A model hoof

During the recent reordering of the RCVS headquarters a 6 inch square box was found containing a cardboard model and a folded piece of paper.  Further investigation revealed it was something rather exciting – the pasteboard model of a horse’s hoof which accompanies Bracy Clark’s two page pamphlet A new exposition of the horses’ hoof.

Bracy Clark (1771-1860), the son of a Quaker, was born in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire.  According to Frederick Smith, in The early history of veterinary literature and its British Development Vol III, Clark  left school at 14 and was apprenticed to  a surgeon for seven years.    With the founding of the London Veterinary School in 1791 his thoughts turned to studying veterinary, rather than human, medicine and he enrolled at the London school some time during 1792, gaining his Diploma in July 1794.

A new exposition of the horses hoof

Signature and date

After a period touring the continent he opened a practice in Giltspur Street, London which mainly dealt with brewery horses.  Whilst in practice Clark developed an interest in shoeing, establishing a number of forges throughout the country. He was later joined at the practice by his nephew Charles Clark and appears to have retired from active work in 1828.

In retirement Clark, now settled at Taunton Street near Regents Park, devoted his energies to publishing and re-editing his own works and experimenting with shoeing.

The pamphlet found in the box A new exposition of the horses’ hoof  is dated 1820 and signed BC.   It starts:

“It would be difficult by words or description alone to convey a correct notion of the framing and construction of the Horses’ hoof: I have therefore invented a pasteboard model, which exhibits its nature and properties very familiarly.

In order to understand it, it will be necessary to take it to pieces a few times, and put it together again, when the simplicity and manner of its construction will be strongly and clearly impressed on the mind”

Model to accompany A new exposition of the horses hoof

Clark explains how to dismantle the model by withdrawing the pins (which can be seen in the photographs) and how to learn more of the structure of the hoof by studying how the labelled flaps connect and move etc.
Model to accompany A new exposition of the horses hoof

For example writing of the wall of the hoof which has been exposed by the removal of the frog and the sole from the model:

“by reversing the situation of the Bars or Inflexions,…we now discover that they are simply a continuation of the wall, obliquely growing narrower…We can now discern, that the wall and bars are one continued piece…of an obliquely cut cylinder…and the great simplicity and power of such an arrangement must call forth our exulted admiration…”

Model to accompany A new exposition of the horses hoof

The final paragraph of the pamphlet which explains how to put the model back together concludes:

“Now the Frog-band…completes the hoof: which is in fact not merely a rude covering of horn, as been apprehended, but an elastic machine, beautifully adapting itself to all degrees of exertion, or repose of the animal.”

Considering the model may be nearly 200 years old it is in very good condition – though as yet I have not been brave enough to take it apart.  This is due to the fact that it had its own lockable box – which in itself gives some indication of its value at the time the pamphlet was written.

At the moment we do not know how it comes to be in our possession but we do know that Bracy Clark  gave a complete set of his works to the RCVS library around the time he became a Vice President of the College in 1857.  So the ‘hoof’ could be Clark’s very own model, we will let you know what we find out!

Verbose and tedious…yet pearls in profusion

When writing blogs about veterinary authors I usually turn to Frederick Smith’s four volume work  The early history of veterinary literature and its British development to see what he has to say.  It is unusual to find that Smith does not have an opinion on the author or book in question.

Portrait of Sir Frederick Smith

Portrait of Sir Frederick Smith

We are fortunate to have a large archive of Smith’s material and I know, both from  the sheer volume of material and  the  exhaustive nature of the enquiries (into the content of the book and the background of the author) that are revealed in the papers, that his opinions are based on extensive research though sometimes expressed in colourful language.

Of  Bracy Clark, featured in my last blog post, he has this to say:

“Clark’s style of writing is always verbose and tedious …He perpetually wanders from his subject, so that fragments bearing on the same question crop up in the most unlikely places.  All his works have to be read and annotated in order to collect his views on any subject, especially as he never provides an index.”

He balances this with the following:

“No writer in the profession before or since Clark’s day has brought to bear such a degree of scholarship.  He takes us step by step through a wealth of learning and establishes his point…He had spent years in the study of Latin and Greek, and his deep knowledge of these subjects is reflected in his communications.”

Smith ends his discussion of Clark’s writings by quoting William Percivall in The Veterinarian (1854 p218) who said “No man, perhaps, ever wrote so learnedly so much to so little purpose”.  He agrees that this is indeed the case yet insists within Clark’s works  “pearls there are in profusion.”

If you are doing research on veterinary authors or particular books why not visit us to look at Smith’s research notes and then take a look at the items themselves and see if you agree with his conclusions.

The section on Bracy Clark is in  The early history of veterinary literature and its British development Volume 3 p35-58, it includes a list of around 70 of Clark’s publications.

A Welsh veterinary adviser

In honour of St David’s Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Wales, I have decided to look at one of the two Welsh language items  that we have in our collection Meddyg y fferm arweinydd i drin a gochel clefydau mewn anifeiliad by James Law which was published in 1881.

Plate 7 Cheviot Ram

Plate 7 Cheviot Ram

I am no Welsh language expert, so a friend has translated the title for me, and her translation leads me to believe that this is a Welsh language version of Law’s The veterinary adviser: being a guide to the prevention and treatment of disease in domestic animals which was first published c1879 running to at least 8 editions.

These English and Welsh versions have a number of features in common: they share a publisher, Thomas Jack of Edinburgh, and their pagination and number of plates and illustrations is the same which would appear to confirm my theory that they are one and the same

As the title suggests the book was intended to be a guide for the farmer to use when they were unable to get advice from a veterinary surgeon.  It offers practical veterinary advice on common diseases of domestic animals which the farmer can use instead of consulting a ‘quack’.

Plate 5 - Short Horned and Aberdeenshire Polled bulls

Plate 5 – Short Horned and Aberdeenshire Polled bulls

The preface of the 8th edition of The veterinary adviser,  written in 1896 when Law was working in America and at a time when the American veterinary profession was still in its infancy, expresses the aim of the book rather nicely:

“This work is especially designed to supply the need of the busy American farmer…we have…livestock estimated at $1,500,000,000…affording an almost unlimited field for the…pursuit of veterinary medicine…[yet] livestock is largely at the mercy of ignorant reckless pretenders whose barbarous surgery is only equalled by their reckless and destructive drugging…to give the stock owner such information [to allow] him to dispense with the…services of such pretenders…is the aim of this book”

The book also contains 24 full page illustrations showing breeds of livestock, three of which are shown here, and numerous other illustrations within the text.

Plate 1 English Cart Horse and th method of giving draughts to horses

Plate 1 – English Cart Horse and the method of giving draughts to horses

The author James Law, a 1861 graduate of the Dick Veterinary School in Edinburgh, had a prestigious teaching career in both Scotland and America. Following his graduation he taught at the New Veterinary College Edinburgh with John Gamgee.  He was then hired in 1868 by the newly formed Cornell University to teach biology, agriculture and veterinary medicine. It was at Cornell that his later writings, including his 5 volume Textbook of veterinary medicine, took shape.

 The inscription in the front of our copy of  Meddyg y fferm arweinydd i drin a gochel clefydau mewn anifeiliad  indicates that it was owned by a couple named Thomas who lived in Llangyfelach near Swansea.  Unfortunately we don’t know anything about them so we can’t say if they actually used the book to help  care for their animals.

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

A troubled artist: Sir Edwin Landseer

The RCVS headquarters tidy-up has revealed another gem, and led us to discover the fascinating story of a troubled man. Eight large prints of paintings by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873), depicting animals and bucolic scenes, have been discovered.

Landseer (1802-1873), an English painter, was renowned for his paintings of horses and dogs. Included in his artistic achievements are the lion sculptures in Trafalgar Square. His dog paintings of the 1830’s are by far his most popular work, ‘Dignity and Impudence’ (1839) being the most famous of all.

Edwin Landseers 'Dignity and impudence' 1839

Dignity and Impudence (1839)

The two dogs in the life sized ‘portrait’ belonged to Jacob Bell, a chemist, who commissioned the work. The bloodhound is called Grafton and the West Highland terrier is named Scratch. Landseer cleverly parodies the Dutch portraiture style, where the subject is framed by either a window or a door, with a hand hanging over the edge. According to the Tate’s summary of Landseer’s painting, Grafton was quite the bohemian and was a visitor at several artists’ studios in London but Scratch was Bell’s favourite of the two dogs. Apparently, Bell made a bet with the owner of a poodle that his West Highland terrier was the better looking of the two. Landseer was to be the judge, he took one look at Scratch and announced, without any prompting, ‘Oh what a beauty!’

Bell and Landseer’s lifelong friendship was founded on a mutual love of animals. Eventually Landseer came to rely on Bell as a business advisor, being ill equipped to deal with every day business matters. Along with Landseer’s brother James, Bell oversaw the commission and sale of his portraits, securing the very best prices. He took on rather more duties than a normal business manager might, as he was heavily involved in the rebuilding of Landseer’s home and helped him to purchase land.

Landseer was the youngest son of an engraver and initially developed his talents with his father. He was later sent, along with his two brothers, to study under Benjamin Robert Haydon, the historical painter, in 1815. It was Haydon who encouraged Landseer to study animal anatomy. His early paintings benefit from his excellent anatomical knowledge and portray a variety of moral messages which contributed to his popularity with his Victorian audience. His later work was marred by his sentimentality and the humanization of his animal subjects.

Landseer had social as well as professional success; his friends included Dickens and Thackeray. He moved freely in aristocratic circles and enjoyed royal patronage in the 1840s.  A favourite painter of Queen Victoria’s, she described Landseer as being ‘very good looking although rather short’. Landseer visited Balmoral in 1850 to paint a portrait of the royal family. The painting was never finished, and the failure of his first royal commission greatly contributed to his deteriorating mental health.

In 1840, Landseer suffered a severe mental breakdown, thought to be triggered by the Duchess of Bedford’s refusal of his marriage proposal (Incidentally, the Duchess was the originator of the very British concept of ‘afternoon tea’!). For the rest of Landseer’s life he was plagued by severe bouts of depression, exacerbated by his alcohol and drug use. His family had him declared insane in July 1872. Landseer died a year later on 1 October, 1873. The country mourned the loss greatly, shops and houses lowered their blinds, flags were hung at half mast and crowds lined the street to watch his funeral procession.

See our full collection of Edwin Landseer’s prints on our Facebook page.

Celebrating National Pet Month – a selection of open access resources on small animal medicine

dogandcat2_220widthThis year National Pet Month runs from 1 April- 6 May.  As their web site says they are on a mission to:

  • help promote responsible pet ownership across the UK
  • highlight the important work of pet care professionals and working companion animals
  • raise money for the nation’s pet care charities

As a library we have a role to play in supporting the work of pet care professionals and in particular vets.  As can be expected there is a huge range of resources available on small animals so in honour of National Pet Month we thought we would highlight a few of the open access (free) ones.

Acta veterinaria Scandinavia
Banfield Journal: Achieving Success in Practice which has a critically appraised topic in every issue!
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Journal of animal welfare law

For more open access veterinary journals

dogandcat_220widthReview articles:
Yeates, J., Everitt, S., Innes, J. F. and Day, M. J. (2013) Ethical and evidential considerations on the use of novel therapies in veterinary practice. Journal of Small Animal Practice, 54(3), pp. 119-123 This article reviews the ethical and evidential considerations of novel veterinary therapies while safeguarding the welfare of animals.
AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition

DeBusk, S., Silberstein, N. And O’Keefe, L. (eds.) (2011) Anesthesia for the vet practitioner. Rev. 3rd ed. [online] Portland : Banfield Pet Hospital. Available from http://www.banfield.com/Pet-Owners/About-Us/Medicine/Research/Anesthesia-Book [Accessed 18 April 2013]

PubMed Central – access to journals in biomedical, life-sciences and veterinary science
AVMA collections – a selection of articles from AVMA scientific journals that have the most practical application on specific subject areas e.g. Canine behaviour series, Disaster preparedness and response (including health of search and rescue dogs), Feral cats, Heartworm disease, Obesity in dogs, Rabies, Spay-neuter

For more open access databases

The International Veterinary Information Service (IVIS) provides free access to veterinarians, veterinary students, technicians and animal health professionals worldwide e.g.

American Association of Feline Practitioners Practice Guidelines (1998-)
European Association of Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging (2005-)
European Veterinary Conference (2007-)
European Society of Veterinary Orthopaedics and Traumatology(1998-)
North American Veterinary Conference (2005-)
World Small Animal Veterinary Association (2005-)

All you need to do is register with the website.

So as you can see there is a lot of information out there. Don’t forget if you need help finding your way through it all we are here to help.

First image by Claudio Matsuoka under this Creative Commons License
Second image by Carterse under this Creative Commons License
Third image by MarilynJane under this Creative Commons License
Fourth image by Ohnoitsjamie under this Creative Commons License

Images From The Past

A few weeks ago we were given three photographs by the great granddaughter of Richard Hughes, a well known veterinary surgeon who served on RCVS council from 1922-1934.

Richard Hughes, 1856-1951, graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1880.  He went on to run a practice in Oswestry from 1882-1926 and was awarded a fellowship of the RCVS in 1893.

An expert on cattle and a well known figure in and around his local community he was known to have a very strong work ethic, his obituary in the Border Counties Advertizer ascribes this to him being “…truly a Victorian in many ways”.

In 1950 Hughes was elected a lifelong member of the National Veterinary Medical Association, illustrating the importance attached to his work and the effect he had on the “status of the profession to which he belonged”.

His obituaries state that he left a lasting legacy, not only within his local community of Oswestry but also within the profession to which he dedicated his life’s work.

Thanks to the generous donation we now have a number of interesting photos to add to our collection.  The first photo shows an RCVS Council meeting in 1927. Interestingly the college is still in possession of a number of the items on view including the boards listing the Presidents of the College and the portrait of the first President Thomas Turner. Sadly though, the rather magnificent stain glass windows visible in the background are no longer with us in their entirety.

1927 Council Meeting

A second photo shows a ‘Complimentary banquet’ held at the Trocadero restaurant in 1906 for Sir John McFadyean – it looks a rather grand affair!

R. Hughes at the RCVS Banquet 1906

The last image is a group photo. The location and year of this image remain a mystery to us so if you have any ideas as to where it was taken and on what occasion do let us know.

Group photo outside of unknown building

Oxford Street’s pioneering veterinary surgeon

London, like most towns or cities, has lots of plaques commemorating people or events attached to its buildings.  Most of these plaques are above eye level and often go unnoticed by people passing by.

Site of plaque commemorating William Moorcroft

Site of plaque commemorating William Moorcroft

One such plaque is sited on the left-hand side of Oxford Street, when walking down from Marble Arch, on the block just before Portman Street.  As you can see from the photo above – it is quite hard to spot as it is small, high up and surrounded by garish shop displays.

A close up of the plaque, which was erected by the Veterinary History Society in 1982, reveals that it commemorates the fact that William Moorcroft, veterinary surgeon, lived and practiced on the site from 1793-1808.

Plaque on the site of William Moorcroft's practice

Plaque on the site of William Moorcroft’s practice

William Moorcroft 1767-1825 was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire the grandson of a wealthy landowner and farmer.  In the early 1780s he was apprenticed to a surgeon in Liverpool but during an outbreak of an unknown cattle disease he was recruited to help treat the stricken animals.  Moorcroft impressed the local landowners so much that they offered to underwrite his education if he gave up his plans to study surgery and went instead to the veterinary school in Lyon, France.

This he did, arriving in France in 1789, graduating a year or so later as the first Englishman to qualify as a veterinary surgeon.

Returning to London he set up in practice at 224 Oxford Street (the street has since been renumbered). In 1794 Moorcroft was made joint Professor, with Edward Coleman, of the London Veterinary College. However the arrangement only lasted a few weeks before he resigned seemingly because of the difficulties of combining academic life with a thriving business.  The Oxford Street practice continued to grow, with Moorcroft recruiting John Field, firstly as his assistant and then later as his partner, until it became one of the most lucrative in London.

As well as his work in the practice Moorcroft also purchased breeding stock for the East India Company and in 1803 was appointed manager of their stud in Essex.  Then in 1808 he was appointed as Superintendent of the East India Company’s stud in Bengal at a salary of £3,000 a year (the size of the salary offered to Moorcroft gives some indication of just how successful the practice must have been).

Thus began the part of his life for which Moorcroft is perhaps better known.  As well as improving the control of disease in the stud in Bengal he established a number of subsidiary studs and introduced a co-operative breeding programme with the local population.   However the breeding programme still did not produce the type of horse that was needed for cavalry and artillery purposes and Moorcroft began to look further afield.

In 1811 he travelled some 1500 miles across North India looking for new breeding stock. Then in May 1812 he set out on a second journey, with Captain Hyder Hearsey, this time looking for both horses and as a side issue the Tibetan shawl goat.  (Moorcroft saw the goat as offering an opportunity for increased trade between the company and the locals).

Their journey took them through Kumaon and the Niti Pass into Tibet, finally ending at Lake Manasarovar, and resulted in the purchase of Kashmir goats, some of which eventually ended up in Scotland, but little in the way of horses.  Perhaps not surprisingly Moorcroft’s employers were not impressed – his primary purpose had been to look for horses and he came back with goats! – and they curtailed his travels for a number of years.

In 1819 Moorcroft  embarked on what was to be his final – 6 year long – journey.  Visiting Ladakh (1820-1822), Kasmir and the Punjab (1822-1823), Afghanistan (1824-1824), Turkestan (1824-1825), finally reaching Bokhara, in modern Uzbekistan, on 25th February 1825.   He died from fever on the return journey on 27 August 1825.

William Moorcroft, – pioneering veterinary surgeon and Asian explorer – quite a story which the plaque only hints at.  Want to find out more? Then check out some of the books listed below.

Further reading

Alder, Garry (1985) Beyond Bokhara : The Life Of William Moorcroft, Asian Explorer And Pioneer Veterinary Surgeon, 1767-1825  London: Century Publishing

Irwin, John (1973) The Kashmir shawl   London : HMSO

Travels in the Himalayan Provinces of Hindustan and the Punjab, in Ladakh and Kashnair, in Peshawur, Kabul, Kunduz and Bokhara, from 1819 to 1825: by William Moorcroft and George Trebeck:  prepared from the press from original journals and correspondence by H. H. Wilson.  London: 1845 (reprinted  New Delhi : Sagar Publications 1971)  

The artistic Mr Mayhew

I have recently had the opportunity to look more closely at the almost 400 watercolours by Edward Mayhew that we acquired in 1990.

Edward Mayhew (1808-1868) was the brother of Henry Mayhew, founding editor of Punch.  It is thought he spent his early years in the theatre before enrolling at the London Veterinary College in 1843 when he was in his 30s.  He qualified as a member of the RCVS on 6 February 1845 and became a member of RCVS Council just over a year later.

Reports of the meetings in the three years Mayhew spent on Council show him to be a man who was not afraid to speak his mind, especially where the Professors at both the London and Edinburgh veterinary schools were concerned.  His rather short obituary in The Veterinarian (November 1868 p810) says very little about him except “He was well known as the author of several veterinary works.”

It is for two of  these veterinary works, Illustrated horse doctor  and Illustrated horse management , that the watercolours were prepared and most of them have counterparts in the published books.

The drawings, which were converted into woodcuts  for publication, reveal a man of no small artistic talent.

The collection includes illustrations:  of diseases

The stages of laminitis

The stages of laminitis

methods of treatment

Inserting a tube into the stomach of a horse

Inserting a tube into the stomach of a horse

show how horses, and their keepers, should be housed

Plan showing how a stable can have a grooms house attached alongside

Plan showing how a stable can have a grooms house attached alongside

They also reveal something of the social conditions at the time

A Peep into the Grooms Home

A Peep into the Grooms Home

My favourites are the ones which show Mayhew’s  sense of humour – for example this drawing titled ‘Never mount a strange horse in a crowded place.’  I particularly like the ‘flying’ dog on the bottom right!

Never mount a strange horse in a crowded place

Never mount a strange horse in a crowded place

 Update (25/8/15)

Whilst researching for my lastest blog post on Mayhew I found an interesting account of the Mayhew family in George Hodder’s  Memories of my time: including personal reminiscences of eminent men  (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1870)

The section on Edward Mayhew (pp58-62)  gives information on his health when producing these illustrations  and mentions that his brother Julius, an architect, helped with the illustrations and designs for the stables.

Happy 125th Birthday

A 125 years ago today the first issue of the Veterinary Record was published.  I have written about its founder William Hunting and his reasons for starting the journal before.  In fact I walk past a reminder of this everyday as his quote in the first editorial about the importance of recording observations and adding to the profession’s knowledge was engraved on a brass plaque after his death to sit alongside his portrait at the RCVS.

Plaque which accompanies the portrait of William Hunting

Plaque which accompanies the portrait of William Hunting

I was recently reminded that there is another publication, the Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics (now called the Journal of Comparative Pathology),  which is also celebrating its 125 anniversary this year.  The founding editor of this journal, John McFadyean, was another eminent member of the veterinary profession.  Unlike Hunting he did not reveal his reasons for starting the journal in the first issue but looking at the contents page for the first volume  you get some indication of his intentions from the range of subjects and authors.

John McFadyean founding editor of Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics

John McFadyean founding editor of Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics

Both the journals have been marking their anniversary year in some style. Veterinary Record is asking its readers to consider a list of 10 developments or events with significant impact on the veterinary profession and to vote on their favourite.  It is also publishing a number of articles giving a historical perspective on the development of a particular branch of veterinary science.

The Journal of Comparative Pathology has made is entire 125 year archive available online, and published a special anniversary edition In the special edition the link between the past and the present is explored through the publication of a 1901 article by Robert Koch alongside a new article which describes the importance of  Koch’s postulates to infectious disease research and proposes a new additional postulate .

We are fortunate to have all 125 years of both these journals in the Library so anyone wanting to explore the link between past and present knowledge, to find out more about the achievements of the profession, or to read about its trials and tribulations should pay us a visit.

What makes an item unique

At the recent Veterinary History Society meeting in Edinburgh  I took part in a panel discussion with a number of archivists. One of the things we were asked to discuss was what we particularly liked about our collections.

I had given this some thought but hadn’t really decided what I would say as there are so many things I like:  the window the material can provide into individuals lives; the beautiful illustrations, and the little things you come across by chance eg the tiny paper PDSA flag pinned to the corner of a letter from one of their supporters.

So what did I say? Well none of the above!  What I chose to talk about was how I was always thrilled to find dedications and annotations which, whilst we may have multiple copies of a book in our collection, make that particular item unique.

I have been thinking about this since and thought I would share one of my favourite examples of this in an ordinary looking book labelled ‘Clark’s veterinary treatises Vol 1’.

Contents list compiled by Bracy Clark

Contents list compiled by Bracy Clark

The book is a collection of 34 works by Bracy Clark.  Pasted into the inside is a handwritten sheet listing the contents.  The first work listed is  Hippodonomia, or the true structure, laws, and economy, of the horse’s foot also podophthora … which was written in 1829

Turning to pages 47-48 of the Podophthora we find Clark discussing the shuttle bone:

“[It is] sometimes fixed by this general contraction of parts, and is found adhering to the flexor tendon…No case of this sort had occurred to me… I have since ascertained that though such exist, they are comparatively cases of great rarity”.

At the foot of page 48 someone has added “I afterwards found it was more frequent than I at first believed at this period…”

Bracy Clark's later addition

Bracy Clark’s later addition

The phraseology leads me to believe that this is Bracy Clark saying that he has changed his mind about the rarity of this problem.

Looking back to the front of the item there is a very faint pencil note above the contents list, in what I know to be Frederick Smith’s handwriting, which reads:

“I take it the list is in Bracy Clark’s handwriting …it goes with a footnote … which evidently is him”

Annotation by Frederick Smith

Annotation by Frederick Smith

So a volume of Clark’s works, of which we have several, is not just  another one, it is – or would appear to be – unique in that Clark compiled it or at least owned it for long enough to list the contents and, more importantly, to note a development in his thinking.

As a final thought I wonder what libraries/archives would make of Frederick Smith and his pencil annotations these days?  It is not unusual to find ‘evidence’ of his research for the Early history of veterinary literature  in books in our collections.  I expect nowadays he would at the very least be ‘discouraged’ but looking at them nearly a century later they do add something to the individual items!