Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection – Dallas, Texas - Atlas Obscura
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Dallas, Texas

Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection

This collection of brass hands comes from astronauts, presidents, baseball greats, and more. 

Established by an orthopedic surgeon with a singular obsession with hands, the Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection collects brass casts of paws both famous and significant. 

In his early career Dr. Adrian Flatt was an orthopedic surgeon who specialized in hand surgery and it was this specialization which would lead to the creation of his titular collection. The habit of taking hand casts began when Flatt took to the habit of molding his patients’ hands so that he could plan his surgery. Then in the 1950’s Flatt began making plaster molds of his fellow surgeons’ hands. From these plaster molds, he would create detailed brass casts as an exercise to prove that there was no such thing as “typical” surgeon’s hands. Flatt expanded his collection during the 1960’s when he began chasing the mitts of bigger fish. Soon Flatt had collected brass models from such 20th century giants as Walt Disney, Dwight Eisenhower, Mickey Mantle, and Doctor Seuss.

The collection continued to grow as Flatt gathered castings from subjects across a number of professions such as composers and astronauts. His fascination with the unique size, shape, and signature of each mitt shows through in the life-like and precise castings. The collection was finally put on display at the Baylor University Medical Center (where he still works, teaching future orthopedic doctors), where all of the pairs of hands could be viewed by students and visitors alike.

The Adrian E. Flatt, M.D., Hand Collection now contains over 100 pairs of famous brass casts.