The philosophy of marriage, being eight important lectures on the function and disorders of the nervous system and reproductive organs. Illustrated with cases. By Drs. Jordan & Beck, Registered Practitioners by the Medical Board of Victoria, 51 Latrobe Street East, Next the Police Barracks, Melbourne, Australia, and No. 40 Bond Street, New York, U. S. America.
Melbourne : Stillwell and Knight, printers, Collins Street East, [1867?]. Duodecimo (143 x 102 mm), original printed upper wrapper (but lacking the lower wrapper), pp xvi, 175; dog-eared corners, scattered foxing, else sound.
This unrecorded Melbourne imprint is essentially a sex education manual, covering such topics as reproductive anatomy, venereal diseases, and sexual conditions and urges. It was written and self-published by the controversial Anglo-American physician Henry Jacob Jordan, proprietor of the notorious Melbourne Anthropological Museum in Bourke Street.
The preface states ’51st edition’ – undoubtedly a spurious claim, although a number of New York imprints from the 1860s and 1870s are known – and is signed ‘Jordan & Beck, Professors and Lecturers at the College of Anatomy and Medicine, and Principals of the Anthropological Museum and Gallery of Illustrations, 172, Bourke Street East, next the Haymarket Theatre, Melbourne, Australia, and 618, Broadway, New York, U. S. America.’ The latter address was also that of The New York Museum of Anatomy, evidently run by Jordan’s business partner. On the verso of the title page is printed: ‘Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1862, by Drs. Jordan & Beck, In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of New York.’ On page 169 of this pamphlet is an advertisement for the Melbourne Anthropological Museum, where Jordan offers to deliver daily lectures to gentlemen only, between 10am and 10pm, and a notice for Jordan’s medical practice at 51 Latrobe Street.
Sensationalist entrepreneur and physician Henry Jacob Jordan arrived in Melbourne in mid-1867. The following article appeared in The Herald, 25 September 1867:
‘The Anthropological Museum, which is to be opened in the hall of the Haymarket Theatre in the course of a few days, is composed of more then 1000 anatomical specimens or models of the human figure and its various parts, most of which are specially designed to show the stale of the different organs when in various stages of disease. Several of the figures are so arranged as to be taken to pieces, in order to give a correct idea to the anatomical student of the conformation of the bodies. The various organs, muscles, ligaments, etc., are also clearly defined in the models. The Collection, which is the property of Drs. Jordan aud Beck, has, we are told, been recently brought to the colony from America.’
Jordan’s museum in Bourke Street remained open for two years. Despite the fact that its displays were condemned by some sections of the community as vulgar and pornographic in nature, the sexually explicit models evidently aroused the prurient curiosity of a reasonably significant number of Melburnians who were prepared to pay the price of admission. On 9 September 1869 matters came to a head when an anonymous article titled ‘The Pathology of Filth’ – an indignant, moralising diatribe against the Anthropology Museum, which also exposed Jordan’s shady past – was published in The Age: ‘It is said that some years ago a qualified and educated medical man was proceeded against by the Royal College of surgeons in England for unprofessional and most reprehensible conduct. His offence consisted in keeping one of those vile museums which, under the pretence of teaching anatomical science, in reality pander to the most filthy pruriency, in employing the most disgusting models of morbid anatomy as a means of frightening his patients and extorting from their fears fees of a magnitude to which the most eminent members of the profession would lay no claim. Worsted in the courts of law, he sought fresh fields and pastures new. One of the American schools of medicine, aware of his qualifications, but ignorant of the action taken by the English college, admitted him amongst her alumni, and conferred upon him a degree. But if England was too hot, America was much too narrow, and our adventurer, armed with a brand new diploma, made a sweep upon Australia. But the colonial career of the practitioner in question (meaning thereby the said Henry Jacob Jordan) would if the local board had the power and courage to do their duty, be sufficient to remove him from the roll.’
The following day Jordan sued David Syme, the newspaper’s proprietor, for libel. Within a week he had lost the case, and the charlatan was run out of town: ‘The blow struck by this journal at the anatomical museum which has so long disgraced this city has produced the desired effect. The exhibition is a thing of the past. The wax nastinesses must find some other abiding place; Melbourne will endure them no longer.’ (The Leader, 18 September 1869)
Evidence of Henry Jacob Jordan’s dubious character is corroborated by the fact that, as both an author and business owner, he used a plethora of aliases, including H.J. Jordan, L.J. Jordan, Louis J. Jordan, Luis J. Jordan, P.J. Jordan, R.J. Jourdain, and Robert Jourdain, as well as Drs. Jordan & Beck, and Drs. Jordan & Davieson.