1853 Chang & Eng Siamese Twins Circus Sideshow Biography Souvenir By P T Barnum
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1853 Chang & Eng Siamese Twins Circus Sideshow Biography Souvenir By P T Barnum:
Very rare and wonderful, 1853, Sideshow Attraction / Traveling Circus / Promotional Booklet / Souvenir Pamphlet published by P. T. Barnum detailing the Life of the Original Siamese Twins who would become Barnumâ€™s Premier Sideshow / Circus Freaks / Human Oddities Exhibit "Chang and Eng" - the original "Siamese Twins".
This fascinating and early Circus Sideshow Pamphlet is titled "An Account of Chang and Eng, The World renowned Siamese Twins". New York, 1853. Published by T. W. Strong. It measures 4 1/2" by 7 1/4" and contains 91 pages including 3 full page plates and a number of part page illustrations. It is bound in its original, delicate paper wraps with a wonderful illustration on the front cover of Chang and Eng and their young children.
In the late 1820's conjoined twins Chang and Eng began a career as a traveling "attraction" under the management of two agents, Robert Hunter and Abel Coffin. By the late 1830s, Eng and Chang tired of all their traveling and decided to settle in North Carolina where they married and began families. In 1853 P.T. Barnum entered into serious negotiation with the Twins (now using the last name of Bunker) and believed he had reached an agreement for Chang and Eng to appear at his "American Museum" in New York. Barnum published this Volume under the impression that the Twins would soon appear at the Museum. A statement at the conclusion of the preface reads "...they have announced their intension of exhibiting themselves once more, during a very brief period, after which it is their firm determination to take their final retirement from public life".
Apparently, for some reason, Chang and Eng decided not to appear at Barnum's Museum in 1853 as this fact is likely the reason that examples of this Volume are exceptionally rare. It was not until that 1860 Chang and Eng contracted (for the first time) to appear at Barnumâ€™s Museum for an engagement lasting only six weeks.
This wonderful and very rare, Chang and Eng / P. T. Barnum / Circus Sideshow Promotional Booklet is in very good condition. It is bound in its original, delicate paper wraps which are intact and sound but exhibit some edge wear and some soiling as can be seen in the scans below. The interior pages are in very good condition - complete and tight with some light edge wear and light age toning. Overall this very rare and fascinating Volume is well preserved and displays nicely.
A very rare and important, original, 1853 Sideshow Attraction / Traveling Circus / Promotional Booklet / Souvenir Pamphlet published by P. T. Barnum detailing the Life of the Original Siamese Twins who would become Barnumâ€™s Premier Sideshow / Circus Freaks / Human Oddities Exhibit "Chang and Eng" - the original "Siamese Twins" and a fantastic addition to any collection!!!
Born in Siam (now Thailand) in 1811, Eng and Chang Bunker were connected at the chest by a five-inch-wide band of flesh. The location of this connection suggested to some doctors and other observers that the brothers shared a heart or some respiratory functions. These medical assumptions would be proven wrong. According to their biography, the twins shared relatively "normal" boyhoods in Siam, running and playing with other children, doing chores, and helping to support their parents and siblings by gathering and selling duck eggs in their small village. Later, as teenagers, the twins left Siam and began a career traveling with two agents, Robert Hunter and Abel Coffin.
Eng and Chang earned money by giving lectures and demonstrations throughout the United States, Canada, South America, and Europe. In fact, entries in their travel-expense journal, documents that they visited the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in October, 1834. In their far-flung travels, Eng and Chang became such popular celebrities during the 1830s that their promotion as "Siamese twins" were terms that were universally employed to describe connected or conjoined twins.
By the late 1830s, Eng and Chang tired of all their traveling, opting then to settle in North Carolina. There the brothers married two sisters, Adelaide and Sarah Yates of Wilkes County. The sisters were of European ancestry and were neither twins nor connected themselves. The couples were married in 1843 and would ultimately produce 21 children between the two families.
Although they had minimal dealings with P. T. Barnum, the master showman displayed a wax figure of the twins in the American Museum in the 1840s, published a pamphlet on their lives in 1853, and publicly associated himself with the brothers. With large families to support, Chang and Eng returned to show business in 1860, agreeing to a six-week engagement at Barnum's American Museum. After suffering financial loses during the Civil War, the brothers again agreed to a European tour sponsored by Barnum in 1868 but these were the only times that they were in any way associated with P.T. Barnum.
Eng and Chang died in January, 1874, at the age of 63. Chang preceded Eng in death by about two and a half hours. An autopsy indicated that Chang died of a blood clot in the brain; and at the time Eng's demise was attributed, understandably, to shock.
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