The Hand of a Boy
with A Distempered Skin, and A Branch of the
Common Service- Tree
Engraving from George Edwards'
Gleanings of Natural History- Circa 1760.
The text which accompanied this
engraving in "Gleanings" recounts
how Edward Lambert, the so-called "Porcupine
Man," was shown before the Royal Society
of London in the 1750s, first alone and then
with his son, who had the same rare condition.
Later scientists have determined
that Edward Lambert suffered from a severe type
of the dermatological disorder ichthyosis hystrix.
Lambert passed the disorder only to his sons,
not his daughters. Billing themselves as "A
New Species of Man," Lambert and his children
and grandchildren traveled thoughout Europe
exhibiting themselves for a fee. Despite his
disease, Lambert lived to the age of 90 when
he died after an accident.
The artist added the branch of
the Service Tree for decorative purposes.
From the text of "Gleanings": "I then saw them both and examined
them very carefully. The father, whose name
is Edward Lambert, was born at Brandon in Suffolk
and is now about fortyyears of age, a good looking
well-shaped man of a florid complexion, and
when his body and hands were hid, seemed nothing
different from other people. But he was covred
with innumerable slender proturberances of a
wart-like appearance, some flattish at top,
others concave, some pointed like cones, other
irregular, standing pretty close together like
bristles in a bush..."
"But the most extraordinary
circumstance is that this man has six children,
all with the same rugged covering as himself,
the first appearance whereoff came on in about
nine weeks after their birth. One of them only
is now living, a pretty boy of eight years old..."
"The figure of the hand, expressed in this
plate, was taken after nature from the son.
I have shown the palm of the hand, thinking
that most expressive... the Common Service [plant]
is added, not only to decorate and fill up the
plate, but also to rectify a mistake in Mrs.
Blackwell's Herbal in the place of which she
has figured the Red Berried Ash, which she calls
the Common Service..."
We do not know which edition this
plate is from.
Engraved on old chainlinked paper.
Condition: Some light toning.
A few light spots. Otherwise very good. We are
not certain if the red lines ... which look
hand drawn .. are original to this work, or
if they are an embellishment added by a later
Dimensions of sheet: Approx.
22 X 29 cm
SOLD - Reference Only