Some of the earliest movable books were medical textbooks. These encyclopedic affairs gave an overview of medical ailments and current remedies. Often times these books made their way into country doctor offices or medical schools. While the focus and illustrations varied, the format was invariably similar. A human figure was represented on a flap that could be peeled open to review the musculature level, giving way to the skeletal composition and allowing the view to work down to individual organs. These flaps are colorfully termed ‘fugitive sheets’ as they tend to break off at the crease and disappear from the book.
Today we get to see a fine example of this type of medical movable book with El Hombre. This Spanish edition was published in Madrid by Bailly-Bailliere in 1884. The tall folio contains 16 pages of text and one figure that the reader can dissect with a flick of the wrist. The illustration depicts a dashing mustachioed man that appears to be neutered in keeping with the morals of the era. Considering this was a medical book meant for physical education I am surprised that we are faced with a slick looking Ken doll without even a fig leave for modesty. I wonder what happened when there were medical issues that were not “covered” in El Hombre.