. In the introduction to the published version of the text von Sömmerring states that there is little information as to the origins of the collection other than that it came to the Fridericianum Museum in Kassel, Germany in 1779 along with a number of other strange pieces and that it was taken under his care to his new anatomical theatre at Leipziger Platz on 16th December 1779.

The manuscript previously had the reference number O 5239 viz. the Manchester Medical Society's 1890 library catalogue.

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring was born on 28 January 1755 in Torun, Poland and studied medicine in Göttingen from 1774-1778. From 1779 to 1784 he was professor of anatomy at the Collegium Carolinum in Kassel and later was professor of anatomy at the University of Mainz before going into private practice in Frankfurt in 1795. Sömmerring was a well-renowned anatomist and made a number of anatomical discoveries including the macula in the retina of the human eye. His publications include Von Baue des menschlichen Körpers (1791-6), Über die körperliche Verschiedenheit des Mohren vom Europäer (1784), and Abbildungen des menschlichen Auges (1801). Sömmerring died in Frankfurt on 2 March 1830.


R. Bernasconi (ed.), Concepts of Race in the Eighteenth Century, Volume 8 (Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 2001). R. Hildebrand, 'Attic perfection in anatomy: Bernhard Siegfried Albinus (1697-1770) and Samuel Thomas Soemmerring (1755-1830)', Annals of Anatomy, 2005, 187(5), pp.555-73.