Macfadden's Encyclopedia of Physical Culture

Three editions of the encyclopedia (only vol. 1 of the first edition is shown here) from my collection.
The encyclopedia went through many revisions. It began as a single volume and grew into an 8 volume set.

The Contents

The five volume sets
Volume 1: Anatomy and physiology
Volume 2: Exercise and athletics
Volume 3: Fasting and treatments
Volume 4: Diagnosis and treatment of disease
Volume 5: Sex and parenthood

The eight volume set
Volume 1: Physiology and hygiene
Volume 2: Diet and health
Volume 3: Exercise and health
Volume 4: Sex and parenthood
Volume 5: Personality
Volume 6: Sources of health
Volume 7: Treatment of disease
Volume 8: Treatment of disease.

Examples of the beautiful "Leatherette" covers of the editions from the 1920's and the 1930's

Every edition had a spectacular, fold-out mannequin in the front of volume 1

The mannequin illustrated the skeleton, the muscles, and all the internal organs.
It is not easy today to find copies of the encyclopedia which still have the mannequin totally intact.

(An excerpt from an early edition which tells us a lot about Macfadden's point of view)

Health is the most desirable possession of mankind. It is the most precious, yet, to some, the most elusive of all possessions. Without its presence all other gifts are but as the feeble flickering of tapers compared with the power and glory of the midday sun, which it represents. The possession of health makes life a perpetual joy. Nothing daunts the man and woman possessed of health - nothing overawes, nothing discourages, nothing overpowers. It is the constant source of untold pleasures - pleasures incalculable, and yet seldom appreciated until they are gone. Health means vim, vigor, snap and energy. Health means clarity and strength of mind; purity and beauty of soul. The healthy person is unconscious of discomfort; he rises superior to it - is absolutely the monarch of all he surveys. He dominates life instead of allowing it to dominate him. He is unconscious of the parts of his body or the functions they perform. He is a unit - a being - a man, whole, complete, vigorous, perfect, happy - because healthy. To such a man work is a joy; obstacles but opportunities for endeavor; difficulties but a means of enlarged triumph. He knows no weariness, no languor, no lassitude, no exhaustion, except the healthy weariness and exhaustion, easily recuperated, that comes from pleasurably exerted strength and vigor. He is a radiating center of life - physical, mental, spiritual. To grasp his hand is a pleasure, to gaze into his eyes a joy, to hear his voice is to feel a thrill, and to peer into his mind is to be stimulated to higher achievement. Health plus, all things else being equal, is what makes the champion, the expert, the "Captain," in any and every line. It supplies the courage, the daring, the boldness, the aggressiveness of life. It is what makes initiative possible, bulldog "pertinacity effective, and achievement assured.

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A two-page advertisement in Physical Culture Magazine for one of the very early editions

An advertisement from the 1920's and another from the 1930's

The encyclopedias were copiously illustrated and had many excellent full-page color charts.

Of course, he was never shy about showing off his own impressive physique

A two-page spread from the brochure, "A simple Guide To Health"

Copies of the encyclopedia are auctioned off regularly on eBay.

The following items are on eBay right now!


Check it out! Take the 50s quiz and see how you do!

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