Aug 8 2011: A Gallery Of Pages from Guardian Of Health (Malayan Signs Press, Singapore, 1955)

Published in 1955, with further editions following in 1958 and 1959, Guardian of Health was written by Hubert O. Swartout (MD) on behalf of the American Board of Public Medicine and Public Health in Singapore. It seems to follow identical outlines to those seen in any number of Family Health and Home Doctor manuals of the same period in the UK and US, but something intriguingly distinct enters the equation too. Perhaps it’s the inclusion of sections on opium and marijuana, or the pages on how to deal with radiation sickness and fallout in the aftermath of nuclear attack?

It’s also notable that the book’s colour illustrations, few as they are, have an intriguingly hyper-real quality. Most are credited to the artist L.C. Innes, and they might well be reproduced here from American sources, so it’s possible that it’s more the unfamiliar layouts and colour reproduction techniques that give them a strange air in this context. I don’t ever recall seeing anything quite as Science Fiction-like as the anatomical male and female figures seen above in British Family Medicine Guides of the same vintage: these two seem to have stepped right out from the heart of a mushroom cloud or the interior of a flying saucer.


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