Fantastic Finds for Friday: the Anatomical Drawings of Andrew McWhinnie

This month’s Fantastic Find is a collection of anatomical diagrams and sketches drawn with painstaking precision by the anatomist and general surgeon Andrew Melville McWhinnie.

Here at the RCOG archive we hold six plates taken from one of McWhinnie’s surgical publications. They were transferred to the Archive in 2012 during a reorganisation of the heritage collections and originally belonging to the late Mr Barnett (FRCOG) of Southsea. The plates feature in the library’s historic volume ‘A series of anatomical sketches and diagrams’ (1843) by McWhinnie and Thomas Wormald.

The first plate shows a cross section of the top of a human skull showing the cerebral nerves and eye.

Plate 4 shows portions of the temporal and sphenoid bones of the human cranium and part of the middle lobe of the brain.

The arm is also represented in the collection. Plate 17 represents a view of the axilla (the armpit) and plate 18 follows up with a sketch of the left elbow joint.

Plate 22 shows a plan of the vena portae, the system of blood vessels between the stomach, intestines, and liver.

The final plate, plate 23, shows under the surface of the liver of a foetus and the umbilical vein (fig. 1) and compares it to the liver of an adult human (fig. 2). Figure 3 in this plate shows a sketch of the foetal circulatory system.

Andrew McWhinnie was born in London in 1807 and was apprenticed to Edward Stanley, the Surgeon to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, in 1825 before becoming a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1830. While studying in Paris, McWhinnie gained an extensive knowledge of skin diseases which he used when establishing Blackfriars’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin with James Startin in 1841. Later he became Assistant Surgeon at Blackfriars’s Skin Hospital and was elected to Assistant Surgeon at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1854. He lived near the hospital he worked at, often operating in surgeries late into the night. He died on 27th February 1866.

[All images are from the RCOG archive, reference RCOG/S123.]

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