Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Obstetric tables: a 19th century flap book

In 1845 George Spratt published the fourth edition of his highly successful Obstetric tables : comprising graphic illustrations, with descriptions and practical remarks; exhibiting on dissected plates, many important subjects in midwifery. This illustrated anatomical ‘flap book’ is a recent addition to the Sir George Grey Special Collections printed collection. You can view a digitised version of the 1835 edition through the Internet Archive, or come visit us on Level 2 of the Central City Library to turn the pages (and lift the flaps) yourself.

Obstetric tables was published as a training aid at a time when it was becoming difficult for medical students to gain clinical experience. It contains a large number of layered illustrations that can be lifted to provide ‘dissected’ views of the female body in pregnancy. Some of the plates contain as many as four or five layers, showing for example the different stages of pregnancy, the position of a baby during birth, and use of forceps in an assisted delivery.