woensdag 14 augustus 2013

 FLAYING



Live flaying  and the use of skins of whites as shoe leather I consider key to understanding whites, and how they perceive Blacks. Yet these wrongs by the brown and black complexioned European elite of nobles and bourgeoisie, since the Greek and Roman times: was set right in 1848. Whites were emancipated and men were given general suffrage. They then had all portraits of the Ancien Regime altered, claiming the paint had darkened. Whites want to believe themselves superior to Blacks, and need to hide the fact that Europe was civilized by brown and black Europeans.
 

 
Public execution of a corrupt judge




 
St.Bartholomey

 
Book bound in human leather

 
St. Bartholomey: his face and skin are whitened
 
 
 
 
[img]http://www.stepbystep.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Top-10-Most-Harsh-Brutal-Punishments-in-the-World1.jpg
[img]http://uploads2.wikipaintings.org/images/gerard-david/the-flaying-of-the-corrupt-judge-sisamnes-1498.jpg[/img]
 [img]http://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/kunst/noartist/g/giordano__flaying_of_marsyas.jpg[/img]
 [img]http://www.nature.com/ki/journal/v57/n3/images/4491441f3.gif[/img]
 [img]http://m5.i.pbase.com/o4/93/329493/1/91297485.1YhVuShZ.SpainOct07270.jpg[/img]
 [img]http://www.alephnaught.com/Travel/Italian2009/Images/Florence/Day4/MuseoFlayingAlive.jpg[/img]
 [img]http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17e6p1jmbzcl5jpg/original.jpg[/img]
 [img]http://www.wga.hu/art/m/matteo/bartholo.jpg[/img]



  Tanned Human Skin

By LAWRENCE S. THOMPSON, U. S. Department

of Agriculture Library

 

THE NOTION of flaying the human body and tanning the hide is an

jold one. According to Herodotus the Scythians cultivated the art.

In Saxon Britain it was customary for certain types of offenders to

pay a hyd-geld to save their skins, and marauding Danes who committed

sacrilege in the churches were flayed and their skins nailed to the church

doors.1 Other legends such as that of Zisca's drum made of his own

skin and the thirteenth century Bible in the Bibliotheque Nationale

made on parchment from peau de femme are not so easy to prove.

Similar folklore is the medieval Bavarian belief that anthropodermic

girdles were effective aids to childbirth.2

In modern times the growth of interest in the possibility of tanning

the human exuviae has risen slowly. The first authentic notice on the

subject in recent centuries is the information that William Harvey presented

the College of Physicians with a tanned human skin.3 Among the

first to put tanned human skin to practical use was Anthony Askew

(1722-1773), physician, bibliophile, and classicist, who had a TraitS

d'anatomie bound in the human integument.4 Another English physician,

John Hunter (1728-1794) had an Abbandlung fiber die Hautkrankbeiten

put up in a healthy cured human skin.5

On the other side of the Channel French physicians were also taking

'Albert Way, "Some Notes on the Tradition of Flaying Inflicted in Punishment

of Sacrilege; the Skin of the Offender Being Affixed to the Church-Doors," Archaeological

Journal, V (1848), 189-90; see also Walter George Bell, More about Unknown

London (London, John Lane, 1921), pp. 168-72.

'Max Hofler, Volksmedizin und Aberglaude in Oberbayerns Gegenwart und Vergangenheit

(Munich, 1888), 172.

'Holbrook Jackson, The Anatomy of Bibliomania (New York, Charles Scribner's

Sons, 1932), p. 511. Similar specimens are in the Naturwissenschaftliches Museum of

the University of Basel and the Lycee of Versailles.

4Albert Gm, Le livre historique-fabrication-achat-classement-usage-et entre'ien

(Paris, E. Flammarion, 1905-8; five volumes), III, 293.

"Einbande aus Menschenhaut," Allgemeiner Anzeiger fir Buchbindereien, XLIV

(no. 42, Oct. 18, 1929), 1010; "Reliures en peau humaine," La bibliofilia, raccolta di

scritti sull'arte antica in libri, manoscritti, autografi e legature, IV (1902-3), 333.

93

LAWRENCE S. THOMPSON

some note of the possibilities of human leather. Valmont de Bomarel

reports that a celebrated Parisian surgeon, M. Sue,7 gave to the Cabinet

du Roi a pair of slippers made of human skin. Valmont reports further

that this same museum owned a belt of human skin on which the vestiges

of a nipple were clearly distinguishable, and another piece consisted of

the last two fingers of a right hand, including the nails. Further up the

coast in the Low Countries Hermann Boerhaave (1668-1738) had formed

a collection of medical curiosities including a .pair of lady's high heeled

shoes made of leather from the skin of an executed criminal. Again here

the nipple was used as an ornament, adorning the front of the instep.8

However, no systematic interest was taken by the medical profession

in the practical uses of human leather until the nineteenth century.

Possibly it resulted from the impetus given to anthropodermic bibliopegy

and related arts by the French Revolution. Few histories of the Revolution

omit references to the infamous Royalist propaganda to the effect

that a gigantic human skin tannery at Meudon filled all the requisitions

for the leather goods needed by the revolutionary army quartermasters.

Likewise, most of us who have made the grand tour or read guide books

on Paris are familiar with the Carnavalet Museum's copy of the French

Constitution of 1793 which is contained in a piece of human skin dyed

a light green.

At all events, we find in early nineteenth century England a remarkable

tendency on the part of the courts to include in the sentences of condemned

criminals a provision that their bodies be delivered to local

surgeons for dissection, and on several occasions the hides of these

scoundrels were immortalized. Possibly this type of sentence was intended

as an antidote for the notorious practice of "Burking," so-called

from the profession of William Burke, who earned his bread by murdering

the good citizens of Edinburgh and selling the cadavers to a local

physician for dissection. When Burke himself was finally apprehended

and executed in 1829, a portion of his skin was tanned. Part went to

Jacques Christophe Valmont de Bomare, Dictionnaire raisonne universel d'histoire

naturelle contenant l'histoire des animaux, des vegetaux et des mine'raux, et celle des

corps celestes, des m'tetores, & des autres principaux phe'nomenes de la nature; avec

l'histoire des trois retgnes et la detail des usages de leurs productions dans la medecine,

dans Economie domestique et champêtre, et dans les arts et metiers (Lyon, Bruyset

Freres, 1791; fifteen volumes; 4th revised edition), X, 204.

'Possibly Pierre Sue (1739-1816), "le jeune," but there were at least three other

famous Sues, all related to Pierre, in pre-Revolutionary French medical history. Another

member of the Sue family, Eugene, is rumored to have bound his famous Mysteres de

Paris in the skin of a woman who loved him. See A.H.W. Fynmore, "Books Bound in

Human Skin," Notes and Queries, CLXXXVII (Dec. 2, 1944), 259; Walter Hart

Blumenthal, "Books Bound in Human Skin," The American Book Collector, II (1932),

123-4; and "Curl Up on a Good Book," The Dolphin, Fall, 1940, Pt. 1 (no. 4), p. 92.

' Henry Stephens, "Human Skin Tanned, etc.," Notes and Queries, 2nd series, II

(Sept. 27, 1856), 252.

94

TANNED HUMAN SKIN

make a wallet for the doorkeeper of the anatomical classroom in Edinburgh.

9 A larger piece which was tanned and dyed a dark blue fell into

the hands of the publisher of Burke's trial, who had it cut into small

pieces and distributed to various friends. One portion of it was included

in the remarkable collection of papers relative to Burke and Hare which

was formed for Sir Walter Scott and retained in the library of the bard

at Abbotsford after his death.10

The early issues of Notes and Queries are full of accounts of criminals

whose integuments were removed subsequent to dissection and delivered

to the tanner. The earliest known instance of a criminal whose

body was ordered by the court to be dissected is found in the sentence of

one James Johnson, condemned to the gallows on March 19, 1818, by

Mr. Justice Dallas of the Norfolk Assizes, who also ordered that the

culprit's body "be delivered to the surgeons to be anatomized." Following

the execution, which took place on the Castle Hill, Norwich, in the

presence of 5,000 spectators, the dissection was performed by Mr.

Wilson, "a gentleman from London," and Mr. Austen, "a pupil of Mr.

Dalrymple's," who prepared the body for a series of daily lectures delivered

by a Mr. Crosse.1"

Another early case on record is that of a youth of eighteen named

John Horwood, who was hanged on April 13, 1821, at Bristol New

Drop for the aggravated murder of Eliza Balsum. Richard Smith, senior

surgeon of the Bristol Infirmary, was given authority by the court to

dissect the body; and after a course of lectures ad populum on respiration

and circulation which he based on the corpse, he flayed the body and

tanned the skin. The skeleton he preserved in a cabinet of curiosities,

principally relics of executed criminals; and near this museum piece he

placed a bound collection of Horwoodiana with a label on the back

(some 6" x 3") of tanned human cuticle. It resembles light russia, has

tooled borderlines in gold with a skull and crossbones stamped in each

corner, and a gilt inscription in blackletter: "Cutis Vera Johannis

Horwood.''12 The book is still in the Bristol Royal Infirmary.'3

About five or six years after the execution of John Horwood, William

Waite went to the gallows at Worcester for the murder of his wife's

daughter (by a former husband), a little girl named Sarah Chance, by

throwing her into an exhausted coalpit. Dissection was a part of his

9"G.," "Human Skin Tanned," Notes and Queries, 3rd series, VIII (Dec. 2,

1865), 463.

se"T. G. S.," "Human Skin Tanned, etc.," 2nd series, II (Sept. 27, 1856), 252.

Information supplied by Mr. George Hayward, city librarian of the Norwich

Public Libraries, from Charles Mackie's Norfolk Annals, 1, 151.

12 "F. S." of Churchdown, "Human Skin Tanned, etc.," Notes and Queries, 2nd

series, II (Sept. 27, 1856), 250-1.

13 C. Roy Hudleston, "Books Bound in Human Skin," Notes and Queries,

CLXXXVII (Nov. 18, 1944), 241.

95

LAWRENCE S. THOMPSON

sentence, and after dissection his entire skin was flayed by a Stourbridge

surgeon named Downing. It was not tanned but rather preserved in a

sumach preparation.14

One of the most celebrated dissections which resulted in ultimate

tanning of the hide was that of ratcatcher George Cudmore, executed in

the Devon County Jail in 1830 for the murder of his wife, Grace, with

the assistance of a woman named Sarah Dunn. The Dunn woman, incidentally,

was forced to witness the execution of her accomplice, and

she is said to have fallen into hysterics and fainted when the drop fell.

Cudmore was dissected at the Devon and Exeter Hospital. Subsequently

his tanned skin fell into the hands of W. Clifford, a bookseller

of Exeter, who used it for binding a copy of Teggs's 1852 edition of

Milton. This book was at one time in the library of Ralph Sanders of

Exeter, but it is now in the Albert Memorial Library of that city. The

skin is dressed white and looks something like pigskin in grain and

texture.'5

Towards the middle of the nineteenth century English physicians

developed a somewhat more objective interest in human skin. Especially

adept in the art of recognizing the true provenance of human leather

was one John Quekett, assistant curator of the museum of the Royal

College of Surgeons. Quekett was approached by Sir Benjamin Brodie,:'

Albert Way,17 and others with specimens of human skin, in some instances

nearly a thousand years old, and requested to give an identification

of the nature of the cuticles. Through a now familiar technique of

microscopic examination of vestigial remnants of hairs still clinging to

the skin, Quekett identified three pieces for Way as the skin of fair

haired persons-sacrilegious Danes who had pillaged the churches in

Worcester, Hadstock, and Copford many years before the Conquest;'8

The naturalist Frank Buckland repeated a story probably told by his

father, who was dean of Westminster, that a piece of hard, dry human

skin had been found beneath the bossed head of a huge iron nail on the

door of the Abbey's Chapter House. Quekett again identified this

specimen as human and pointed out that it probably came from a fair

haired person.19

14 F. A. Carrington, "Human Skin Tanned, etc.," Notes and Queries, 2nd series, II

(Oct. 11, 1856), 299. Carrington was one of the counsel on the trial.

' Alfred Wallis, "Book Bound in Human Skin," Notes and Queries, 7th series,

VIII (March 30, 1889), 246; H. Tapley-Soper (librarian of the Exeter City Library),

"Books Bound in Human Skin," Notes and Queries, CLI (July 24, 1926), 68-9, and

CLXXXVII (Dec. 30, 1944), 306; Fynmore, loc. cit.; Blumenthal, op. cit., p. 119.

14John Pavin Philips, "Human Skin Tanned, etc.," Notes and Queries, 2nd series,

II (Sept. 27, 1856), 251-2.

'7 Op. cit.

Deposited in the Anatomical Museum of the College of Surgeons in Lincoln's

Inn Fields; see Bell, op. cit., p. 170.

" Ibid.

96

TANNED HUMAN SKIN

Another British physician who displayed an interest in human skin

about the middle of the last century was one James Wise. In 1919 the

Newberry Library of Chicago received as a part of the bequest of Mr.

John M. Wing a volume with the following note on the front fly leaf:

"Found in the Palace of the King of Delhi September 21, 1857 eleven

days after the assault. James Wise, M.D. Bound in human skin."

Authorities at the Newberry Library advise that examination of the pore

structure by a Chicago anatomist has confirmed the second statement.

The leather is smooth and thin and has been dyed a maroon color. The

covers have gold stamped corner and center pieces of oriental floral

design. A letter to Wise attached to one of the back fly leaves identifies

the text of the manuscript as "a narrative of events connected with the

history of the Dekkan, comprising biographies, deeds, genealogies, etc.

of sundry notables by a Nawab Wuzeer of Hyderabad." It was copied by

Mir Baki 'Ali who completed it in the year of the Hegira 1226 (i.e.,

1848 A.D.).20

Toward the latter part of the nineteenth century several prominent

American physicians began to show a pronounced interest in anthropodermic

bibliopegy. At least three such volumes are in the library of the

Philadelphia College of Physicians. The earliest such volume is Joseph

Leidy's own copy of his Elementary Treatise on Human Anatomy (Philadelphia,

Lippincott, 1861), with the inscription: "The leather with

which this book is bound is human skin, from a soldier who died during

the great Southern rebellion."

Somewhat better known are the two volumes now owned by the

College of Physicians which came from the library of Dr. John Stockton-

Hough, who died in 1900 in Ewingville near Trenton, N.J. Stockton-

Hough flayed some patients he lost at the Philadelphia General Hospital,

formerly known simply as the Philadelphia Hospital (Blockley), and

he is said to have bound more than six books in the leather obtained

thereby.21 However, only two can be located, both in the College of

Physicians' Library:

[Couper, Robert]

Speculations on the mode and appearances of impregnation in the human

female; with an examination of the present theories of generation. By a physician.

149 pages. 80. Edinburgh, Elliott, 1789.

2' I am -indebted to Mr. Ernst F. Detterer, custodian of the Wing Foundation of the

Newberry Library, for the description of this volume.

' "Curl Up on a Good Book," loc. cit.; G.A.E. Bogeng, "Kuriosa. I," Archiv fiir

Buchbinderei, IX (1909), 90; Paul McPharlin, "Curious Book Bindings," Notes and

Queries, CLIII (1927), 6. I am indebted to Mr. Elliott H. Morse, Reference Librarian

of the University of Pennsylvania, and to Dr. W. Brook McDaniel, 2d, librarian of

the College of Physicians, for accurate information concerning the anthropodermic

volumes of Leidy and Stockton-Hough.

97

LAWRENCE S. THOMPSON

Drelincurtius, Carolus

De conceptione adversaria. Disce, homo, de tenui constructus pulvere, que

te edidit in lucem conditione Deus. Ed. altera.

[8], 74 pages. 240. Lugd. Batv., Boutesteyn, 1686.

On the basis of his extensive experience Stockton-Hough reported skin

from the human back to be coarse-grained; but he also said that skin

from a woman's thigh could be almost indistinguishable from pigskin.

Anthropodermic volumes from the library of Dr. Matthew Wood of

Philadelphia have not been located as yet. The most spectacular volume

in this collection was a tome bound in the skin of one Ernst Kauffmann,

a young German who was studying law in 1813. Kauffmann despaired of

fame and fortune as a writer, but in order to be remembered to posterity,

he made a collection of some two hundred woodcuts which he entitled

Zwei Hundert beriihmte Manner and had it bound in his own skin after

his death.22 Other books from Wood's library bound in Kauffmann's skin

were Lesage's Histoire de Gil Blas, two volumes of A Book About

Doctors, and three volumes of Episodes de la vie des insectes.

An unidentified medical student in Massachussetts precipitated one

of the most bitter political scandals ever known by that commonwealth

when he had a friend take a small quantity of human skin to tanner

William Mueller of North Cambridge, Mass. Somehow or another,

Governor Benjamin Butler got hold of this leather and alleged that it

was the skin of inmates of the Tewksbury State Almshouse sold by

administrative officers of that institution. The Almshouse was subjected

to an extensive investigation, a law was proposed to make the tanning

of human skin a criminal violation, and there was a flood of newspaper

articles and pamphlets on the subject. The Surgeon General's Library in

Washington has a broadsheet by William Mueller explaining his position

and condemning Governor Butler.

France as well as England and America has produced a number of

experts on human leather. The Goncourt brothers gossiped about some

interns in the Clamart who had been dismissed because they had delivered

the skin of the breasts of deceased female patients to a binder of

obscene books in the Faubourg Saint-Germain.23 The publisher of

obscene books, Isidore Liseux, claimed to have seen the one volume

octavo edition (1793) of Justine et Juliette by the Marquis de Sade

bound in female breasts.

22 Cim, op. cit., pp. 295 and 300; Paul Kersten, "Bucheinbaende in Menschenleder,"

Die Heftlade; Zeitschrift fur die FUrderer des Jakob Krause-Bundes, I (1922-24), 55.

' Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Memoires de la vie litteraire (Paris 1888), III,

49, entry under date of April 17, 1866); "Les reliures en peau humaine," La chronique

medicale, V (1898), 133; Cim, op. cit., p. 297; G. E. B. Saintsbury, A History of the

French Novel (to the Close of the 19th Century) (London, Macmillan, 1917-19; two

volumes), II, 461-2.

98

TANNED HUMAN SKIN

The French were not quite as enthusiastic about the dissection of

deceased criminals as were the British. An anonymous letter to the editor

of the Mercure de France24 dated September 15, 1920, stated that the

corpse of the famous nineteenth century criminal Pranzini was delivered

to the Faculty of Medicine in Paris inasmuch as it was not claimed by his

family. An official of the Surete wanted to make a cardcase of the skin,

but when the news of his project came to the ears of the prefect, the

latter official immediately ordered that any cutaneous relics of Pranzini

be buried with the body. Another account advises that the official was

Inspector Rossignol, who wanted to give cardcases to Messrs. Taylor

and Goron, chief and number one man of the Surete, respectively, and

that he had a 40 cm. square piece tanned by Destresse of Paris.25 Campi,

the notorious French criminal whose true name was never revealed by the

police, was to be flayed after execution and the tanned hide to be used to

bind a volume containing the complete story of his life and exploits.26

M. Flandinette, a technician at the Vcole d'Anthropologie, tanned the

right arm and side of this subject, but it is not known whether the

leather was ever put to any bibliopegic application.

A Dr. Legrain of Villejuif made a rather interesting confession to the

editor of the Mercure de France27 in a letter dated August 3, 1920, concerning

his experience with anthropodermic binding. He stated that as a

medical student some forty years previously he had despoiled a corpse

of its cutis and delivered it to a custom tanner. Six months later it was

turned back over to him, shrunken to half its original size and increased

in thickness by a full centimeter. Without revealing his secret, Legrain

submitted the skin to a friend who was well versed in such matters. The

latter stated positively that it was pigskin, although he did express some

suspicion of its human origin. Due to its excessive thickness, the skin

had to be split before it could be put to any practical use. Legrain used

the leather to bind a copy of the Theophile Gautier's Comedie de la mort

which he presented to the friend whom he had so cruelly deceived.

About the same time a bookbinder reported that he had bound

several volumes in human skin for an otherwise unidentified Dr. V.28

Among other volumes he bound for him was an edition of Mercier de

Compiegne's L'eloge des seins in the tanned skin from female breasts,

and in the middle of the front cover appeared the unmistakable form of

a human female's nipple. Incidentally, the customer of this binder was

especially fond of tattooed human skins. He managed to get hold of a

TMCXLII (1920), 831.

2;Kersten, loc. cit., and A. M. Villon, Practical Treatise on the Leather Industry

(London, Scott, Greenwood & Co., 1901), p. 28.

:"'Les reliures en peau humaine," loc. cit., p. 137; Kersten, op. cit., p. 55.

etCXLI (1920), 831.

'Einbaende aus Menschenhaut," loc. cit.

99

LAWRENCE S. THOMPSON

human skin on which were tattooed two knights from the age of Louis

XIII in single combat, and he ordered a copy of The Three Musketeers

bound in it.29

A Dr. Cabanes, probably the editor of La chronique m6dicale, figured

in one of the most widely discussed of all recent tales about anthropodermic

bindings. The central characters are Camille Flammarion,

French popularizer of astronomical research, and an unidentified woman,

ordinarily described as a young countess. According to the most widely

accepted version, the young woman suffered an early death from tuberculosis,

and in order to express adequately her unrequited love for

Flammarion, she had him sent a strip of skin from her shoulders (passionately

admired by Flammarion, according to another tale) with the

request that he use it to bind the first book published by him after her

death. True to her wishes, Flammarion bound his Terres du ciel in the

skin, probably hand tooled au fer froid, style monastique. As late as 1925

the book was still in the library at Juvisy.

Dr. Cabanes, curious about the true facts of this incident so badly

distorted by the sensational press, wrote Flammarion and got the

following answer :30

My dear Doctor:

The story has been somewhat expanded. I don't know the name of the

person whose dorsal skin was delivered to me by a physician to use for binding.

It was a matter of carrying out a pious vow. Some newspapers, expecially

in America, published the portrait, the name, and even the photograph of the

chateau where "the countess" lived. All of that is pure invention.

The binding was successfully executed by Engel, and from then on the

skin was inalterable. I remember I had to carry this relic to a tanner in the

Rue de la Reine-Blanche, and three months were necessary for the job. Such an

idea is assuredly bizarre. However, in point of fact, this fragment of a beautiful

body is all that survives of it today, and it can endure for centuries in a

perfect state of respectful preservation.

The desire of the unknown woman was to have my last book published

at the time of her death bound in this skin: the octavo edition of the Terres

du ciel published by Didier enjoys this honor.

Your reader and admirer,

Flammarion

A binder who was actively engaged in anthropodermic bibliopegy on

the other side of the Rhine prior to the first World War was Paul

.9A similar penchant for tanned skin with tattoos was revealed in a short article

by R. W. Hackwood, "Human Skin Tanned," Notes and Queries, 3rd series, X (Oct.

27, 1866), 341.

'E. Leclerc, "Reliures en peau humaine," Papyrus, VIII (1927), 742; a picture

of this binding was printed by Blumenthal, op. cit., p. 122.

100

TANNED HUMAN SKIN

Kersten.31 On of the most famous of his numerous anthropodermic

bindings is a volume of anatomical papers by L'Admiral, fully equipped

with doublures of "graveyard" mole and a panel stamp showing a skull

and the silhouette head (of the original owner of the binding?). Once

in the private library of Hans Friedenthal, it is now one of the most

unusual pieces in the collection of the Lane Medical Library of Stanford

University.

Some attention has already been devoted to the combination of

erotomania and bibliomania in the field of anthropodermic bibliopegy.

Some perverted minds have let their imaginations run riot on the subject.

The Mercure de France reported in September, 1920, that it was fortunate

that Goron of the Paris police needed a cardcase instead of a tobacco

pouch, for otherwise a different portion of Pranzini's corpse might have

been defiled. Nevertheless, it is reliably known that a certain famous

American burlesque queen actually does carry a coin purse made of a

male scrotum. But the ultimate in the imagination of the erotomaniacs

was attained when Otto F. Babler32 smirked over a possible appropriate

binding for the medieval tract De serto virginum.

The breast fetishists such as Dr. V. and the clients of the Clamart

interns have been especially active in the pursuit of their hobby. That

paragon of pornographers, Iwan Bloch, gleefully reported the use of the

female breast as the covering for books.33 Some bibliomaniacs have books

bound with women's breasts so that the nipples form characteristic

protuberances on the outer part of the back and front covers.34

Even the most famous anthropodermic tale of the middle ages has

been given an erotic turn. According to Robert Burton, the famous

Hussite general John Zisca "would have a drum made out of his skin

when he was dead, because he thought the very noise of it would put

his enemies to flight, I doubt not but these following lines, when they

shall be recited, or hereafter read, will drive away melancholy (though I

be gone) as much as Zisca's drum could terrify his foes."35 G.-J.

Witkowski's grossly vulgar Tetoniana: anecdotes historiques et religieuses

sur les seins et l'allaitement, comprenant l'histoire du decolletage

'3 In addition to his article in Die Heftlade, see also his "Bucheinbaende in

Menschenhaut," Zeitschrift fur Buicherfreunde, II (Teil 2, 1910-11), 263-4, and G. A. E.

Bogeng in the Zeitschrift fir Bucherfreunde, Neue Folge, V (Teil 1, Beiblatt, 1913-14),

79-80.

' "Anekdoten iuber Biicher und deren Liebhaber," Die Buichersiube, V (1926-27),

228.

Bogeng, "Kuriosa. I.," loc. cit.

34Jackson, op. cit., p. 509.

The Anatomy of Melancholy, edited by Floyd Dell and Paul Jordan-Smith (New

York, Farrar & Rinehart, c. 1927), p. 30. Blumenthal, op. cit., claims that it was a

"Janizary drum" now in the Bavarian Armee-Museum.

101

LAWRENCE S. THOMPSON

et du corset36 claims that the skin of Zisca's breast was used to make this

drum. An alleged picture of the instrument drawn to such specifications

is reproduced. However, for all the notoriety attained by Zisca's drum,

it seems more than likely that the whole story is an enormous propagandistic

fabrication of the Counter-Reformation.

As the result of investigations in German concentration camps by

Allied officers, it has been fairly well established that the Nazis were

also attached to human skin not belonging to themselves. Sir Bernard

Spilsbury, the British pathologist, identified as human leather pieces of

hide obtained by the eight M.P.s and the two peers who inspected

Buchenwald.37 One of these pieces clearly had formed part of a lampshade

at one time; and it was said that Frau Koch, wife of the German

commanding officer, collected other articles made of human skin.

Kenneth L. Dixon, an Associated Press staff writer, reported that one

Karl Voelkner, another Buchenwald official, confessed to American CIC

agents that lampshades had been made of human skin at that infamous

institution.38

The literature of anthropodermic biblopegy is far more extensive

than the few notes of medical interest in the present article. Such refinements

of the subject as autoanthropodermic bindings such as Kauffmann's

work or the legal aspects of flaying as punishment belong to

another story.

3 Paris, A. Maloine, 1898; p. 56.

The Daily Mail, April 28, 1945.

-"Puerto Rico World-Journal, May 27, 1945.

102

 

=======================================

THE MACABRE: Human skin

[WARNING: Lest the title above not be enough, be aware that what follows is often graphic, sometimes even horrifying, and very much NOT the kind of thing everyone wants to read.

Now that I've got the interest of our teen readers....]

 

The item this week about a 300 year old volume wrapped in human skin coincided nicely with my visit to Los Angeles' Natural History Museum to see some of the "Bog People": (though I was sorry not to see the other-worldly Tolland Man.) A little research on the Web uncovered the Wikipedia's article on "Anthropodermic bibliopegy":

 

Surviving historical examples of this technique include anatomy texts bound with the skin of dissected cadavers, volumes created as a bequest and bound with the skin of the testator, and copies of judicial proceedings bound in the skin of the murderer convicted in those proceedings. The libraries of many Ivy League universities include one or more samples of anthropodermic bibliopegy. The rare book collection at the Langdell Law Library at Harvard University holds a book, Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias Hispaniae, a treaty of Spanish law. A faint inscription on the last page of the books states: * 'The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my deare friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King btesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace." (The Wavuma are believed to be an African tribe from the region currently known as Zimbabwe.)'

It turns out too that Harvard Law School's the Record has an extensive article on the subject: "Books Bound in Human Skin; Lampshade Myth? - Deviant Behavior" by Dan Alban. A book held by the Boston Atheneum is described here: "The human-skin book" and shown (with a link to its contents) on the Atheneum's own site: Narrative of the life of James Allen, alias George Walton, alias Jonas Pierce, alias James H. York, alias Burley Grove, the highwayman. Being his death-bed confession, to the warden of the Massachusetts state prison.) There's even a poem on the subject: "This Book in Human Skin".) Otherwise it turns out the Intermediare des Chercheurs discussed this subject for decades, from its second issue on. The initial subject quickly divides into several others, as follows:

 

BOOKS (IN AND ON)

WEARABLES

THE TANNERY OF MEUDON

ENTIRE HUMAN SKINS

ZISKA'S DRUM

And that's without addressing the practice of collecting tatoos on human skin (a large subject in itself.) One BIG warning in reading the following: much of this material is from the nineteenth century, when wounds from the Revolution were still fresh (or carefully nourished) on each side. While truly hideous acts have been fairly documented under the Revolution, even some serious historians of this period were probably tempted to darken the balance sheet of the Revolutionaries wherever they could. Some of what follows - barring further confirmation - may be as much a record of ideas of the time as it is of any historical reality.

 

- BOOKS (IN AND ON)

An article in the Magasin Pittoreseque entitled "Singular Bindings" discusses not only bindings in human skin, but in that of numerous exotic animals, not to mention novelties such as musical bindings (a kind of abbreviated music box) (No 69 - 1901 (71-72). (The article itself is largely drawn from items in the Intermediaire.): "Who has not heard of bindings in human skin? Numerous examples of these bindings exist and human skin provides... [says a specialized leather review] 'an excellent leather, a leather that is quite solid, thick and grained' ". (Another item in the Intermediaire quotes a contrary opinion: "the skin is not attractive as a binding, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to completely degrease it." The writer adds "these differences in opinion surely arise from the condition of those who have provided the skin. Only the skin of bodies without illness, healthy and robust, gives good results." (1910-2 (270))) The article then cites an English anatomy text bound in human skin by Doctor Antoine Askew (d. 1773) "so that the outside of the work matched the interior" and, also in England, two volumes covered with the skin of Mary Ratman, "a Yorkshire witch, executed for murder in the first years of the 19th century". A Cincinnati businessman owned two works by Sterne, one, the "Sentimental Journey", bound in a black woman's skin and the other, "Tristram Shandy", in that of "a young Chinese woman" (meaning only that the skin appeared Asian?). In France, a 13th century bible owned by the Sorbonne was said to be bound in human skin.

 

The most frequently cited volume from the Revolutionary period was sold at auction in 1864 : "No. 409. Constitution of the French Republic, Dijon. Causse, year II (1793), 1 vol in-18, pap. vel., bound in human skin."(IC 1869 (181)) With it were a handwritten note and a poster printed on blue paper, both affirming that it was bound in human skin. The poster was produced by Galetti, a journalist who'd been accused by the Committee of Public Safety of revealing [sic] the existence of tanneries of human skin. A subscriber to his paper found this volume, which was said to prove Galetti's claim. The volume then went for 226 francs (IC 1869 (323)). The volume was later determined to be that of a woman. When it was sold again in 1872, the Figaro wrote of how people complained about inflation, then went on: "There is something, nonetheless, whose value has not increased, that is human skin." The paper then says that, the second time around, this volume brought in no more than 185 francs. "Such is our worth!" ("Ce que c'est de nous!") (1913 (264)). A contributor who had seen a 1793 copy of the Constitution in Lyons at the Palais des Arts said "this binding does not show any difference with the ordinary dark tint of the faun color." (1882 (446)). For those who want to judge for themselves, there is apparently a copy at the Carnavalet Museum: "Just why the "Constitution de la Republique Fran?aise" should have been so covered is a mystery, yet several copies are known, one of which is at present in the Museum Carnavalet at Paris." The Courier of the Somme is cited (without a date) as saying that a 1765 edition of the Encyclopedia was bound this way in 1793: "This kind of binding was widely used: there were factories where human skin was tanned absolutely like the leather of cattle or horses, and handsome volumes were made from it which sold at insane prices." The library of Macon possessed a copy of L'Essai sur l'electricite des corps by Abbe Nollet (1746) which, according to an old note, was bound with human skin. This skin was said to be "without grain,... extraordinarily fine and lightly soapy to the touch." (1910-2 (771)) A version of Decretales, then (1869) held by the Imperial Library (now the BNF), was said by a librarian of the Revolutionary period to be written on human skin (1869 (396)).

 

A Paris volume of Hans Holblein's Danse Macabre is also said to have "once" been bound this way (1886 (202)). The Magasin article also cites a copy of Suard's Opuscules Philosophiques from the library of a Monsieur de Musset (possibly the poet's father) said to be bound in human skin, which bore a note that it had been bound in 1796 for 20 france by "Derrome". (In 1881, says the Intermediaire, the Arrigoni bookstore (Milan?) offered this work for 200 francs (1882 (394)))).

 

Among the 19th century examples in that article it is hard to resist mentioning the gift supposedly made to Camille Flammarion by a countess whose shoulders he had admired - the skin from the shoulders, which he used to bind a copy of Terre et Ciel.

A 1793 copy of L'Almanach des Prisons was apparently bound later in the skin of a childhood friend of a Reverdin, a Geneva surgeon. This friend left him both his fortune and his skin. Reverdin took a hand's width of skin from the chest and tired unsuccessfully to get it tanned in Geneva. Finally he got it done in Annecy "where he was made to pay for this simple task an exorbitant price, on the rather bizarre pretext that the workers were disgusted." As was Reverdin, when he received the piece of leather, "dyed black, dulled, oily and, surprisingly for a piece of skin from the chest, very thick..." He gave it to Marcellin Pellet, a French diplomat and scholar of the Revolution, who used it to bind the volume in question. (IC 1912-2 (125-126))

 

It would not be surprising to find Sade's works bound this way and one writer in the Intermediare had seen such a volume in a bookstore on the rue de Seine, with a note by the binder Lortic that it was bound in human skin. The binder claimed not only that it was the "untinted" skin of a woman, but that he knew the woman's name. However, the skin, says the writer, looked a great deal like pigskin. (1910-2 (96-97)

 

- WEARABLES

The rather grisly question of human skin being made into wearable items arose before the Revolution; the Encyclopedia's article on "Human Skin" (Vol. XII) not only explains in detail how to tan it, but goes on to say: "M. Sue, a Paris surgeon, gave the king's Cabinet a pair of slippers made of human skin." Such mentions become less neutral with writing on the Revolution.

 

An eyewitness from Angers, 13 or 14 and a shepherd at the time of these events, is quoted in the Intermediaire on the treatment of some who were shot by the republican army in the Vendee: "They were skinned at the midpoint of the body, because the skin was cut below the belt, then along the thighs until the ankle... so that, after its removal, the pants were partly formed; all that remained to do was to tan and to sew." Cretineau-Joly (Histoire de la Vendee Militaire) is quoted as saying that the republican general Beysier was the first to wear this "awful trophy", but that the fashion caught on there and in Nantes (1881 (745-746)). Another item cites three different official accounts from Anjou telling how Pequel, an army surgeon, flayed several Vendeeans who had been shot at Ponts-de-Ce and then tried to force a local tanner to prepare them. He and others refused but someone - apparently under constraint - finally did so. The report of the Popular Society of Angers to the Convention makes it clear that this was done unofficially: "These cannibals have pushed barbarity to the point of choosing, among these poor people, a hundred of the best looking, who were skinned and their skins tanned! Men who called themselves patriots dressed themselves in this awful garment!" (1910-2 (156))

 

More severe official sanctions were delivered elsewhere, as witnessed by this List of Citizens arrested by the Commission of Haut-Rhin: "Morel, surgeon, for having skinned a guillotined person to make himself pants, the tanner who tanned the skin and the tailor who kept it in his shop, showing it to all comers." (1913 (722)) In some cases, erotic or even romantic motivations are cited.

 

One of the more colorful (and so dubious) stories, from J. B. Harmand de la Meuse's Anecdotes relatives a quelques personnes et a plusieurs evenements remarquables de la Revolution concerns Saint-Just: "A young woman, tall and shapely, refused Saint-Just's advances; he had her taken to the guillotine. After the execution he wanted to be shown the cadaver and to have the skin removed... [which] he had prepared by an oil tanner and wore it as breeches. I have this revolting fact from the very person who was charged with these preparations and who 'satisfied the Monster'. " He goes to say that the man told him the story in his cabinet in the presence of two other people. Harmand says that others followed Saint-Just's example and even sold the resulting products. He adds that one man used the same means to preserve a departed lover. He also speaks of oil from cadavers that had been sold more recently (1818?) for use in enamellers' lamps. (76, cited in IC 1875 (720)) The Baron de Saint-Frusquin later adds: 'Saint-Just belonged to this cate gory of false philosophers out of which came the Marquis de Sade and other novelists... Saint-Just's order (if this order was carried out) constitutes a manner, as rare as it is superficial, of entering into possession of the desired person."(1875 (426)) (all of which sounds quite Freudian for 1875).

 

- THE TANNERY OF MEUDON

The question of whether a human tannery existed at Meudon or elsewhere has been debated over decades in the pages of the Intermediaire. The Goncourt's Histoire de la Societe Francaise pendant le Directoire is cited as quoting the first mention of the tannery of Meudon (1880 (580)). A revolutionary report dated August 14, 1793 is quoted as saying "Human skin is tanned at Meudon" and as discussing the relative merits of male and female skin. (1910-2 (156)) R. L. Jacob (the "Bibliophile Jacob", a frequent contributor) says: "these tanneries were active, it is an established fact, and the large poster, displayed in Paris in 1794 to denounce the fact, declares that the principal establishment of this type was in Meudon." He cites two different people who told him they had worn breeches of human skin themselves, one who stated that they were "very well tanned, very supple and very comfortable," and offers a long quote from Dusaulchoy de Bergemont's Mosaique histoirque, litteraire et politique, 1818 (I-146):

 

What people in Europe does not take as a fable the establishment of the tannery of human skin at Meudon? Nonetheless one remembers that a man came to the bar of the Convention to announce a new and simple procedure for procuring an abondance of leather; that the Committee of Public Saftey granted him the locale of the Chateau de Meudon, whose doors were carefully closed, and that finally several members of this committee were the first to wear boots made of human leather.

Jacob adds that Dusaulchoy's credibility is helped by the fact that he might have seen such boots himself.(IC 1873 (460-461)) However, an F. Bruand, responding in IC 1874 (37-38), says "this picturesque and ridiculous legend has been exploded [by] Louis Combes [in the] 'Amateur d'Autographes' of March 1, 1864" and says that the same poster offered as proof is reproduced and refuted in this work. A second writer adds "M. Combes' discussion is closely reasoned, and under his vigorous effort, the human skin supposedly tanned in the old parish of the joyous Rabelais cracks and rips."

 

A later writer (1881 (747)) also questions the account but says that the idea was in the spirit of Carrier's order to make lard from human bodies which was then sold at Nantes, and of Roland's suggestion to the Academy of Lyons that oil and phosphoric acid be extracted from the dead, as per an unadmiring note in Taine's "The French Revolution" (II, Ch. 4):

 

Roland is an administrative puppet and would-be orator, whose wife pulls the strings. There is an odd, dull streak in him, peculiarly his own. For example, in 1787 (Guillon de Montléon, "Histoire de la ville de Lyon, pendant la Révolution," 1.58), he proposes to utilize the dead, by converting them into oil and phosphoric acid.

Carlyle did not think much of the tale either:

 

The Abbe Montgaillard has shrewdness, decision, insight; abounds in anecdotes, strange facts and reports of facts: his book, being written in the form of Annals, is convenient for consulting. For the rest, he is acrid, exaggerated, occaionally altogether perverse; and, with his hastes and his hatreds, falls into the strangest hallucination; as, for example, when he coolly records that... D'Orleans Egalité had "a pair of man-skin breeches,"- leather breeches, of human skin, such as they did prepare in the tannery of Meudon, but too late for D'Orleans.

Thomas Carlyle, Critical and miscellaneous essays, Philadephia, 1852.(506)

Finally, here is a firsthand account of, not the tannery itself, but of the idea of it:

 

It was whispered that some [members of the Convention in a procession] had men's skins from the tannery of human leather established at Meudon.... I neither affirm nor contest this. But what I can state with confidence is that everybody then believed it. Despite the terror which then ruled, this was said more or less out loud; in Meudon above all no one doubted it and the inhabitants of this village pointed out, with a mysterious terror, the windows of the low room of the chateau where according to them this terrible operation took place... And why not? Do you think it was a great slander on many leaders of the revolutionary government to suppose them unscrupulous enough to make close-fitting pants with the skin of their victims?... Cannibals could have taken lessons in ferocity from those people.

George Duval, Souvenirs de la Terreur de 1788 a 1793, (Paris, 1842) (355).

- ENTIRE HUMAN SKINS

Some tanned human skins were displayed as-is. Pepys records this visit in his diary: "Then to Rochester, and there saw the Cathedrall, which is now fitting for use, and the organ then a-tuning. Then away thence, observing the great doors of the church, which, they say, was covered with the skins of the Danes," Pepys, April 10, 1661. A note to the above says:

 

Dart, in his "History of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's, Westminster," 1723 (vol. i., book ii., p. 64), relates a like tradition then preserved in reference to a door, one of three which closed off a chamber from the south transept--namely, a certain building once known as the Chapel of Henry VIII., and used as a "Revestry." This chamber, he states, "is inclosed with three doors, the inner cancellated, the middle, which is very thick, lined with skins like parchment, and driven full of nails. These skins, they by tradition tell us, were some skins of the Danes, tann'd and given here as a memorial of our delivery from them." Portions of this supposed human skin were examined under the microscope by the late Mr. John Quekett of the Hunterian Museum, who ascertained, beyond question, that in each of the cases the skin was human. From a communication by the late Mr. Albert Way, F.S.A., to the late Lord Braybrooke.

THE DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS M.A. F.R.S. WITH LORD BRAYBROOKE'S NOTES EDITED WITH ADDITIONS BY HENRY B. WHEATLEY F.S.A.

According to Le Cicerone de Versailles, printed under the Revolution (floreal, year XII), "The cabinet of natural history created in the palace of Versailles, year IV of the Republic, held... 'a human skin, white, and tanned with the greatest care, on which the hair and the nails were preserved' " (IC 1869 (395)). L'Itineraire de la France is quoted as saying that the museum of Nantes had the well-preserved skin "of a Republican soldier, killed in 1793 by the Vendeens during the siege of Nantes." (IC 1874 (179)). "An old Nantais" saw this in 1887 in the Museum of Natural HIstory and said that it belonged to a drummer of the armies of the First Republic who had left it to the Nation. (1910-2 (771)). An 1890 item entitled "A crucifix of human skin" may or may not be about that exact subject. The writer saw this crucifix - really a life-sized Christ, known as El Santisimo Cristo - four times at Burgos. Though sometimes credited to Nicodemus himself, it appeared to be either medieval or sixteenth century. He offers a long list of quotes on it by other writers, variously saying that:

 

The hands and the feet are really covered with slightly wrinkled human skin... The nails still stick to the skin... The wooden head is fastened to the bust with a perfectly adapted piece of skin.. Is it human? We think so...

or that it is an entire, stuffed, human skin, or the skin of a seal put on a human skeleton, or a wooden sculpture covered with a buffalo's skin. (18990 (537-538)). Anyone who wants to do a search on "Burgos Christ skin" will find various modern references like the following:

 

Christ, so revered at Burgos that no one is allowed to see it unless the candles are lighted, is a striking example of this strange taste: it is neither of stone, nor painted wood, it is made of human skin (so the monks say), stuffed with much art and care. The hair is real hair, the eyes have eye-lashes, the thorns of the crown are real thorns, and no detail has been forgotten. Nothing can be more lugubrious and disquieting than this attenuated, crucified phantom with its human appearance and deathlike stillness; the faded and brownish-yellow skin is streaked with long streams of blood, so well imitated that they seem to trickle.

http://www.oldandsold.com/articles04/article1494.shtml

- ZISKA'S DRUM

The idea that the skin of the Hussite commander Jan Ziska was turned into a drum, possibly at his own request, was also debated in the Intermediaire. In 1843, the Magasin Pittoresque published an article on Ziska which without confirming or refuting this claim says (132): "It is sure that a drum made with human skin, said to be that of Ziska, was, in the last century, transported from Bohemia to Berlin." and cites a letter (November 15, 1743) from Voltaire to Frederick which included this poem:

 

Is it true that, in your court,

You have placed, this autumn,

Among the furnishings of the crown,

The skin of this famous drum

That Ziska made of his person?

 

The skin of a great man, buried,

Is normally not much, and, despite his apotheosis,

By worms is devoured.

Only Ziska was spared

The destiny of the black tomb

 

Thanks to his preserved drum

His skin lasts as much as his glory!

It is a rather singular fate.

Ah! Pitiful mortals that we are

To save the skins of great men,

It must be dressed.

 

Oh my King! Conserve your own;

Because the good Lord who made it for you

Would not know how to make you another

In which he might put as much wit.

Frederick's response, starting in verse but ending in prose, basically says, "Yes, we took it." The article includes an image of the (rather banal looking) drum, itself copied from another work. A writer in the Intermediare says, based on work by Palacky, a historian of Bohemia, that "The Magasin Pittoresque... has repeated.. a purely fictive tradition, invented by Catholic historians to give Ziska the fierce character of a bandit." (1869 (641-642). George Sand, who wrote a book about Ziska, mentions this tale and its history with, at best, ambivalence.

 

For more about Ziska, search for his name in the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on "Hussites".

 

 

 

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A Brief History of the Human Leather Trade, 1903

 

Added By: R. Brock   On: July 14, 2010

 

 

Ogden Standard, Ogden City, Utah25 April 1903

 

TANNING HUMAN SKIN

 

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Happening to come across the other day the catalogue of a book auction in 1864, when a book on the Constitution of the French Republic, bound in human skin in the year 1793, was offered for sale, a book lover was prompted to inquire whether the human skin had ever been put to such a use before or since.

 

The inquiry led to a number of surprising revelations. It was not merely during the excesses of the French Revolution that such things were done, but as long ago as the thirteenth century he found there were in existences several such books, including a Latin Bible very handsomely engrossed upon a woman’s skin. In 1765 the “French Encyclopedie” gave a recipe for tanning human skin, and stated that M. Sue, a surgeon in Paris, had presented the King with a pair of slippers made of human skin, according to this prescription.

 

 

 

During the reign of Napoleon III, a copy of the Decretals, written on human skin, was found in the library of the Sorbonne and transferred to the Tulleries. John Ziska, the one-eyed chief of the Hussites, ordered in his will that his skin should be tanned and made into a drum. “The noise which my skin will make,” said he, “will frighten away all our enemies and put them to flight.”

 

It was, however, at the time of the French Revolution that this art was developed to its greatest extent. A man presente himself one day at the bar of the Convention and announced that he had devised a simple and original scheme for procuring leather in abundance. The Committee of Public Safety granted him a concession of the Castle of Meudon, where he carried on his work with a certain amount of secrecy. In return for the concession of the members of the committee were privileged to be among the first to wear top boots made of human skin.

 

The tannery of Meudon acquired considerable notoriety. A great number of books were bound with the leather turned out there, and Phillipe Egalite, Duke of Orleans, encouraged the tannery by wearing a pair of breeches made there with human skin at a ball in Palais-Royal. The republican General Beysser, who made himself a name by his ferocity in the wars of La Vundee, set the fashion of wearing similar trousers in the army, always wearing a pair at battles and at reviews.

 

An old soldier who had taken part in most of the campaigns of the French Revolution, told a writer of memoirs in the middle of this century that he had owned a specially fine garment of this kind, made entirely of one piece. An architect, who was one of the leaders of the infamous Black Band of France in 1823, which for a long time terrorized the country districts in the West of France, wore a jacket made of human skin, comely and exceedingly comfortable.

 

The infamous Saint-Just, when at the height of his power during the Reign of Terror, caused a young and beautiful girl, who had refused his advances, to be arrested and sent to the scaffold. After the execution he obtained possession of the body, flayed himself and had the skin tanned and made into a waste coat, which he wore till the day of his death. The tannery of Meudon and its imitators carried on the process on an extensive scale, and must have made a good deal of money by tanning the skins of the victims of the Revolution for every sort of commercial purpose.

 

Oil extracted from human bodies was also placed upon the market and sold.

 

Since those days the process has naturally become much rarer, but Dibdin relates how at a comparatively recent date a collector possessed a treatise on sport bound in stag’s skin; a copy of Fox’s “History of James II.,” bound in fox’s skin and a book on anatomy bound in human skin. In 1837 the narrative of the adventures of a highwayman was bound in his own skin at Boston, Mass., with inscription in Latin outside, “This book was bound in the skin of Walton.”

 

 

 

Shoes of Human Skin, 1879

 

Added By: R. Brock   On: January 22, 2010

 

 

Titusville Herald, Titusville Pennsylvania28 August 1879

 

THE SKIN OF A BELLE

 

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Silly Freak of a Medical Student Who Encases His Feet in Human Leather - Robbing a Beautiful Corpse of its Covering

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

A few days ago we reproduced from the Lafayette Courier an article that seemed to us to be the silly boasting of some fledgling sawbones. In order to ascertain whether or not there was a substratum of truth in the story, we telegraphed our Lafayette correspondent, and instructed him to furnish us with the facts in the case. Last night we received the following letter from him:

 

Lafayette, Ind, August 5

 

Several days since the Evening Courier, of this city, published a somewhat lengthy account of a young doctor in this city having worn a pair of shoes from the skin of a Cincinnati Belle. The story, as told by the Courier, your correspondent is assured, was substantially as reported by well authenticated rumor to the city editor of that paper. In the account it is stated that “the young student said he was one night sought out by a resurrectionist famous among the medical men, who offered to sell him a subject just snatched from a city cemetery. How the corpse, that of a beautiful young girl, whose white flesh and the costly ring on her smooth, soft hand, showed to be of no poor family, was bought by several of the students, and now, when the body, slashed by the knife of the dissector, lay upon the table, he crept in and cut the skin from the “round limbs.” This was sent to a tanner, who in due time prepared the skin and sent it by express to the young student in this city. The leather was then taken to a well-known shoemaker, who fashioned it into a pair of shoes.

 

The representative of the Enquirer sought the young man, Edward Carnahan, this morning and learned from him the following, which is submitted as the result of the interview: Carnahan attended the Miami Medical College of Cincinnati during the past collegiate year. His attention had been called to a pair of boots of a dark olive color on exhibition at the Centennial. They had been made from human skin. A great many people who saw the boots naturally revolted at the idea. There were various opinions upon the matter. How it affected Carnahan I know not. Last winter, on one occasion having paid for the subject assigned him and his fellow student, he felt privileged, in the callous license of the dissecting room, to use it as he deemed proper. He cut from the body a portion of the skin. He did not know who the corpse was. The personal identity of the subject was never established, even to the demonstrator himself. Having secured the skin from the body, it was given to a Cincinatti tanner, and about five or six weeks ago was sent C.O.C. to young Carnahan. He made no secret of it. He received it publicly. The shoemaker, Mr. Filt, made the shoes. The only part of the shoes which is human skin in the upper. The leather is as soft as kid. It has the texture of the best French calf, and is only distinguished from that leather by the human pores distinctly visible in the olive color of the under or untanned side. The story about the ring, as well as the identity of the subject as a Cincinnati belle, was an embellishment for which the young student is in no way responsible. He is a young gentleman of the highest social position and personal worth. The whole matter resolves itself into this: Out of mere curiosity he desired a pair of shoes made from human skin, and he got them”

 

Accompanying this letter were a number of others from reputable parties in Lafayette, vouching for young Carnahan’s respectability and social standing, and requesting us to keep him name out of the paper. We have not desire to be hard on any young person, and, had his offense been simply a student’s freak, these letters might have had some weight with us, though our mission is to print, not suppress. In this case, however, Carnahan has shown much heartlessness and contempt for the dead that we loath to believe him a fit and proper person to minister to the needs of the afflicted living. He had better turn his attention to some business requiring little or none of the finer sensibilities of humanity. Quarrying granite might afford him the proper field for the exercise of his peculiar talents.–Cincinnati Enquirer

http://www.devilspenny.com/2010/01/shoes-of-human-skin-1879/

 

 
 
 
 
 

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