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Circus Sideshow Cabinet Photo Barnum Baily

Circus Sideshow Cabinet Photo Barnum Baily

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Historic 19th Century SIDESHOW CABINET PHOTO
"The Living Human Skeleton"

Timeless Treasures:  Uncover the Magic of Vintage Circus Memorabilia

Amazing piece of  Barnum & Bailey Circus Sideshow History.   An incredible vintage antique 19th century photo from the early days of the original PT Barnum era, "The Living Human Skeleton" was personally hired by PT Barnum.  A most worthy Circus Museum piece with renown mid 19trh century photographer stamp on back.     Although there are reproductions of this image online there are only a handful of Originals, and THIS is one of them!   

Very rare and original, 1870’s Pitch Card / CDV Photograph of P. T. Barnum’s Sideshow / Circus Performer Isaac W. Sprague - aka "The Living Human Skeleton" and “The Original Thin Man” - with his wife and children.

This wonderful, CDV Photo measures 2 1/4" by 3 5/8" and is mounted on its original, square corner, gold rule border, Card Mount (overall size 2 1/2" by 4 1/8"). The Image is a full length, standing portrait of the4 Side Show Performer along with his wife and three children.

Printed text on the mount below the image reads “Mr. I. W. Sprague / Age 38 years / Height 5 feet, 5 ½ inches / Weight 46 pounds”. The back of the mount carries the mark of the well known celebrity Photographer Charles Eisenmann of New York City.

This CDV is of the typical style of a Circus Side Show Pitch Card. This type of Photograph was sold at locations where the performer was appearing as a money making endeavor and in some cases, for an additional fee, the Pitch Card / Photo would be signed by the Performer.

Size:  2 1/4" by 3 5/8"

* See enlargeable images above and below 

Below is copied from his Wiki Page:

 Isaac W. Sprague (May 21, 1841 – January 5, 1887) was an entertainer and sideshow performer, billed as "The Living Human Skeleton. Sprague was born on May 21, 1841, in East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Although normal for most of his childhood, Sprague began irreversibly losing weight at age 12 after feeling ill after swimming. The weight loss continued throughout his life despite having a healthy appetite. His condition has been described by historians as extreme progressive muscular atrophy that ultimately led to his death. Sprague bounced around from job to job during early adulthood. He worked as both a cobbler for his father and a grocer. However, his illness kept him from continuing down either of those career paths. His parents died and Sprague could not work enough to support himself, so he was left unemployed. In 1865, he was offered a job at a circus sideshow, where he became known as "The Living Skeleton" or "the Original Thin Man".

The next year P. T. Barnum, the director of the circus, hired Sprague to work at his (newly reopened and successful) American Museum Freak show. Barnum paid Sprague $80 a week for his services. Sprague remembered the moment Barnum offered him the job: "Mr. Barnum stood very near me, and I overheard him say to his agent, 'Pretty lean man, where did you scare him up?'".   Barnum's Museum burned down in 1868 and Sprague managed to escape with his life. At this point, Sprague took time off to marry his wife, Tamar Moore. They had three sons who lived healthy, normal lives. Sprague made attempts to stay away from the sideshow, but he could not escape financial distress. It is rumored that in addition to being financially responsible for his wife and their three sons, Sprague had a gambling problem. His condition also kept him from finding real work anywhere other than Barnum's, so he continued to tour off and on throughout the country and eventually overseas.

By the age of 44, he was 5 feet and 6 inches tall with a weight of only 43 pounds. Sprague's condition required him to be constantly taking in nutrients. His health was in such a poor state that he often carried milk in a flask around his neck. He would sip this from time to time to keep himself up and conscious. He died on January 5, 1887, in poverty, of asphyxia in Chicago, Illinois.

This very rare and wonderful, CDV Photograph is in excellent to near mint condition. The Photograph itself exhibits sharp focus, strong contrast and rich, warm tonality. Both the Image and the mount are clean and crisp and exceptionally well preserved.

Note: CVtreasures stamp Not on original photo

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