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A Treatise on Muscular Action
A Physiological, Theoretic and Practical Treatise on the Utility of the Science of Muscular Action for restoring the Power of the Limbs

By John Pugh
Illustrations Drawn and Engraved by Thomas Kirk

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A Treatise on Muscular Action
A Physiological, Theoretic and Practical Treatise on the Utility of the Science of Muscular Action for restoring the Power of the Limbs
For Restoring the Power of The Limbs
By John Pugh Anatomist
Illustrations Drawn and Engraved by Thomas Kirk

Published in 1794.
Printed for C. Dilly

30 plates plus a 67 page introduction and treatise and a 50 page summation.

The book is a medical book advocating the advantage of exercise in promoting health. It angticipated by centuries the current interest in healthful living. The author invented pieces of apparatus to help restore the strength of the muscles. The book however does not show examples of the machines which are mentioned in the testimonials at the beginning of the book.

This ebook is made from an original 1794 edition which was unbound but seems complete except for 2 missing pages of testimonials.

The engravings illustrate 15 different principles or sets of muscles. Each of the fifteen consists first of a black and white outline engraving which is marked up to match the text and second a stipple engraving which shows the form of the muscles with incredible clarity.

It is these engravings which make the book of interest to artists and animators.

The original book is 9 1/2 inches by 12 1/2 inches making the illustrations oversized. I have compensated for this by providing a black and white scan of the outline engraving, a full color scan of the stipple engraving to show the entire page, and a cropped black and white version of the stipple engraving to show it in the full original scale. In addition I made high resolution scans of the stipple engravings and put them together as an appendix to show the true beauty of the engravings. Examples of each of these appear below. You can click on them to see full size examples.

Dexcription of Plate VII., Outline Engraving

Full Color Scan showing the Full Page, Cropped Black and White Scan to illustrate the Full Size of the Engravings.

High Definition Scan.

"...I am recommending your site to all of my colleagues. We do special effects for motion pictures and t.v. and extensively use anatomical reference for our work. The newer anatomy books just don't have the same qualities..."
-David Beneke

Here is a review from

"John Pugh was an eighteenth century anatomist who advocated many 'current' approaches to physical therapy in a period where anatomy of the nervous system was primitively understood, x-rays and other hallmarks of modern medicine were a century or more in the future. In addition to its historical importance, the engravings of Thomas Kirk, a well known painter and frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy, lend an air of artistry and anatomic precision to the effort. Whenever possible he worked directly under Pugh's supervision. Using a stippling technique, he was able to render a virtual three dimensional appearance to the musculature."

Introductory and Explanatory Preface. - v
INTRODUCTION.---On the different Effects of Inactivity and Exercise on the human Machine. - i
The Opinions of various Authors on Inactivity and Exercise. - 3
On the Necessity and Importance of Exercise. - 9
On the Muscles---how formed. - 28
On muscular Action---from whence the Muscles derive their Power. - 34
On the Muscles---with their Uses---and Plates. - 33
On the other moving Powers of the Machine connected with the Muscles. - 56
Cases. - 76
Conclusion. - 103

From the Conclusion:

"If we are struck with the productions of genius, in which the artist captivates us by an imitation of nature, and teaches the canvas or the marble to represent life, with what satisfaction ought we to behold the corporeal faculties actually regained or restored to their wonted powers, or the wheels of life nearly motionless, again set into action.

However well engraved the tables of Albinus, taken from dead subjects or preparations, (the original plates of which have sold for 30 guineas and upwards) they do not serve to explain the requisite action of the joints and muscles, in their .distinct, united and relative motions, according to the plan and end proposed in the system now for the first time submitted to the public, so effectually as the representations to be contained in the plates of this work, which, with great diligence have been drawn from dead and living subjects under the immediate and attentive inspection of the author.

There is in fact, upon comparifon of them with those above-mentioned and the drawings of other skilful anatomists, as much difference in the representation of a dead and living muscle, as between the appearance of a dead body and a man alive and active; and that appearance of life, action, extension and relaxation, is preserved in these figures, highly worthy the attention of students in drawing, painting, sculpture and anatomy."

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by Dr. John Pugh
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This e-book and the images in it are believed to be in the public domain based on their age and publishing date. If you have information to the contrary please email me:

Studies in the Physiology of Exercise
Albinus on Anatomy
Classic Anatomical Illustrations (Dover Pictoral Archive)

Search for an original Edition at or the 1970 Editions Medicina Rara facsimile edition from $82.00
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A Treatise on Muscular Action
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A TREATISE ON THE SCIENCE OF MUSCULAR ACTION A Physiological Theoretic and Practical Treatise on the Utility of the Science of Muscular Action for restoring the Power of the Limbs
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The book is also available as a 1970 hard cover facsimile limited edition of 2500 copies from Editions Medicina Rara. You can search for that at A Treatise on the Science of Muscular Action at
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