Tagged with travelling shows

In Praise of Dr Katterfelto

Dr Katterfelto is one of the most fascinating characters from late 18th/early 19th century England. He was called the King of Puff, and his claims to have cured Londoners of the flu epidemic helped sell his remedies. He demonstrated solar microscopes, and danced either side of the divide between science and magic with a big … Continue reading

Not Such Dumb Birds

In Honor Ridout’s ‘Cambridge and Stourbridge Fair’, she describes a number of the entertainments, from human freaks to exotic animals, plays and musicians. But, “A different sort of catastrophe befell an exhibitor of animals when his ostrich died. The loss of so distinctive an exhibit must have been a blow… However, the death provided an … Continue reading

Dangerous Show

For much of human history, wherever people gathered, there was always a chance of something dangerous happening, but this seems to have been particularly common for shows, as many people often crowded into a small space, often lit by open flames. One of Cambridgeshire’s greatest tragedies happened at a puppet show. This is from Honor … Continue reading

A Lecture on Heads

This is one of the most misleading titles for a travelling show, from the Bath Journal of 1773. It seems to be based on an earlier show, which lasted 4 hours unscripted, doing impersonations of various types of people – showing us how bland we have become. But this seems to be the dawn of … Continue reading

An Unmissable Show

This is from the Oxford Journal of 1774 Mr Frederick, Dexterity Balance Master and stone-eater, will continue to perform every evening at the Mitre Inn, High Street from 7 to 9, 1s. His performances are really surprizing: he eats 150 stones, each as big as a pigeon’s egg or bigger, with his hands tied behind; … Continue reading

A Well Travelled Corpse

I have no idea where I got this from – a scribbled note about the US outlaw Elmer McCurdy who was killed by a sheriff’s posse in Oklahoma, October 1911.  He had accidentally robbed the wrong train, and only got about $40. He should  have been buried and long ago forgotten. But his body was … Continue reading

Beautiful Spotted Boy

Beautiful Spotted Boy

I stumbled upon this child’s story in the accounts of London’s Bartholomew Fair, and his story deserves a fuller description. It seems he was the first example seen in this country of what is now known as partial albinism, where the skin is white in patches and the hair is often dramatically white, but lacks … Continue reading

A Mountebank Harrangues

A Mountebank Harrangues

Mountebanks made their livings as travellers who sold their own special cures and treatments, so had to be great orators and manipulators of crowds.  About the year 1690 a book was published “The Harrangues or Speeches of Several Famous Mountebanks in town and Country”. This is from that book, by Tom Jones. GENTLEMEN AND LADIES, … Continue reading