The history of palmistry starts in India. It existed in India for a few thousand years BC, but didn't arrive in Europe till the 12th Century.
Indian hand reading spread to China and Japan where it was refined. Arabic traders picked it up on their travels and took it to Europe.
But since it was linked to Islam, Christian translators at universities applied their own religious symbolism to the meanings of the hands. Not long after, the first European palmistry books appeared.
In the 14th Century the Gypsies came to Europe from India with their system of Indian hand reading and combined it with their gifts for clairvoyance.
The history of palmistry includes these early forms of hand reading: Arabic, Christian and Gypsy.
All came from ancient Indian palmistry.
Casimir D'Arpentigny, a French army captain fighting in Spain, was curious after a Gypsy read his hands.
After retirement, he attended the parties of a local landowner. Here he noticed that, among the guests, the artistic ones had smooth fingers while the scientific types had knotty fingers and bulging knuckles.
This observation lead him to an important study of finger and hand shapes.
By coincidence, Adrien Desbarrolles, another Frenchman, was also intrigued by a Gypsy hand reader while in Spain. He began a study of the lines in the palm.
D'Arpentigny and Desbarrolles wrote important books and are now recognized as the co-founders of modern hand analysis.
In 1889 Katherine St Hill founded the Cheirological Society in London to promote the study of palmistry.
And Cheiro the Palmist took the world by storm with his charismatic good looks and fascinating books on the subject.
William Benham, a New York doctor, penned his definitive work, The Laws of Scientific Palmistry.
In 1924 Elizabeth Wilson undertook the first major study of palmistry at Columbia University. She compared line patterns and hand shapes of healthy people with those of psychiatric patients.
Then Dr Charlotte Wolff, a Polish psychologist, published three books on her investigations into the line patterns and hand shapes of delinquent boys.
Since this time, hand analysis has been a subject of continued interest to many in the scientific community. Many investigations into its accuracy have been completed.