Producing the Atlas
The Atlas of Skin Diseases was among the most valued publications of the New Sydenham Society, which sought to facilitate dissemination of medical information by making important works available in English translation to subscribers as soon as possible after their original publication.
For a membership of twenty-one shillings--the equivalent of one hundred eighty dollars today--a member of the Society in 1864 received an installment of the Atlas of Skin Diseases—Morbus Addisonii (plate 11 shown here) and Leucoderma (plate 10) -- together with Johann Ludwig Casper, Handbook of the Practice of Forensic Medicine vol. III, F. C. (Francis Cornelius) Donders, On the Anomalies of Accommodation and Refraction of the Eye and the Yearbook for 1863.
An accompanying Descriptive Catalogue of The New Sydenham’s Society’s Atlas of Portraits of Diseases of the Skin, published in 1869 and 1875, by Johnathan Hutchinson, the Society’s secretary, provided information about each plate.
Pl. 11 Morbus Addisonii
Modern term: Addison’s disease
Adrenal failure with loss of pituitary feedback inhibition leads to increased secretion of ACTH, which shares an amino acid sequence with melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH). This leads to enhanced production of melanin by epidermal melanocytes. See p. 39-40 in the Descriptive Catalogue.
Pl. 43 Morphoea or Addison’s keloid
Modern Term: Linear morphea (en coup de sabre)
En coup de sabre, meaning stroke of a sword, is used to describe a linear depressed plaque of the head due to morphea (localized scleroderma). When severe with facial hemi-atrophy, it is referred to as Parry-Romberg syndrome. See p. 160-166 in the Descriptive Catalogue.
The New Sydenham Society Atlas was often called “Hebra’s Atlas” since the project began with the proposal to issue a translation of Atlas der Hautkrankheiten (Atlas of Skin Diseases) by Viennese physician Ferdinand Ritter von Hebra. Plate 4, Psoriasis vulgaris, is one of seven copied from the Hebra atlas, well known for its outstanding illustrations created by Anton Elfinger. Plate 14 also depicts psoriasis.
Plate 8 is the first original portrait created for the New Sydenham Society’s atlas. The artist and lithographer Edwin Burgess remained the sole artist for the atlas which was issued in installments 1860-1884.
"Publication of fascicules, or installments, of the Atlas of Skin Diseases…is much more expensive than that of an ordinary printed book,” Society secretary Johnathan Hutchinson reported at the Annual Business Meeting in 1869. “…during each of the last two years the expenditure has somewhat exceeded the income, yet the financial state of the Society is such that the Council feels no anxiety…"