"Abstract of the Anthropometrical Signalment," from Bertillon's Signaletic Instructions, 1896 (English edition)
Courtesy of the Frick Fine Arts Library
DescriptionThe large device was used to measure height and reach, with the measured person standing directly in front of the tall vertical beam. Moving to the left, and seated on the low stool, measurements would have been taken of the height of the trunk, and in early versions of the protocol, also the amount of stoop displayed by the upper back. The portable square resting on the stool would rest on the top of the head to accurately measure the trunk height.
The shorter foot stool would have been used to measure left foot length using the larger of the two sets of caliper compasses (the more bulbous calipers with two moveable arms), but it would also have served as the place to sit for the measurement of head length and head width, using the smaller set of outside calipers, as well as the right ear length, using the smaller of the caliper rules (the more hammer-shaped calipers with one fixed and one moveable arm).
The taller bench was used to measure the left forearm with the larger set of caliper rules, but it was also used as a point of support for measuring the left foot length, for, as shown in the diagrams, the protocol demanded that the measured body stand on one foot for this. The measurement of the left middle and little fingers would have been done standing, using the large caliper rule.
Researchers: Alison Langmead and Josh Ellenbogen