The Supreme Showman

I have a book on the exploits of German born Katterfelto. He was fascinating as he walked a tightrope between real science and hokum. He was arrested once for setting fire to a hayrick when his balloon came down in a field. In his hey day his arrival was announced in town by a pair of young African boys in livery blowing trumpets, but he and his family died in poverty. This is one of his ads. I wish I knew what half the things he names refer to, though a few are hard to read. This is from the Birmingham Gazette of 1776:

“To the Curious and the Public in General
A son of col. Katterfelto from the famous Regiment, the Death Head Hussars, belonging tot he King of PRUSSIA, has traveled now these 15 years, through all parts of Europe and spent a considerable Fortune to Improve himself in Philosophy and Mathematics. In his Travels, he has invented and made a great variety of Apparatus to amuse himself, and give instructions to the Public; and he never exhibited in this Kingdom before. His lectures and surpizing experiments which are Philosophical, Mathematical, Optical, Magnetical, Electrical, Physical, Chymical, Pneumatic Pneumatic, Hydrolic, Hydrostatic, Parectic, Styanographic, Pallangetic and Caprimandic Art. – His GRAND EXHIBITION will be every Evening this Week, and positively no longer, in a large, genteel, and commodious Room, at the Sign of the Nag’s Head, on Snow Hill in this Town. Music to begin at 6, and the performance precisely at half past Seven. Some different Exhibitions each Night.
NB As Mr Katterfelto does not exhibit for private Interest, and being desirous that every Person may have an opportunity of seeing his curious Inventions, the Price to Gentlemen and Ladies 1 shilling each; Servants &c half price.
He will teach any Gentleman or Lady any part of his performance.
[crossed out: Mr KATTERFELTO will exhibit next week at Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Worcester. ]


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