Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Fable of the Bees

Honestly, I never know what I am going to find here. In a fit of post-Christmas tidying up, I came across five books on my shelves. They’re all connected via the book, The Fable of the Bees by Bernard Mandeville, and were all published in the early 1700’s. Mandeville was a Dutch-Englishman, originally from Dordrecht, a place where I’ve actually spent several weeks!


Here’s a brief summary from Wikipedia about the book.

This essay criticized the charity schools, designed to educate the poor and, in doing so, instill virtue in them. Mandeville disagreed with the idea that education adds virtue because he did not believe that evil desires existed only in the poor, but rather he saw the educated and wealthy as much more crafty. Mandeville also believed that educating the poor increased their desires for material things, defeating the purpose of the school and making it more difficult to provide for them.

The book was primarily written as a political satire on the state of England in 1705, when the Tories were accusing John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, and the ministry of advocating the War of the Spanish Succession for personal reasons.

In The Grumbling Hive, Mandeville describes a bee community thriving until the bees are suddenly made honest and virtuous. Without their desire for personal gain, their economy collapses and the remaining bees go to live simple lives in a hollow tree, thus implying that without private vices there exists no public benefit.

The books are beautifully printed, but they’re hell to read.
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The second volume is not much easier!
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Not only did I find the two volumes of the Fable of the Bees, I found two small booklets which are in response to the books.
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Now I am not quite sure what the Fable of the Bees has to do with MedChi, or why the books are on our possession. There is a letter between what looks to be a book-binder in London to someone here in Baltimore, saying they would inexpensively re-bind the book. IMG_0015

I’ve looked on-line and some of the early volumes of these books go for about $1,000. But ours aren’t going anywhere. IMG_0014

Another mystery to be solved.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays

Some of my gentlemen friends and I would like to wish you all a Happy Holiday Season and a prosperous New Year!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Who is Who?

One of the most vexing things to me when I arrived at MedChi in April was the fact that someone had purposely removed all of the plaques and plates from the portraits. They arrived in my office a month or so after I started working on the identifying the portraits, in an old shoe box. I must confess, that I nearly cried when I saw them, I was so furious.plates

Although I had a list of the portraits from Sotheby’s, there were no images to go along with the descriptions. There are some acquisition numbers on the reverse of some of the paintings, but not all of them.

At first, I thought that someone might have removed the plaques and plates to clean them, but clearly, they do not all need to be cleaned. Some are on very tarnished brass, but they can’t be cleaned because the names are hand-painted on them. Others, like John Archer, are painted on gilded wood and are still in beautiful condition. plates2There are also a number of the plates that are under glass, so they wouldn’t have tarnished. I keep trying to work out why someone would have wholesale removed these, and what they were thinking!

To be fair, not all of the plaques and plates were removed – there’s no rhyme or reason as to what’s there and what isn’t!Portraits 002

Over the past few months, I’ve been playing detective and trying to sort out who’s who! Some paintings have stickers on them to help identify – and this is one I removed from the gilded frame – and others are marked in RED FINGERNAIL POLISH on the reverse.plates3

Sometimes, I walk around with my Sotheby’s list and a measuring tape and see who’s who. Is this the Gentleman with Black Tie or is it someone else? Is this the Lady With Beads 5-3 008or the Lady with the Lace Collar? IMG_0928

There’s no option for the Lady with the Beads AND the Lace Collar!IMG_0943

Take these three gentlemen. All three are identified as the same person – Frederick Hintze. Hintze Frederick 2Hintze FrederickHINTZE4 5-10 065I think that numbers one and two are the same person, but number three is a different person. It’s the eyebrows and the hairline that helped me draw that conclusion. Which leaves the question, who is number 3?

At some point, everyone will be identified, and I will be happy… maybe!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rembrandt Peale

As I’ve mentioned, MedChi has an extensive collection of portraits of our early Presidents and other luminaries at our organization. There are few stars in the collection and amongst those are several by early American  and Baltimore painter, Rembrandt Peale.

imagePeale lived and worked in Baltimore starting in 1814, and opened the Peale Museum at that time. He painted many portraits of well-known Baltimoreans and others, including this well-known painting of his brother, Rubens. (I have a cutting from a descendant of this geranium, as well as a copy of the pot by potter Guy Wolff.)image

Rembrandt Peale’s paintings are clear and well-defined and the detail is amazing.

We have two paintings that are definitely Peales and one that is attributed to Peale by the experts at Sotheby’s. This is Charles Sloan.

Sloan 6-5Charles Sloan was the son of a very prosperous and wealthy Baltimore merchant, James Sloan, whose house was on the site of the present Courthouse on the Battle Monument Square. He was born on March 18, 1798.

There is very little information about Sloan’s early years, other than that he adopted medicine as his profession and became a doctor. He moved to New Orleans to study yellow fever which was raging in the country at that time. It is thought that Dr. Sloan answered the call of the Mayor of Baltimore to help find a cause and a cure, and went to New Orleans where the disease was at its height and where he died at age 23.

The portrait was probably painted around 1819 or 1820, just before Sloan left for New Orleans. It represents “a simple but strong manner the attractive face of a young physician, and is a portrait to be prized most highly.”

The portrait was given to the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland by Frank Frick in memory of his brother, Dr. Charles Frick, who was named after Charles Sloan.

This is Horace Hayden, the founder of the first dental college in the United States, at the University of Maryland.

Dr. Hayden was born on October 13, 1769 at Windsor, Connecticut. After working as a cabin boy, carpenter, architect, and schoolteacher, influenced by John Greenwood, he turned to dentistry. In 1800, Dr. Hayden began a dental practice in Baltimore Maryland. He was well versed in anatomy, physiology, and the medical sciences.

Dr. Hayden was issued a license by the Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland in 1810, the first for the practice of dentistry in America. During the War of 1812, he served as a private in the 39th Regiment, Maryland Militia, and later as an assistant surgeon.

Between 1819 and 1825, he delivered a series of lectures on dentistry to medical students at the University of Maryland, the first in the new world. Dr. Hayden was one of the founders of the Maryland Academy of Sciences and served as its president in 1825. In 1820, as a pioneer geologist and botanist, he published the first general work on geology to be printed in the United States. He discovered a new mineral, named Hadenite in his honor.

In 1839, he was the involved in establishing the American Journal of Dental Science, the world's first dental journal, eventually the official organ of the society. Dr. Hayden, architect of American system of dental education and organizer of professional dentistry died on January 25th, 1844 “mainly of overwork” and is buried in Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore.

This Rembrandt Peale portrait was given to MedChi by Mrs. Mary Parkhurst Hayden in 1934. “In Dr. Horace H. Hayden, rich colors, strongly realized physical presence, and tight composition reveal Rembrandt's effort to paint a meaningful picture as well as a specific likeness.”

This is Edward Harris, and the painting is attributed to Rembrandt Peale. Unfortunately, we do not have much information about Harris. This painting is currently in my office, where he gazes over my shoulder as I work.

Edward Harris was a doctor in Baltimore City in the early 1800’s. He had offices on Baltimore Street between Howard and Eutaw Streets, from at least 1810 to 1818.

This painting was a gift of Mrs. Robert Sloan, great-great granddaughter. She thought that Dr. Harris was a founder of the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty, but there’s no record of him even being a member of MedChi. She also thought that the portrait was by Rembrandt Peale. The portrait hung in MedChi’s Annapolis office from 1997 to 2010(ish).

There is a secretary desk in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that was originally owned by Dr. Edward Harris. The information they have is as follows: Dr. Edward Harris, Queen Anne's County, Maryland to Severn Teackle Wallis, Baltimore, from ca. 1886 to his niece, Mrs. James Fortescue Giffen, Baltimore to her daughter, Mrs. Louise Giffen Fishburn, Baltimore, until 1934 when it was acquired by the Metropolitan.

We are most fortunate to have these paintings in our collection.

Monday, December 16, 2013

MedChi Menus

As I was searching our archives, I found numerous references to various parties and events which MedChi and its members had hosted through the years. Certainly what we ate then and what we eat now are completely different. And of course, what we know about healthy eating, drinking and lifestyles is diametrically opposed to what we thought and did 100+ years ago.
MedChi’s 100th Anniversary in 1899 was celebrated with dinners, lectures, commemorative programs and more. 100th program2This is the invitation for the Opening of the Centennial Ceremonies.100th invitation
Here’s an invitation to the Annual Address and reception.100th invitation3
And the big invitation – to the Centennial Dinner at the old Hotel Rennert. 100th invitation2
This is the menu from the dinner. It featured many Maryland specialties of the day, including Turtle Soup (most likely Maryland Terrapin) and Crab Salad. The Saratoga Chips are actually a predecessor of what we now know as regular potato chips. 100th menu 1
In addition to the dinner, there is wine with every course, and then breaks for cigarettes and cigars.  imageThere’s a reference to Cardinal Punch which is made with claret, brandy, dark rum, champagne, orange slices, and pineapple slices! How anyone would even be able to make it through the remaining courses after that is quite beyond me!image
In a small program from the “Monthly Medical Reunion, Founded in 1881” dated January, 1956, the 75th Anniversary of the group, there are several paragraphs discussing the food at these meetings, which were held at private homes. To quote J. A. Chatard, M.D.:
As you know, the original founders entertained with a late supper to be enjoyed after a hard day’s work. Then, as close friends, intimate and lively discussions could take place, accompanied by some delicious food, that each member prized as originating in his kitchen, under the supervision of a devoted wife, and the “old bandana crowned” cook who felt her corn pone, beaten biscuits, spoon bread, muffins and Sally Lunn much better than other cooks. image
There was always one “Specialite de la maison” looked forward to by all the members. In those days, our seafood was varied and delicious, with oysters in many ways (pickled was a special dish), fish, crabs and occasionally the rules were broken by terrapin, slipping in through the door. imageGames was plentiful also, and not expensive. Quail, grouse and prairie chicken [a large grouse, now extinct] could be found on the table hot (broiled or stewed with celery) or even more delicious, when covered by a thick gelatinous gravy, solidified and covering the tender meat. image
Another dish (Specialite) was a mound of calf’s head, with sweetbreads around the base, and the calf’s eyes decorating the top. The cold dish at the other end of the table was so-called “hogs-head cheese” requiring some days to prepare, the finished product being a clear gelatinous mound showing the piece of pork through the jellied dish.
In those days, the food was usually accompanied by different wines, sherry, claret, burgundy or port– no champagne, but sometimes an old Madeira would sneak in. image
Nowdays, our menus are a little tamer with each committee having their favorite dinner on order.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

I guess it’s time to confess our secret: We have a ghost at our offices and her name is Marcia. It’s actually Marcia Crocker Noyes. Marcia was the librarian at MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society where I work, and when our current offices were built in 1909, an apartment was built for her on the top floor. In essence, a penthouse!
Marcia started her library career at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and then took a position at MedChi in 1896, when MedChi was located in a building several blocks from our current location. She was in her mid-20’s when she started and the library had about 7,000 outdated volumes.Marcia crocker noyes
In 1889, Sir William Osler, one of the founding physicians at the newly opened Johns Hopkins Medical School, arrived in Baltimore and set to work with Marcia to revive MedChi’s library. He was a noted bibliophile and had a large personal collection of books on various topics. Sir William and Marcia worked to build a widely-respected library, and when our building was erected in 1909, a large four-story stacks library was created that was renown in the world’s medical community. IMG_2969x
Her apartment, on the top of our building, was a lovely four room flat, with lots of light, big windows, a working fireplace and a view out over the city. She kept a vegetable garden in what is now our parking lot. Her apartment was considered the first penthouse in Baltimore!Marcia Noyes2
Marcia worked diligently to create a state of the art library and at her death, 50 years after she arrived, the number of volumes totaled more than 65,000! Img 027She was well-known in the emerging field of medical library sciences, and in fact, the highest award for a medical librarian is named for her. She became become the first woman and first non-physician President of the of Medical Library Association in 1933.
In her 50th year of service to MedChi, a large party was given in her honour. The doctors knew she was dying and pushed to have it earlier in the year, although her anniversary was in November. She was still living in the apartment on the top floor, and working in the library, although an elevator and a dumbwaiter had been added to make things easier for her.
She died in her apartment in November of 1946, 50 years after she arrived. Her funeral was held in Osler Hall, named for her dear friend, Sir William Osler, and 60 doctors were honoured to act as pallbearers.sideboard2She’s still here in spirit, if not more. There are documented cases of her being seen in Osler Hall, and odd things happen in our buildilng. In her old offices, you can hear someone typing on the keyboard, even when no one’s there. If she doesn’t like the song on the iPod, she changes it to a new tune. As I approached our old elevator the other week, the door magically opened – no one was around and I hadn’t heard it arrive.
When we did our tour of our building on October 30th, I was talking about Marcia and all that she did, when suddenly, the lights dimmed, flickered and went out. There was no one near the switch, and you couldn’t dim the light-bank even if you tried. We think that it was Marcia letting us know that she was there. Wheels squeak in the stacks, and you can hear muffled footsteps. Things turn up, even though they were NOT there before… like the painting I found a few weeks ago!
As the colleague who works in Marcia’s former office read through this blog, her mouse began to move and scroll backwards. Apparently, Marcia hadn’t finished reading the entry, possibly the one on her old friend, Sir William Osler.
According to some evidence which I found on the internet, where, you know, everything is true, Marcia spent her summers at a camp on Lake George in the Adirondacks.
At first, the only building housed the kitchen with its huge, wood burning, cast iron stove and the great room with floor to ceiling book shelves, used principally as a dining hall for the girl's camp that had existed there since the turn of the century. The girls slept on narrow, World War I army cots in large canvas tents rigged on wooden platforms. There are still women in their eighties and nineties on the Lake who relish sweet memories of their girlhood summers at Camp Seyon. Marcia Noyes (Seyon is Noyes spelled backward), who ran the camp, was an internationally known medical librarian at Johns Hopkins University {sic}. Johns Hopkins provided her a pent house apartment in Maryland and the Medical Librarians Association still gives out a yearly award in her honor. But Miss Noyes' summers were dedicated to the camp and her girls. Marcia had the Main House floated down from an island in the Narrows on a barge; the Camp was, then, a virtual island. A boggy path led across the isthmus to the peninsula; vehicles were left on the mainland.
Seyon 1
Oddly, there’s a Seyon Lodge on Noyes Lake in Vermont, but I am not sure whether the two are connected.
There is much to be admired about this woman who worked so hard for us, who was beloved by all – her employees stayed with her for years – and who did much to advance library science. She was the Google of her day, being available to doctors 24/7 for 50 years. She’s a benign presence here and still a revered figure in her chosen field.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Portrait: George Warner Miltenberger

Of all of the portraits we have in our collection, this is the one I like the most, so I am going to start our Portrait series with him. He looks like such a kind man, ready to write you a Rx to ease your slightest woe!Miltenberger George

George Warner Miltenberger

George Warner Miltenberger was born in Baltimore on March 17 1819. His father, Gen. Anthony F.W. Miltenberger, won his title and distinction by meritorious services during the War of 1812.

Dr. Miltenberger attended Boisseau Academy under the tutelage of Dr. Stephen Roszell and was one of the brightest pupils having for a number of successive years carried off the scholarship prizes of his class. He attended the University of Virginia during the season of 1835-36 and began his medical studies in Baltimore, which he continued until 1840, postponing his graduation one year to continue his studies.

He was immediately appointed demonstrator of anatomy by the faculty at the University of Maryland’s Medical School, and as he took a special personal interest his classes, they soon became the largest and best attended in the college. When his private practice became too large to allow him to attend to his classes during the day, rather than discontinue them, sessions were held at night.

During these years Dr. Miltenberger was an indefatigable worker and as fast as vacancies occurred he was promoted to higher positions on the staff of the college, filling at times two chairs simultaneously.

From 1840 to 1852 he was demonstrator of Anatomy and lecturer on the same from 1840 to 1847 lecturer on Pathological Anatomy, from 1847 to 1849 Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics from I852 to 1858 ,and after that date until his resignation, Professor of Obstetrics.

He was Vice President of the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty from 1855 to 1856 and President from 1886 to 1887.


There are several articles about Dr. Miltenberger in books about Baltimore in the 1800’s. You can access them here and here. Here’s the illustration of Dr. Miltenberger in one of the articles. Milterberger

I like the portrait much better! imageThe image above is from the University of Maryland’s Medical School’s Dean’s Book, which you can download as a PDF here.