Broadside: "General Tom Thumb, Man in Miniature, arriving in Exeter"
Broadside advertising the appearance of General Tom Thumb, "Man in Miniature" at the Town Hall in Exeter, [New Hampshire], on Monday, October 23 and "positively no longer." The year is calculated to be 1848....
Show moreBroadside advertising the appearance of General Tom Thumb, "Man in Miniature" at the Town Hall in Exeter, [New Hampshire], on Monday, October 23 and "positively no longer." The year is calculated to be 1848.
Broadsides are the ancestors of posters, and in the 1700s and 1800s they were a common way of publicly announcing news and events, as well as advertising as done here. Broadsides usually contain more text than pictures and are printed in black ink, unlike posters, which are typically colorful, with a dominant image or design. No printer's name is listed on this broadside; the light brown color of the paper is due to age and was probably closer to white originally.
General Tom Thumb was the stage name for Charles S. Stratton, a little person performer who worked for P. T. Barnum. His weight is advertised as 15 pounds and his height as 28 inches, about 4 inches taller than when Barnum first met him in late 1842. Stratton would have been 10 3/4 years old at the time of this advertisement even though it is stated as 16. Barnum did this intentionally to make Stratton’s small stature seem all the more impressive to audiences. His appearances are advertised as levees (or receptions), and he was scheduled to do three levees on October 23: late morning, late afternoon, and early evening, each one 1 1/2 hours long.
Admission is noted as 25 cents for adults, and half price for children under 10. This broadside includes two illustrations. The top one is an imaginary scene showcasing Tom Thumb’s characters, some posed as Grecian statues and others in various costumes as the Little General, Napoleon Bonaparte, Frederick the Great, and in Scotch Costume, and Court Dress. The audience is an assemblage of the nobility and heads of state whom Stratton had met on his three-year tour of Europe with P. T. Barnum in the mid-1840s. The bottom illustration shows Stratton alongside his miniature carriage and ponies, called by its French term "equipage," while an admiring audience of ladies and gentlemen look on. The equipage is noted to have been a gift of Queen Victoria. Charles S. Stratton (January 4, 1838 - July 15, 1883) was an entertainer who got his start with P. T. Barnum in the 1840s. Stratton's parents signed him with Barnum when the boy was barely five years old. The family went to live in New York City where Stratton performed at Barnum's American Museum, located on Broadway at Ann Street.
The little boy took quickly to performing, and on tours he entertained audiences worldwide, including royalty. Stratton's performances brought him renown, becoming one of the biggest celebrities at the time, and considerable wealth. In 1863, Stratton married fellow performer and little person M. Lavinia Warren; the two had a happy marriage and continued touring and performing. On July 15,1883, Stratton suffered a stroke and passed away. He is buried at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, Connecticut.