Invasion of the little people!

In my online shopping peregrinations, I came across another Nellie Keeler CDV, so of course I had to add the second varietal to my collection. The captions have it that these are one year apart. Who knows the truth of such things, as so many facts about the circus freak sideshow performers were grossly exaggerated for dramatic effect.

Nellie Keeler, by Bogardus
Nellie Keeler, by Bogardus

Here is the first one I collected, for comparison:

Nellie Keeler, by Bogardus
Nellie Keeler- by Bogardus

And somewhat ironically, here is a larger size (roughly 5×7) Cabinet Card of a much larger woman, seated in front of the same dining room sideboard on which Nellie Keeler is posing. When I saw that, I had to grab it just for that cool factor of coincidence. I’d read a lot about how work of battlefield photographers could be connected if not identified by the use of the same backdrops, furniture and even prop weapons/uniforms in Civil War tintypes. While not exactly the same thing, this is my first instance of finding the same props in two different photos of two VERY different subjects by the same photographer.

Plump lady cabinet card, Bogardus Studio
Plump lady cabinet card, Bogardus Studio

And last but not least (well, maybe least, based on the factoids on the front of the card) is Admiral Dot – yet another Barnum embellishment with an exalted military rank for someone of restrained stature. A contemporary of General Tom Thumb, Commodore Nutt, Major Atom, Count Rosebud and Baron Littlefinger, he also performed in sideshows.

Admiral Dot, published by E&HT Anthony
Admiral Dot, published by E&HT Anthony

As the photographer is not credited, it may well have been one of the lesser-known New York studios specializing in the theatrical trade who was able to work a deal with Anthony to distribute their cards.

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