Wax P. T. Barnum sizes up the purses of passing rubes as tiny wax Tom Thumb and huge wax mammoth look on. Barnum's first hoax was passing off a blind and paralyzed African-American woman as the 160 year old George Washington's former nurse. As 1500 paying spectators found out during her public autopsy (!) she was only 80. His next African-American spectacle was Man-Monkey William Johnson, a microcephalic who was taught to speak a "mysterious" gibberish language. He tried to purchase William Shakespeare's birth home. Two days before his death, Barnum gave the local newspaper permission to print his obituary so he wouldn't miss it. Before passing, he paid for a "life-sized statue" for Tom Thumb's grave.
Number twelve in my "Horrors in Wax" series. Click blue subject heading below to see them all.
Postcard, c. 1970 Collection Jim Linderman