Insulting, foul-mouthed parrots are always welcome at this blog, and the following example is a real pip. Our saga begins with this story from the "Brooklyn Eagle," June 17, 1913:
It is circus day every day at 108 Magenta street, and today a regular performance was held at the New Jersey avenue court for the benefit of Magistrate Alexander H. Geismar, who was repeatedly
No, not today’s MSG in the gritty West 30s. This is the second of the four versions of Madison Square Garden, the Moorish-Beaux Arts arena designed by Stanford White on 26th Street and Madison Avenue in 1890. At the time this postcard was made in roughly 1907, White’s Madison Square Garden was one of the […]
Jeff and Joe
Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons
The Illustrated Police News
April 9, 1892
(Click image to enlarge)
was a tall, slender gambler
known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap
Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans
Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons
This week we present a guest post by Kyle Dalton; the story of a Civil War era murder by a probable Lincoln assassination conspirator. Kyle Dalton is a public historian and museum professional currently employed at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine. He writes and maintains the website British Tars: 1740-1790, exploring the lives of common sailors through primary sources. This post was
On this date in 1657, the Italian marchese Gian Rinaldo Monaldeschi was put to summary death by the command of Queen Christina of Sweden, at her court in Fontainebleau. Make that ex-Queen, for the singular sovereign had abdicated in 1654 so that she could convert to Catholicism and go gallivanting about Europe. After a spell […]
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
In August 1842, a sensational new curiosity called the Feejee Mermaid was exhibited at P. T. Barnum’s American Museum in New York City. Though it was advertised throughout the country with pictures of traditional, topless female mermaids, the real Feejee Mermaid looked more like an
unnatural amalgam of dissimilar species. Which, in fact, it was. Instead of seeing an alluring full-sized mermaid of legend, visitors to the museum found a small, taxidermically preserved specimen with the withered head and abdomen of a monkey grafted onto the tail of a fish. It was described by one critic as the “incarnation of ugliness.”
The Feejee Mermaid was not new when Barnum introduced it. The mermaid had been on display for months in a museum in Boston and had been exhibited twenty years earlier in London. It took the showmanship and promotional skill of P. T. Barnum to make the Feejee mermaid a star. In addition to the misleading advertisements, Barnum created the story of Dr. J. Griffin, an English naturalist who captured the mermaid near the island of Feejee.
Not everyone believed in the mermaid’s authenticity. The Feejee Mermaid had as many skeptics as it had avid believers and heated debates went on wherever it as exhibited. P. T. Barnum did not care whether people believed in the mermaid or not, as long as they came to see it. As he (allegedly) said, “The bigger the humbug, the better people will like it.”
Barnum, P. T. Struggles and triumphs, or Forty years' recollections of P.T. Barnum written by himself. Author's ed. Buffalo, N.Y.: Warren, Johnson, 1873.
Boese, Alex. The museum of hoaxes: a collection of pranks, stunts, deceptions, and other wonderful stories contrived for the public from the Middle Ages to the new millennium. New York, NY: Dutton, 2002.