Friday, April 1, 2011

Representatives of the Wonderful

It took a week of stolen moments to complete the framing for my April window, to be installed next week.  Next Saturday is the date for the vintage photo event here at the shop and I wanted the window and gallery wall to celebrate vintage photography.

About a decade ago, I developed a particular fascination for P.T. Barnum and his gang, Representatives of the Wonderful, as he called them, the unusual and beautiful cast of characters at his carefully curated NY Museum and later at his popular sideshows.  Simultaneous to this interest, I became interested in cabinet cards--small photographic prints mounted to cardboard and distributed from 1866 to 1906.  Performers would sell these to onlookers for 10cents, and now they are sold to collectors for a great deal more.

I commissioned reproductions of some of my favorite individuals.  Of course you will find General Tom Thumb who almost single-handedly amassed Barnum his fortune and remained his dearest friend until Thumb's death.  You will find Thumb's widow, Lavinia Warren, The Queen of Beauty, on the day of her second marriage to Count Primo Magri of Italy.  Waino and Plutanor, The Wild Men of Borneo appear after their incredible capture!  An ersatz automaton, a snake charmer, a woman of extreme pedal dexterity will all be on view.

They are each framed in a dark Victorian style, each with a showy framing technique or sleight of hand.  Visit the flickr gallery!  Which is your favorite?  I love them all.

The magician J.N. Maskelyne and ZoeLavinia Warren on the occasion of her marriage to Count Primo MagriBartlett Family of Sharpshootersunidentified clownMiss UnoJohn Jennings, The Modern Samson
Waino and Plutanor, The Wild Men of Borneounidentified clownunidentified dancerL.L. Sturgeon demonstrating pedal dexterityunidentified costumed manunidentified child performer
unidentified exotic performersThe Iron SkullCharles Stratton, General Tom ThumbMadam Milo, Queen of Hair

cabinet cards, a set on Flickr.

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