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The name "H. Cline"; the outline of a femur; and studs. Relief etchings by Henry Cline, 1784/1811.

  • Cline, Henry, 1750-1827
[between 1784 and 1811]
  • 3-D Objects

Selected images from this work

About this work


As stated in the lettering on the sheet inside the jar, these are three pieces of bone on which are etched the name "H. Cline", the outline of a femur, and studs. Etchings are normally drawn on a copper plate and then etched by the acid (e.g. nitric acid) in an acid bath. These etchings, however, were drawn on bone and etched by the acid (in this case hydrochloric acid) secreted in the stomach of a dog. Henry Cline drew the designs on the bones, tied the bones together and then presumably force-fed them to a dog. The bones were then etched inside the dog's stomach by the dog's normal gastric acid. After nine hours, he cut open the dog's stomach and removed the bones. The acid had etched on the bones the designs which Cline had drawn on them, including his own name. Thus, through a jeu d'esprit (at the expense of the dog), Cline demonstrated the corrosive force of gastric acids for the benefit of his students

Cline did not publish his work in anatomy and physiology. He did record it in several manuscripts formerly in St Thomas's Hospital, latterly in the Archives, King's College London (reference number TH/PP/16). He does not mention the present experiment there either, though similar experiments are mentioned: the opening up the stomach of a rabid dog is described in his Notebook, 'Pathology and surgery', no. 16.1, fol. 233r-234v, "On opening him the great end of the stomach appeared slightly inflamed on the inside"), and in notes on Cline's lectures a student recorded an experiment with acid (Notes on a course of Henry Cline's lectures on anatomy, physiology and surgery, [1790], no. 16.4, p. 151, "If you put a tooth into an acid the enamel will be entirely removed and the boney part only remain")


[between 1784 and 1811]

Physical description

3 sculptures : relief etching on bone + glass jar ; jar 15.7 x 11.5 x 8.6 cm


These are specimens of the digestion of bone. The parts which are most prominent were covered with wax and the bones put in the stomach of a living dog for 9 hours. They were tied together by a string

Creator/production credits

From the name "H. Cline" and from the provenance (Department of Physiology, St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, London), the author is assumed to be Henry Cline (1750-1827), a surgeon to the hospital and a teacher of anatomy and physiology there

References note

Karen Taylor, Surgery at St Thomas's in the Napoleonic era: Henry Cline 1750-1827, BSc. Dissertation -- Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 1998 (biography of Cline)

Lettering note

Lettering on sheet stuck to inside of glass container


Wellcome Library no. 588138i


  • English

Where to find it

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