Ever felt like you're getting too intimate with the book? Here's some non family-friendly pictures of me poking around inside this nineteenth century Moveable Atlas of the Human Body.
It accompanies a nineteenth century textbook on human anatomy by G.J. Witkowski. There's no mention of who created the paper models, but they are incredibly intricate feats of engineering, full of holes, flaps and moving parts, so you can peel back the layers of the body one by one. They're also really beautiful and imaginative, with different kinds of paper and shapes used to represent the complexities of the anatomy. The pregnancy figure includes a tissue paper placenta and the foetus behind translucent fabric. And yes, there ARE movable flapped models of both male and female genitals.
Anatomical flap books have been using paper to show the complex arrangement of organs since the early modern period. They're sometimes called 'fugitive sheets' for reasons I'm not sure of, but I like the phrase. Andreas Vaselius produced one of the most famous examples in 1543 with De Humani Corporis Fabrica (“On the fabric of the human body”). They were produced as a kind of cut out book, so that anatomy students could hone their knowledge by assembling them themselves.
There's a long-standing set of connections between the book and the body, therefore. The anatomical atlas opened up the body, making every crevice and organ legible and visible. The body became an open book, with leaves that could be peeled back to uncover its mysteries. The strange thing about Witkowski's Atlas is that it's in separate volumes though; the eye, the brain, the hand, the legs are all within their own covers. The body is strangely dismembered. The other strange thing is how weirdly visceral it feels to be poking and prodding around in these paper organs.