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An Illustrated Catalogue And Guide Book To Barnum's American Museum

Creator: Phineas T. Barnum (author)
Date: Circa 1860
Publisher: Wynkoop, Hallenbeck & Thomas, New York
Source: Robert Bogdan Collection
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 1


Booklets like this were printed in large quantities by P.T. Barnum to promote his museum. This would be simultaneously a guide to the American Museum, a souvenir from a visit, and an advertisement to pursuade new patrons to come there.

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No. 884. -- CASE -- THE HAPPY FAMILY. A miscellaneous collection of beasts and birds (upwards of sixty in number), living together harmoniously in one large cage, each of them being the mortal enemy of every other, but contentedly playing and frolicking together, without injury or discord. At the time of the issue of this book, the family comprises 8 doves, 4 owls, 10 rats, 2 cats, 2 dogs, 1 hawk, 3 rabbits, 1 rooster, 8 Guinea Pigs, 1 Raccoon, 2 Cavas, 1 Cuba Rat, 3 Ant Eaters, 7 Monkeys, 2 Woodchucks, 1 Opossum, 1 Armadilla, &c., &c.


The visitor can now ascend another staircase, and he will then find himself upon the roof of this immense establishment, where he can enjoy an excellent view of the city, and of the streets in the vicinity of the Museum. In the small room adjoining the Parapet is exhibited the celebrated Drummond Light, which can be seen for more than a mile along Broadway, when illuminated.


By descending to the Lower Saloons, the visitor will observe the entrances to the Lecture Room, the beauty of which, and the interesting nature of the representations given therein, combine to render it one of the most attractive departments of the establishment. In every detail it is most gorgeous, and is not inferior to like constructions in the palaces of European sovereigns and nobles. Great attention will be observed to have been given to ventilation. The windows and doors are numerous, and to add to the coolness of the structure, the parquet and balcony partitions are but partial, and a large space is therefore left free for the circulation of air. The proscenium consists of stage doors and private boxes, between pilasters of the Corinthian order of architecture, the whole being white and gold. Rich draperies grace the arch above the stage, displaying numerous flags, beneath which appears the motto, "We study to please." The orchestra, like the balconies, is of open trellis work, and white, the latter being gilt and burnished. Rich crimson damask paper covers the walls, while velvet, of the same color, forms the covering to the seats. The centre of the ceiling is elaborately gilt and radiated, while all without is a blending of beautiful and varied colors, intervening with a number of medallion compartments. In the orchestra is a magnificent Piano-forte, made expressly for the museum, at a cost of $1,000, by Chickering & Sons, of Boston. A magnificent chandelier is suspended on each side of the proscenium, and ornamental bracket lights, with ground glass globes, are arranged around the balcony fronts.


The following are illustrations and descriptions of living and other curiosities which have been, from time to time, exhibited in the Museum, always without extra charge, the proprietor and manager believing that a uniform price of admission, however great the attractions he might be enabled to offer, would be more satisfactory to his visitors, and profitable to the establishment. First and foremost stands GENERAL TOM THUMB, who was one of the earliest of Mr. Barnum's extra attractions, and whose fame is world-wide, having visited every country of Europe, and been received by every court and crowned head, and patronized by the nobility and gentry, as well as the masses of the people. Everywhere the General has been received with marked attention, and has amassed quite a fortune since his majority, as well as enriched his family during his minority. He possesses a fine country residence at Bridgeport, Ct., his native place, where he resides when not on exhibition.


The following illustration represents GENERAL TOM THUMB'S CARRIAGE and Ponies, presented to him by Her Majesty, queen Victoria.


THE HIGHLAND FAT BOYS, Charles and Alexander Stuart, whom Mr. Barnum found in Scotland, and regarding them as great curiosities, at once engaged them for his Museum, where they were exhibited with much success for several months.


RUDOLPH LUCASIE, WIFE AND CHILD -- The most remarkable case of albinoism on the record, probably the only one ever known of an entire family possessing this peculiarity. They were first seen by Mr. Barnum at Amsterdam, in Holland, and by him induced to visit America. Their exhibition at the Museum has been successful, and they have been uniformly regarded as a most singular freak of nature. They will probably spend some years in this country ere they return to their homes to enjoy the comfortable fortune their peculiarities are gaining for them.


THE FAT GIRL -- HANNAH COUCH -- A most remarkable case of obesity, and generally regarded as a great curiosity. She was exhibited at the Museum several months, and obtained a notoriety which enabled her to exhibit throughout the country with considerable success.


THE TWO LIVING AZTEC CHILDREN. -- A male and female, aged 17 and 24 years, said to be descendants of the sacerdotal caste, now nearly extinct, of the ancient Aztec founders of the ruined temples of Central America and Yucatan. They are the most extraordinary specimens of the human race ever known; their form and features unlike any other human being, their heads smaller than an infant's a week old, measuring only thirteen inches in circumference, while that of an ordinary adult measures 22 to 23 inches. Their history approaches the marvelous, yet interesting. They have been exhibited throughout nearly the entire civilized world, and their reception has been the most flattering. They were patronized, in Europe, by all the crowned heads, nobility, and gentry; have attracted the attention of eminent savans of both hemispheres, and after critical examinations have been pronounced the most wonderful human beings ever brought to the notice of the public.

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