Eckels Anatomical Aid, with original chart drawings (Heirloom anatomy guides from a family of undertakers)
Eckels Anatomical Aid belonging to Earl Clifton Miller (1887-1966) and pair of late 1930s anatomical charts by his son, Earl C. Miller, Jr. (1913-1988). The charts measure 22 x 14 inches, drawn in ink and colored pencil, signed and initialed by Earl C. Miller Jr. Eckels Anatomical Aid compiled and published by H.S. Eckels, Philadelphia ca. 1903. Pebbled cloth wallet-fold folio, 15.25 x 11.5 inches. Contains one stiff board with layered foldout diagrams on both sides (head, eye, ear); 8 canvas-backed leaves (4 in color), and additional foldout diagrams on each cover (torso inside the front cover, arm and leg at rear).
Eckels' folio reproduces several of the illustrations published in Knox & Graham Physicians' Anatomical Aid (without attribution), focusing on areas relevant to embalming. Eckel has added charts drawn from his own postmortem dissections at Eckels College of Embalming in Philadelphia (est. 1895)–principally a complete arterial system, proudly advertised as "The only specimen in the United States. Just Finished. The first exhibit."
There is no publication date and other copies are generally dated c. 1903 based on the date given on the dissection plates. This copy has a blurry “1905” stamped on the cover, not seen on other copies, that appears related to the original owner Earl C. Miller’s time as a student at Eckels College, where he would have used this aid and studied during Eckels' tenure.
Earl's father, Harry McCord Miller (1867-1932) operated a combined furniture store and funeral parlor in Mercer, PA. The businesses were eventually separated into Miller's of Mercer and Earl C. Miller and Sons Funeral Home, which operated until the 1970s. Per his obituary in The Pittsburgh Press, Earl C. Miller was a graduate of the Eckels College of Embalming in Philadelphia and had various involvements in professional and masonic organizations, serving as Master of Hebron Lodge 375, a charter member and past president of the Mercer Rotary Club, and president of the Western Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association.
Very much a collection of "working" items with commensurate soil and wear--rubbing and fraying to areas of the cloth, heavy dampstaining to the bottom board, considerable finger soil, creasing, and general wear from handling, though it is complete and intact. Miller has heavily annotated the Skeletal plate and superimposed a grid in pencil on the Muscular plate. The two charts drawn by Earl Jr. also have handling soil and wear. The coated paperboard has cracked along the folds, reinforced from the back with paper conservation tape. The charts were once taped together along the center, and have a corresponding double-sided type key that Miller taped along the edges to help fortify, but which has left some adhesive marks on the charts from being snugged in the folio.
Eckels' innovations in embalming were significant for the aesthetic of the dead and the health of the living. Amidst a growing understanding of the relationship between air quality and health, the hazards of overcrowded urban cemeteries were a matter of public concern. Eckels published 'Sanitary Science: a Reference and Text-Book for the Communicable Diseases: Disinfection and Chemistry for the Undertaker, as well as The Practical Embalmer, considered as a kind of companion to his anatomical aid.
An uncommon item with an acute sense of having been actively used by a student at Eckels College during its prime.