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Guestbook Comments to James G. Mundie


Comments received from 2005 to the present may be seen here.

Comments received prior to 2004 may be seen here.


What a great site! Keep up the good work.

Peg Reno NV, USA - Sunday, 26 December 2004


Your site is fantastic!

I wish there was more... pictures and information about Annie Jones.

I saw her wax figure in Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not... from then on, I've been so curious about her.

More power!

Tallica Femme - Wednesday, 15 December 2004


Ollo there, Luvvy. Thanks for the lovely photos of me. Please keep in touch. I'm in a new coffee table book, called Extreme Performers, coming out early next year. It's by the same folks who do Harry Potter books.


NATA$HA VERU$CHKA, Queen of Swords New York NY, USA - Tuesday, 30 November 2004


Hell-O, James!
I have been enjoying your work for a couple of years now and I thought that I would drop you a line and express how wonderful I think your work is. I own Carnival Diablo, the world's only Victorian traveling sideshow. My grandfather owned Canada's largest traveling Sideshow from 1920 thru 1968, and I was brought up around his shows and have worked for the past 13 years producing Carnival Diablo. I enjoy the way you have taken certain performers from the past and created a mytho type world for them to live in. Before coming across your site, I was never a fan of pencil drawings... but you have mastered the medium and have created some beautiful pieces of fine art.

Your fiend,

Scott McClelland Canada - Monday, 29 November 2004


Hi. Found you by looking for information online about Princess Wee-Wee...

Wonderful site! You've imbued the freak portraits with a kind of quiet dignity.

Really enjoyed reading & poking around in your fascinating, fun site. I've seen Tina Newberry's, Mitch Gillette's (I think at Studio Diabolique or something like that on Pine Street [in Philadelphia] years ago) and Judith Schaechter's work before and admire them all, and I'm very happy to see the other artists' work shown here as well.

Not sure how you tolerate the abuse heaped on the [missionCREEP] site via the guestbook, but then you've shown yourself to have a terrific sense of humor and the absurd, so maybe it just rolls off your back, as it should. Plus there are many more supportive comments than negative, and the nay-sayers sound so ridiculous anyhow...

Question for you: do you know of, and/or have any ephemera, photographs, anything relating to Hubert's Museum, late of NYC? Please let me know if so.

Valerie USA - Saturday, 27 November 2004

JM: Thanks, Valerie.
I'm glad you found the site useful and interesting. I'm working on about eight or so new drawings which will all make an appearance on the website as they are finished, so do come back for a visit.

Since you are familiar with some of the other folks on missionCREEP, you might be interested to know that we will be having the first ever physical group exhibition of missionCREEP artists' works during the month of February 2005 at Nexus: Foundation for Today's Art in Old City. I don't have all the details yet, but in addition to work displayed in the gallery, we'll be doing a number of other events throughout the month. As soon as I have all the details, I'll post them.

Regarding the negative comments, they hardly ever find their way to me but they are usually ludicrous when they do. Oddly enough, the response to these drawings has been overwhelmingly positive. I can count the outright negative reactions on one hand and still have fingers left over. Most people really seem to 'get it'; either that, or the ones that don't rarely buck up the courage to write to me about it! Back before spammers shut down the general missionCREEP guestbook the most damning comment directed to me came from a woman who objected to something she misread in my description of
Midway Rubenesque.

I don't presently have any images, etc., of Hubert's, but I can ask around for you. Are you doing some research on the museum?

Hi, Jim. Thanks so much for your reply.
I'm interested in hearing more about the show at Nexus, and whatever other mischief you and your fellow Creeps are getting up to in February. I'll check your website periodically for news.
The Hubert's Museum (and Flea Circus) is actually an interest for a friend. He's always looking for information about the human oddities who exhibited there and ran the place. It was apparently quite a seedy mecca for a certain kind of entertainment, and pretty well known in its heyday.
Keep up the wonderful work...

All the best to you,

Valerie USA - Tuesday, 30 November 2004


Dear Mr. Mundie,
My name is Glenn Bowen, and facially I am a dead ringer for Eli Bowen. I have tried unsuccessfully for quite a time to find a living relative of Eli Bowen. I note that on your page of Bowen you have reference to a great-great granddaughterof his; would it be possible to put me in contact with her?

Glenn Bowen New York NY, USA - Friday, 26 November 2004

JM: More than happy to connect you with some family members. One of the unexpected outcomes of this series of drawings is that I have become a sort of conduit for connecting descendants of these circus performers. Completely accidental, but a worthwhile undertaking and I'm happy to help.


Interested in any photos, letters, stories, or other about Johnny Eck. I can be contacted at johnnyeckmuseum as of January 1st, 2005.

Jeffrey Pratt Gordon USA - Friday, 22 October 2004


Mr. Mundie: I found your site while surfing one day, and clicked through each of your fascinating and beautifully done portraits. I commend you for your treatment of the individuals you've drawn. During their lives, they suffered from jeers, fear, hatred, and misunderstanding. Your lovely drawings give them grace, almost sophistication. They have normalcy and some are even beautiful. You are a very talented and sensitive artist.

Miss H. Jade USA - Wednesday, 20 October 2004


As strange as it may sound I have a place in my heart for the unique side of "human" nature - that which is not "normal." I have learned random pieces of info but have only been to apply it here & there. With Halloween around the corner it's refreshing to find such a visual "tribute" - and information online.

Ever see Night of a 1000 Corpses? If nothing else the references and an old style of horror movie making set it apart.

Caroline Par USA - Sunday, 17 October 2004


Your site is fantastic and it got bookmarked right away.

Matthew Poindexter USA - Sunday, 26 September 2004


Mr. Mundie,
While doing some research on bearded ladies, I came across your website that had a picture of a bearded lady just like a picture I have. I wanted to know if you were able to find anything else about her or if you knew who I could contact to inquire.

The information I have found and want to verify on this lady is:
Name: Jane or Janice Devere (married name)
Born: 1842 in Kentucky
Married to: Samuel Devere
Occupation/Employement: Bearded lady in the Sells Brothers Circus

I found this picture in a very old family photo album. I do not believe she was a member of this family (I could be wrong) but may have been seen by a family member at a circus and bought the photo.

Any information you can provide or refer me to is greatly appreciated.

Belinda Marcrum USA - Sunday, 26 September 2004

JM: Jane Devere was indeed a bearded lady of no little fame who worked in a number of circuses during her career. The photograph you found in the family album is quite a beautiful one, and you are lucky to have come across it.

One bearded lady looks very much like another, and some are misidentified in the literature, so it is often difficult to know which is which. The photograph I have may very well be of Jane Devere, but the inscription on the back is puzzling and difficult to decipher. My
carte de visite has a barely legible pencil inscription on the back that looks like 'Myers' or 'Ingram' - can't tell which. Perhaps this was the good lady's maiden name, but the matter is further complicated by there having been another bearded lady who worked for P. T. Barnum whose stage name was "Mrs. Meyers".

Here's a bit about Jane Devere that appears on page 66 in Michael Mitchell's
Monsters, Human Freaks in America's Gilded Age: The Photographs of Chas. Eisenmann:
"Madame Devere

"When Jane Devere's beard was measured in 1884 at fourteen inches it set a record that still stands. She was born in Brooksville, Kentucky, in 1842. When a beard sprouted on little Jane's face, the [dime museums] beckoned and she set off on an exhibition career. She went out on the road in 1884 with Sells Brothers Circus and again in 1891. She joined the Sells' Australian tour the following year. After the turn of the century she toured with Campbell Brothers' Circus (1906) and the Yankee Robinson Show in 1908. In [Charles] Eisenmann's photograph [circa 1878] she stands beside her husband Bill."

So, apart from her husband's first name, that seems to confirm the other information you have found. I should also mention that in the photograph referenced above, Jane is wearing a dress very similar to the one in your photograph. Therefore, I think you can safely place the date of your photograph at around 1878.

It seems likely to me that your suspicions are correct: this woman was not a member of your family, but rather someone that had been seen on exhibition at some point. Freakshows were wildly popular entertainment, so people of all kinds flocked to them. Performers made the greater part of their income by selling souvenir photographs of themselves. Combine this with the Victorian passion for collecting photographs, and you can see how this image would have wound up in the album.


I inherited a ring from my grandfather. He told me the story of the giant's ring. On the ring it has "JACK EARLE" and his height. My grandfather bough this ring from Jack Earle himself. I wonderted if beside the sentimental value, is this ring worth anything?

Lee Bartletta USA - Monday, 20 September 2004

JM: Although I hate to speculate on such matters, from what I've seen on eBay, the current going rate for a giant's ring seems to be about $40. The more rare the ring, the better chance of bringing a good price; but I would say that the sentimental value and the sheer grooviness of the ring far outweighs the current market price.


A fantastic website, interesting, beautifull and well done. It is a true pleasure to read all. You mention that it is a mystery why H.R.H. Princess Wee Wee is called that way; that it is another name for urine.

´Wee´ is an old English word for ´small´ or ´little´. Because she was very little they doubled it to emphasize the smallness. In Scotland, Ireland and perhaps Nothern England the older generation still uses this, for example: [instead of] "When I was a small boy...", they would say, "When I was a wee boy..."

I do not want to come across as cheeky, but I thought you might be interested as you have done so much research about the facts already.

Marinda van Rensen - Thursday, 16 September 2004

JM: Thanks, but it was a joke, Marinda. I am well aware of the meaning of the word 'wee' and I'm quite prone to use it myself in daily conversation; however, when doubled up as in the case of HRH's stage name it doesn't actually mean 'little little' as one might hope, but rather references a child's word for urine. If that's the way her promoters wanted to go, they might as well have named her "Princess Pee Pee" or "Princess Piddle", which at least has nice alliteration.


Great Site.....Keep it up!

Shaun Jones Manchester UK - Sunday, 5 September 2004


Hello Jim, My name is Alli Amann. I am a recent gradute from FX school. I have a website that I think you really need to see, judging from the subject matter of your work. Please check it out and let me know what you think. Thanks for you time and help.

Alli USA - Sunday, 29 August 2004


Jesus "Chuy" The Wolf Boy will appearing in Dallas TX with the Brothers Grim Sideshow beginning August 6 through November 2004.

Dieguito el Negrito Clown Grove CA, USA - Saturday, 7 August 2004


I just happened upon your site and was blown away. Not only were your pieces beautiful but I swear I could feel them somehow... I particuarly like your drawing of women (Lady Anne is lovely).

Scary, beautiful, sensual. Please put me on the list for upcoming exhibitions.

Faye Nesselrodt Winchester VA, USA - Friday, 23 July 2004


I have a photograph of Eli [Bowen], his four sons and wife with the goat in my family pictures. On the back it says "Eli Bowen, wife and children born in Ohio". This is a professional photograph taken by Swords Bro's. York, Pa. I have been trying to find a connection to my family tree but now wonder if there is one. Would like to contact some of Eli's family.

Daniel W. Brotherton USA - Saturday, 17 July 2004


Dear Mr. Mundie,
The final thought that persuaded me to pluck up the courage and write you was the idea that an artist of your calibre might still find some enjoyment in hearing some praise from an unknown party. I was introduced to your work in the Pennsylvania Gazette by chance and must say I was instantly very attracted to it. I was happy, likewise, to find the added bonus of a complete gallery on your website for me to peruse and otherwise allow myself to study the (albeit small) pictures in that online gallery for long periods of time.

So, I just thought you ought to know that your work is most enthralling and inspiring, as is your ability to display humanity with absolute truth, with the endless amount of unique characteristics that characterize it, and most importantly its beauty: there is no separation between what is natural, what is artificial, what is beautiful and what conventionality might suggest is grotesque. Each is shed, to my perception, in the same beautiful but truthful light and being fond of the ole' Keats aphorism myself, noticing said truth and beauty is an important thing to me in all forms of art.

If ever you have an exhibition in the Philadelphia area, I wouldn't mind you dropping me a line saying so: I'd love to attend and see everything on a more intimate level...

P.S. You should, however, feel somewhat bad about the idea of your work being so very inspiring: Francesco's picture in particular and Vivaldi's mandolin concerto had me writing poetry the other day and that really is not a good thing for the health of the modern literary world, and since Vivaldi is deceased you're entirely to blame.

Brooke Palmieri USA - Friday, 16 July 2004


Your artwork is great.

Dahlia Dark USA - Tuesday, 13 July 2004


I am Sara Tomaini, daughter of Denny Tomaini, who was the son of Army Tomaini, who was the brother of Al Tomaini. Love is with my great aunt and uncle.

Sara Tomaini Tallahasee FL, USA - Thursday, 8 July 2004


Actually I was searching for stuff relating to Stefan Bibrowsky,(and it ain't much to find about him....) and came to your site by a link at American Dime Museum - I really like your page, and it is now marked as a favorite. Especially the booklist will be helpful for me. Thank You!

Nimue Norway - Friday, 2 July 2004


Wow! Fantastic!

I am not sure how I stumbled across Fortean Times, and from there on to your website, but it is the most amazing thing I have seen yet on the Internet. It is a curious and splendid mix of history, art, myth, and biography.

Steve Freitas - Friday, 25 June 2004


In my deceased friend's genealogy of the Flynn family, I believe she mentions a member of the Flynn family who was exhibited in the World's Fair in Philadelphia, as a Tom Thumb. This info was gained from a pitchcard they once had about him. Unfortunately, her son took it to school for Show and Tell and it was never returned. Should you ever run across this other Tom Thumb, please let me know. I have info on this family.

I enjoyed your gallery. As a child wandering through the "Freak Shows" I was astonished at some and felt sad. I remember an Alligator Man at whom I was staring who looked at me with such hatred I have never forgotten it. Also a conjoined infant in a jar of some sort. I also saw Daisy and Violet [Hilton], the conjoined twins who were joined at the hip and who could have so easily been separated had doctors had that skill back in the 30's and early 40's. Thanks for all your artwork and stories.

Esther Griffin Binghamton NY, USA - Friday, 11 June 2004


Dear Mr. Mundie,
My name is Linda Duquesne, and my grandfather Guilford Duquesne was a circus actor from the 1920's to possibly 1934. He left my grandmother and my father in 1925 and was never heard of again. The only pictures we have of him are as Uncle Sam on stilts and with black face beside a circus train. My father has pictures of a woman who rode a motorcycle in a circular metal ball named Carey Davis, and a postcard with a family called Dolletta and Family. Would you possibly have any information about these particular people? We have never been able to trace who he worked for. Thank you for your time. Loved the web site.

Linda Duquesne Lafayette CO, USA - Monday, 7 June 2004


Somewhere in my collection I have an original cabinet photo of a woman I thought at first was wearing a black lace blouse under a jumper but on closer inspection found that she was tattooed over her upper body. Are you familiar with this woman?

Pam Beveridge Kenduskeag ME, USA - Saturday, 5 June 2004

JM: Could be any number of tattooed women. There was one performer (name escapes me at the moment) who had an all-over tattoo that looked like fabric, including fishnet stockings with garters! If you can find the photo in your collection and send me a scan, I might be able to identify her for you.


My grandfather and greatgrandfather were in the circus and I was looking for them. Site is very interesting... Thanks.

Sara Downham Elwood IN, USA - Fri, 4 June 2004


Just discovered your site! What do you know about Major Charles Gantz of Fairfield, Iowa? He was once billed as the smallest man in the world. I have a postcard with his photo and message.

Dan Ives USA - Thursday, 3 June 2004


I have been studying geneology for a few years and I had a name for a relative but could not put a face to him. I stumbled on your site and remembered he was a vertically challenged man who stood about 3 foot, and was a cousin to my father. Thank you for an interesting site.

Linda Bushell Brisbane, Australia - Thursday, 3 June 2004


Hallo, James.
I think your site is a brilliant and a credit to you, there is plenty to peruse on a rainy day.

Toni Evans New Zealand - Thursday, 3 June 2004


Do you have any information as to who [Margaret Ann Robinson's] parents were? We have a midget in our family tree by the name of Major Robinson. He also was in P.T. Barnum Bailey Circus billed as the world's smallest man. I found it interesting when I saw Margaret Ann Robinson, world's smallest woman. Just wondering if they could be related. I have heard nothing about her.

Robert Piper USA - Thursday, 3 June 2004


Do you have any information on Delos/DeLosse W. Shade? He was a dwarf born circa 1850 in Michigan or Indiana. I have photos of him and believe he appeared in circus settings.

N. Van Epps USA - Thursday, 3 June 2004


A truly interesting site! As the little person many of us are most familiar with is “Timmy” in the afternoon soapie Passions could you tell us please something about “Timmy”. Thanks!

Louise Karaskiewicz Australia - Thursday, 3 June 2004

JM: Thanks, Louise. I aim to please.

Wow, you Aussies really do love your soaps! I have to admit to having only a passing acquaintance with the outrageously over-the-top
Passions (I'm more of a Days of Our Lives and East Enders sort of guy), but I didn't want to disappoint, so here's a wee bit (no pun intended) about Josh Ryan "Timmy" Evans I just found for you at

"Josh Ryan Evans played Timmy, one half of daytime television’s most unusual supercouple. Timmy, a doll created by Harmony’s resident witch Tabitha Lenox, [later] turned into a real boy in the winter of 2001.

"At the age of 12, without telling his parents, Josh printed his own personal business cards and hired his own agent. This landed him his first part in a nationally run commercial for Dreyer's/Edy's Ice Cream entitled 'The Dancing Baby.' Due to the popularity of the Dreyer's Cloe Award[-]winning commercial, Josh was tapped for his first feature film role in Columbia/Tri-Star's
Baby Geniuses [never heard of it, but it sounds ghastly].

"His television credits include
Ally McBeal, where he plays the part of Oren, a young attorney of prodigy stature, and the arch nemesis of Calista Flockhart's character. He is also featured in the A&E miniseries P.T. Barnum, in which he plays the lead role of Tom Thumb, and in Poltergeist: The Legacy for Showtime. Evans played the young Grinch in Imagine Entertainment's The Grinch, starring Jim Carrey [an insult to Dr. Suess and a crime against humanity].

"Evans has received two consecutive
Soap Opera Digest Awards for Outstanding Male Scene Stealer for his role as Timmy. A native of Hayward, California, Josh was born on January 10 [1982].

"Tragically, Josh passed away on August 5, 2002, due to complications surrounding a congenital heart disease. In a heart-breaking act of irony, on this same day, PASSIONS aired the episode where the character of Timmy also passed on, having given his heart to Chastity."

So there you have it... art mimics life (or death, in this case). Reading further down the page I see that Evans was an achondroplastic dwarf standing a mere 3 feet 2 inches tall, who enjoyed listening to Billie Holiday and the Who, and could impersonate Gloria Swanson [?!].


Eli Bowen was my ggaunt's brother. If you have any info on him and his family, it would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

Joyce Bennett USA - Wed, 2 Jun 2004


I am interested in e-mailing with people who are related to or know more about Dolletta Dodd Boykin and her husband Major James Boykin. Both were little people and worked in sideshow.

Karen Morlan California USA - Wednesday, 2 June 2004


I [am] researching my family, and according to family history my gg grandfather left his family probably about 1855-1860 and joined Sam Dock's Preforming Dog Circus. He never returned. His name was Lewis F. Robinson, from [Pennsylvania].

I saw your e-mail address on Rootsweb's newsletter and thought you could help me or tell me where I might look to get more information on him.

Linda Reed USA - Wednesday, 2 June 2004

JM: Hmmm... that's a puzzler. I haven't heard of Sam Dock's troupe, but I will post your query on a forum to which I belong and see if anybody can tell me anything more or provide a lead.

The trouble with outfits like this is that they rarely left any official traces, and many people working in such outfits were happy to, shall we say "stay beneath the notice of the law". Chances are your gg grandfather assumed another name when working for Dock, which may further frustrate your attempts to find him.


I visited your website. I was wondering do you have any pictures for the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893 for circus or entertainers?

Ritchie Hansen USA - Wednesday, 2 June 2004

JM: I don't have anything in particular relating to 1893's World Columbian Exhibition in my collection at the moment. It's possible some of the performers for whom I have carte de visites did play the fair, but I have yet to determine that.

If you haven't already seen it, here is an interesting virtual tour of the exhibition.


God, this is sick!

Fiona "Yoda" Murchie Perthshire, Scotland - Monday, 17 May 2004


Wonderful site, with rare and beautiful pictures. Thank you :)

Niki Keller USA - Monday, 17 May 2004


Dear Jim,
I enjoyed reading your pages on Princess Wee Wee. I have some more info for you. This info was found in my research on Lillian Goodner, Queen of the Sepias (Alabama Heritage spring issue).

After her travels with the circus, Princess Wee Wee toured with The Whitman Sisters vaudeville show starting about 1925. She was a featured dancer and was often partnered with a 6-foot tall male dancer. Princess Wee Wee was from Baltimore. Reportedly (although I have not documented this) Princess Wee Wee danced for President Coolidge at The White House.

Marc L. Bankert Montgomery AL, USA - Saturday, 15 May 2004


Jim, I was just stumbling around the net looking for photographic evidence to back up the charge that a coworker is sporting a rather unconvincing 'bearded lady' beard, and came across your site. The pictures and idea behind it are awesome! I am sure we have discussed it at some point but the whole sideshow freak thing is one of my favorite topics, specifically Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy, who happens to be missing from your work, but no biggie. The only book in your reading list I have read is Leslie Fielder's, but I am going to dig into some of your recommendations... If you and the lovely misses ever happen to be around West Philly, stop in and 'aks' for me. Hope all is well otherwise, tell Kate I was asking for her.

Michael O'Halloran Philadelphia PA, USA - Friday, 14 May 2004


Dear Sir: I have a picture like the one you have of Princess Tiny, only a different pose. Do you have any more information on her? This was in my parents things when they passed away, so do not know where it orginated. Any help would be appreciated.

Ellen Casebolt USA - Tuesday, 4 May 2004

JM: I'm sorry to say that I know nothing more about Princess Tiny at this time. There simply isn't much information available about performers such as herself, and what rather complicates matters is that her stage name was rather common among little people. Furthermore, little people were so common in the circus sideshow world that very few of them ever attracted much attention - some notable exceptions being Tom Thumb, The Doll Family, Lucia Zarate, etc.

Are you able to see her tiny majesty's right hand in your photograph? In mine it appears that she may have had extra fingers, which is certainly unusual when combined with dwarfism. Would it be possible for you to send me a scan of your photo? I would love to see it.


Congrats to James. I love your strange and wonderful work, bravo!

Sarah Hauser New York NY, USA - Monday, 3 May 2004


Your site is very interesting.

Lynne Fae USA - Monday, 3 May 2004


Your work is such a wonderful combination of grotesque/elegance that I really value and admire.

James Sheely Columbus OH, USA - Monday, 3 May 2004


Dear Mr. Mundie,
My daughter discovered your picture and writings about Dolletta Boykin. Dolletta (or Dollietta as I have always believed her name to be) was married to my maternal grandmother's brother, "Major" James A. Boykin. I have several postcards of the Major, Dollietta, and Luceia, all of which have written statements from 'Dollie', as she always signed them. I also have one letter written by Dollie dated June 1907. My mother was Luceia's first cousin, and was just three months younger than Luceia. My grandmother lost contact with her brother early in the last century, and never knew what became of him. In fact, Luceia was the only child that we thought they had.

I would be most interested in corresponding with Dolletta Larie Adams Blalock. I do not know very much about my Boykin ancestors, but my daughter and I are now in the process of researching this line. My grandmother, Ora Mae Boykin, was the daughter of James W. Boykin and Leoma Daniel, as was Major Boykin, but that is as far back as I know. However, we do have some leads that we are working on.

... Thank you very much for your assistance, and I look forward to hearing from Mrs. Blalock.

Tom Masten Sparks NV, USA - Monday, 26 April 2004


Hello. I was searching the internet for information about Francesco Lentini and stumbled across your page. I was thrilled to find the pitch card with his story in it.

Francesco Lentini is my great-grandfather. Other than the fact that he had 3 legs, I didn't know much about him. That was great to read something that he wrote. Thank you for making that available!

Laura Lentini USA - Wednesday, 21 April 2004


Hi James,

My name is Enrique Enriquez. I’m a multimedia artist from Caracas, Venezuela (I’m living in NY now). I research the relationship between the manifestations of pre-modern entertainment and performance art, combining mentalism and conjuring into my performance pieces.

All my life I have been fascinated by sideshow, circus, magic, ventriloquism, stuffed animals and all that we can frame under the concept of “Cabinet of Curiosities”. (I just finished a book of essays on magic and circus)

I’m currently working on a piece based on storytelling (I use mentalism to “illustrate” the stories) and I found your webpage while doing research for Jack Earle. I have one of Earle’s rings and actually I’m using it to open the piece.

I was wondering if you can point me to others sources about Earle. Seems like there is not that much around. I’m also curious: is the ring portrayed in your webpage, yours? ...

I was looking at your drawings. I really like your work. I [would] love to send you a little Quicktime [file] of my last piece ... a performance called 'Blindfold Portraits' in which I draw portraits of members of the audience while blindfolded...

Thanks for your webpage.

EE New York NY, USA - Sunday, 18 April 2004

JM: Thanks you for your letter and your kind words about my work. I took a brief look at your website this morning and was intrigued by your act combining drawing and mentalism. Interesting spin on an time-honored act, as well as drawing itself - both as artform and experience.

No, there isn't much information out there to be found about Jack Earle, despite his apparent popularity. Every book on the circus from that era makes a mention of him, but hardly anyone provides any new information. The facts as I know them were pretty much laid out on the Giants page of the Sideshow Ephemera section of my site...

Jack seems to have been an amiable fellow. What I find interesting is the persistence of a wild west cowboy identity in the American sideshow presentation of giants. Okay, Jack Earle being from Texas, it makes a bit of sense. But why should the Italian-American from New Jersey, Al Tomaini (apparently a close friend of Jack Earle), or the German couple the Fischers dress up in 10-gallon hats, cowboy boots, and fringed vests? A very odd, but enduring motif.

The ring on my pages is indeed part of my collection... If you're interested in getting another one for yourself, they do pop up now and again...


I am very intrigued by the photograph of Tom Thumb on your website. A couple of cousins and I are researching our family history and believe that the photographer "J. Skingle" is one Jabez Skingle, a relative of ours who was a photographer in London in the 19th century...

Do you have any more photographs by him that you did not use on your website? Or any more information that might relate to him?

How sure are you of the date ‘circa 1856’? This is too early for Jabez. It could be yet another relative; Skingle is not a common name. We have photographs listed by Jabez in the 1880’s and possibly 1870’s.

Incidentally, Jabez Skingle moved to Philadelphia later in his life and in 1913 listed an address in Philly as his home. Maybe you have come across some of his work in Philadelphia from 1900 onwards?

Any information that you can supply would be greatly appreciated...

Christine Price USA - Saturday, 17 April 2004

JM: I'm sorry to say that I don't have any information about J. Skingle. The Tom Thumb photograph on my site is the only one from that studio in my collection.

As to the date, that was my best estimate based on my knowledge of Tom Thumb and his travels to London with P. T. Barnum. If the dwarf in the photograph is Charles Stratton, he is far younger (and thinner!) in appearance than the Charles Stratton of the mid 1860s (circa the so-called 'fairy wedding'), and doubly so when compared to the portly bearded figure of his latter years. Therefore, 1856 would fit with a trip to England Thumb undertook in that year to help Barnum rebuild his fortune. However, it might also be another dwarf all together, trying to make some money using the famous man's name.

If your J. Skingle wasn't active until the 1870's, there is one further possibility (barring another Skingle predecessor): it was quite common for photographers of that era to print and sell the work of other photographers - especially when the subject was a famous individual. Perhaps the photograph in my collection is from the Jabez Skingle (love that name!) London studio of the 1870's, but printed from a plate purchased from another studio. For instance, Skingle might have acquired the plates from a studio active in the 1850s and '60s, and finding a plate of the young Tom Thumb decided to reprint it and make a little extra cash. Or, Tom Thumb may have contracted with Skingle to reprint an earlier exposure, or... well, lots of possibilities, really.

I haven't come across any mention of Jabez in Philly after the turn of the century; but then again, I haven't been looking for him. I'll keep a weather eye peeled to see if he comes up again. Where in Philadelphia was Jabez living or working in 1913?

Thanks for your prompt reply – there do seem to be quite a few possibilities. We are still trying to find out about this great, great, great uncle. He was born in 1846 which is why I know 1856 is too early.

He came in through Ellis Island in March 1913 and listed his home address as 2453 N15th Street, Philadelphia. On the manifest he says he first came to the US in 1900. He lists his profession as photographer which is consistent with what we have found in the UK. We haven’t yet found any more trace of him here but we haven’t been looking very long. He had studios in London and later in the West of England. Then he disappeared and re-emerged in Philly. I think he must have been quite a character because he was no spring chicken when he moved to the US.

The 1881 census lists him as a hawker in portraiture (wonderful) and the 1891 census lists him as a photographer...

Well, thank you again for your time and if you do run across anything by him I would love to hear from you.

I enjoyed your web site.

Christine Price USA - Sunday, 18 April 2004(EDT)


Could you please help me? I am a relative of Myrtle Corbin, she is a first cousin to my greatgrandmother. I am trying to locate any information I can about her for my family roots. Do you know when she died, where she is buried, or any other living relatives, such as her children or grandchildren? If you have any information, I would greatly appreciate it.


Jo Ann Kelly USA - Sunday, 11 April 2004

JM: I don't really know much else about Myrtle Corbin other than her sideshow spiel (the whole story about some of her children having been born from one pelvis, and the rest from the other). Myrtle is discussed in Gould & Pyle's Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, where she is described as 'Mrs. B' - which I assume refers to her married name, whatever that may have been. Actually, the article lends some credence to the sideshow talker's story!

Apparently, Myrtle died in 1928. I assume she is buried somewhere in Texas, but at the moment I have no idea where... but if you find out I would love to know.


Dear James-

I came across your site. I must say with all respect it is well designed. The website is well in [keeping] with the art. The project as a whole, I must say is one of the most well thought out - A+ keeping to the pure direction of the subject AND has well representive displays of the artwork.

Now even more about the art — I was HIGHLY impressed with the renderings, The time consuming way the subjects were created. The print/drawings must have taken a long time each. I can see your love of the craft in each piece and subject — well thought out and using many well remarked images.

The theme is wonderful — a Middle Age theme with a dark side luminated by a time cultural exchange. BRAVO.

Overall, I really wanted to tell you what I thought and felt about this website and excellent art. Even the sign that is from the 1870's announcing James Mundie is in step.

I would like to further see more of your artwork. It's something worth collecting.

Christopher J. Maslon Daejeon, South Korea - Monday, 12 April 2004

JM: Thank you for your kind and thoughtful praise. I'm glad you enjoyed the site and hope you will continue to visit in the future. I have several new works in the series underway — seven or eight new drawings, a woodcut and an etching — which will make an appearance on the site as soon as I have finished them. There are also a few new items to add to the 'ephemera' section, so I hope there will always be something interesting to discover.

Yes, mine is rather a labor intensive and time consuming process, but as someone once said, "If you love doing it, shouldn't you take your time?"


These works are remarkable. I truly want them in my possession. I have always been fascinated by this sort of subject matter and your gallery is a buffet.

Jack M. Absinthe USA - Friday, 2 April 2004


I like your website.

I miss the old sideshows. These "self made" freaks of today (a la the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow, Diamond Rich, etc.) are fun but don't hold a candle to Jo Jo the Dog Faced Boy, Schlitzie the Pinhead or Johnny Eck...

There's a guy in Hollywood named J.D. who owns The Museum of Death who had a small "Freak Farm" when the museum was in San Diego which consisted of some two-headed goats, etc. (none alive). He was open on Hollywood Boulevard for a while but closed a few years ago and hasn't opened back up. Too bad our politically correct times won't allow for more true sideshows and exhibits like in the old days.

Steve, Laguna Tattoo Laguna CA, USA - Thursday, 25 Mar 2004


Fantastic art and exhibit all throughout. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you at the gathering in 2004.

RED! [Stuart] the swordswallower, Philadelphia PA, USA - Sunday, 21 March 2004


You have a really impressive website. I spent quite some time looking at it even after I realized that I wasn't going to find what I was looking for. I happened across your website as I was looking for information about the Piccolo Midgets: Otto Thieme, Alex Ebert, Otto Schemmel and Adolph Schemmel. They were a famous circus act and also did vaudeville but are now lying in obscurity in a local cemetery. I am making files on interesting local people for the library and decided to see what I could find out about them. So far I have only one full article and some bits from the New York Times.

Robin Walsh Macdonald DeWitt Library, Stone Ridge NY, USA - Thursday, 18 March 2004

JM: Sorry I can't be of much help with the Piccolo's. I have heard of them, but I don't presently have anything in my collection relating to them.

However, I will note that they are featured in Mark Sloan's book
Hoaxes, Humbugs and Spectacles. I recently noticed while watching Tim Burton's film Big Fish that something about the midget character Gigi seemed familiar. Sure enough, when I got home I picked up the Sloan book and found that the Piccolo costume (with a little compartment in the chest from which a poodle would emerge) was the very same Burton used in the film. Obscure, perhaps, but not entirely forgotten.

Good luck with your research.

Thank you! You have something like tripled the information that I have so far!! No, really! This is just the kind of little bit that I can work with.

Robin Walsh - Friday, 19 March 2004


I found your art work to be exciting and very thought provoking.

Brett A. Bernardini Norwich CT, USA - Tuesday, 9 March 2004


Your work is incredible - the detail, the mood, the subject, and technique.

All the best,

Kathryn Pannepacker Philadelphia PA, USA - Monday, 8 March 2004


Hello, I recently bought a CdV of a 'Mlle. Selena' that I was told could have been one of the Circassians. Just how late were the girls exhibited?

I appreciate people like you who put information like this on the 'net!

Ira Medcalf - Sunday, 29 February 2004

JM: Pleased to be of service, Ira.

The Circassian model of presentation continued up until about the 1910's, when it just sort of died out as a sideshow persona. I suppose that the First World War, the fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the rise of Turkey as a modern nation did a great deal to demystify that particular tale.

By this time, the emphasis was less on the whole eroto-ethnic story of the beautiful white slave girl rescued from unspeakable horrors at the hands of the Turks, and more on these women as just unusual people with strange hair. In the process they became little more than snake handlers. Some would add an extra element of interest by doing sword swallowing or some other working act, but that's about as far as it went.

The Circassian beauties were soon replaced in popularity by the tattooed women — who provided for the marks a new level of sexual interest, and for the performers a new model of female empowerment.


Dear Mr. Mundie,
I've found your site to be invaluable in my recent endeavors.

For the last five months I've been developing a dark screenplay which is heavily inspired by the collections of the Mütter Museum as well as sideshow history in general. In a bout of writers-block I've been able to use your site for research and inspiration, where other on-line resource has fallen short.

Best Wishes,

Ryan Oliver North Hollywood CA, USA - Sunday, 29 February 2004


Like your site a lot — beautifully designed, interesting content.

Brian, UK - Wednesday, 18 February 2004


I visited your website with your interesting works... and will visit it again.

Greetings from Eva.

Eva Pietzcker Germany - Monday, 16 February 2004


I find your website really interesting!

Aine Scannell UK - Monday, 16 February 2004


I just found your site and have been very impressed with the energy and creativity of the work presented.

Diane Cutter - Monday, 16 February 2004


Dear Mr. Mundie,
I really like your Prodigies series... They are so smart and witty! I love the Moulin Rouge drawing. Thanks for the information!

Christa Carroll Philadelphia PA, USA - Wednesday, 4 February 2004


Your work is absolutely incredible. Truly inspired, and very clever. It's very generous of you to post the images in an online gallery so that everyone can enjoy them.

Perhaps sometime we'll get to meet in person. Thanks for writing, and I'll be looking for your information to add to our links directory.

Jackie Monticup, USA - Monday, 2 February 2004


I love the homage to Pasqual [Pinon] - you do beautiful work.

Sarina USA - Friday, 30 January 2004


Dear Mr. Mundie,
I love your artwork with a flaming passion. I am really interested in anatomy and deformities, especially the sideshow sort... I enjoyed your site and art very much, thank you.

Vivian - Friday, 23 January 2004


Excellent gallery. The use of symbolism combined with the subject matter and references to art throughout history give every picture profound impact and meaning. Thank you.

Brian Pickens WV, USA - Saturday, 10 January 2004


Thank you for profiling my greatgreatgrandfather, Eli Bowen. It's great to see information on him because I know so little about him... By the way, my greatgrandfather Adrian is the little boy in the picture. Thank you again for the great article!

Gabrielle Bowen - Friday, 2 January 2004


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