The Surgeon General’s Seven Foot Giant
“The objects here collected which have not been given, or acquired by exchange, have been purchased for the use of the museum by order of the surgeon-general… There is a skeleton of a giant, who, in life, measured seven feet, prepared by Auzoux and mounted by Blanchêne’s method, which, if I may use that term, is really a beauty. It is as white and clean as new fallen snow, and the brass joints and screws which keep it together are bright, and of the latest style and finish.” From the article
The Army Medical Museum in Washington DC has long been known for its extensive collection of medical and anatomical specimens. One of the more unusual items in the collection is the skeleton of a seven-foot giant, which was purchased for the museum by order of the Surgeon General. The testimony of such an esteemed medical authority lends significant weight to the existence of this unusual specimen.
Eyewitness accounts of professionals who were present at the time of the acquisition of the giant skeleton attest to the thoroughness of the measurements taken and the care with which it was prepared and mounted. The skeleton was prepared by Auzoux, a well-known French anatomical model maker, and mounted by Blanchêne’s method, a technique that was considered state-of-the-art at the time. The result was a stunning and well-preserved specimen, with bright brass joints and screws that keep it together.
It is worth noting that the frequency of above-average height in humans has increased over the past century due to improvements in nutrition and healthcare. However, a seven-foot-tall individual would still be considered very rare and noteworthy, and the acquisition of such a specimen for the museum indicates a desire to preserve and study unusual anatomical features.
As for where this is all heading, it is difficult to say. The Army Medical Museum has since been absorbed into the National Museum of Health and Medicine, and while the giant skeleton remains a popular attraction, it is unlikely that similar specimens will be added to the collection. However, the museum continues to play an important role in advancing medical knowledge and understanding, and the study of unusual anatomical features, including those of very tall individuals, remains a topic of interest for medical researchers and historians alike.
- The Army Medical Museum in Washington” by Louis Bagger, Appletons’ Journal: A Magazine Of General LiteratureVolume 9, Issue 206
- 1873 Washington DC