Spratt's "Obstetric Tables"

George Spratt, Obstetric Tables: Comprising Graphic Illustrations, with Descriptions and Practical Remarks: Exhibiting on Dissected Plates Many Important Subjects in Midwifery (Philadelphia: James A. Bill, 1850). Lithographs. Gift of Joseph V. Meigs, Class of 1915. Graphic Arts GAX 2010. In process

In 1538, Vesalius created Tabulae Sex, attaching a second printed image on top of the first that could be lifted to show the inside and outside of the human body. Euclid’s Elements of Geometry in 1570 incorporated flaps to help the reader envision three dimensional objects (Ex Oversize 2654.331.570q). By the early nineteenth century, the British printmaker George Spratt (ca. 1784-1840) used the same overlay technique for an anatomy atlas entitled Obstetric Tables. Spratt’s volume, first published in London in 1833, includes fifty hand-colored, tipped on flaps, sometimes layered four or five to the same image.

Spratt was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, a fellow of the Linnaean Society, a male midwife, and an active printmaker. His first major project was the botanical Flora Medica in 1829. Completed four years later, Obstetric Tables found a wide audience, with a second edition released in 1837, a third in 1841, and many more. An edition was first printed in Philadelphia in 1847. This is the 1850 James A. Bill edition, from the title page: “First American edition from the fourth and greatly improved London edition”.