The Medical Pop-Up Book That Was a 17th Century Best-Seller

A medical flap book from the 17th century that details the human anatomy has been fully digitized. The book is a German translation of Johann Remmelin’s Catoptrum Microcosmicum, which was first published in Latin, in 1613. The original currently resides at Columbia University’s Augustus C. Long Health Services Library. Remmelin’s book was a best-seller in its day and was translated into Dutch and French. It was designed to target the layperson, rather than for medical students or physicians.

You can browse through the new digitized version of the book: 

The book contains close to 120 flaps, which illustrate layers of the human body for both men and women. Three plates display a man, woman, and the abdomen of a pregnant woman; a man alone; and a female alone.

Substantial repair work was carried out before the digitizing process could begin. Old stains were reduced by professional conservators using moisture and a suction device. The digitization team used glass to hold the paper up for photographs. The book was then rebound and the old binding was preserved so it could be available in the future.

For more information visit Columbia’s