Category Archives: Celebrities

More Fairy Wedding Photos

I admit it – I got the Fairy Wedding bug. No, not the Charles & Diana wedding bug, or the more recent William & Kate or the Kim & Kris wedding bug (I’d pay YOU to remove the People magazine footage of that debacle from my sight! Celebrity whores have you no shame???). But I digress – I’m fixated on the ORIGINAL celebrity wedding photos: the marriage of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren, photographed by THE American celebrity photographer, Mathew Brady (yes, Mathew with one T), and stage managed for maximum publicity by P.T. Barnum, the original master promoter and co-creator of the circus that still bears his name.

The Reception Dress, The Fairy Wedding
The Reception Dress, The Fairy Wedding

Here is the follow-up to one of my earlier images of Tom and Lavinia in their wedding ceremony outfits. This one is the dress she wore to their reception with the 2000 guest receiving line where they stood atop a grand piano at the Metropolitan Hotel.

George Nutt & Minnie Warren, Groomsman & Bridesmaid
George Nutt & Minnie Warren, Groomsman & Bridesmaid

Another, odder wedding souvenir card. This one features George Nutt and Minnie Warren, Lavinia Warren (Mrs. Tom Thumb)’s sister and later George’s wife, playing chess. What this had to do with the wedding is beyond me, but it obviously catered to some 19th century sensibility – perhaps the suggestion was that they had outsized brains in their diminutive bodies, further exaggerating the curiosity/freakish attraction to a customer looking for a spot of distraction from the civil war raging around them in 1863.

Tom Thumb, Wife and "child"
Tom Thumb, Wife and "child"

This image, undated and uncredited, is from some time later, possibly in the 1870s. Charles and Lavinia Stratton were not able to have children of their own, so P.T. Barnum, ever the showman, would acquire an orphan baby and give it to them to portray as their own, and when the baby got too big, he would find another one. Apparently, as a result, they “had” a one-year old baby for the better part of a decade.

As a memory refresher, here’s the rest of the gang in thumbnails.

Bride & Groom, The Fairy Wedding
Bride & Groom, The Fairy Wedding
Lavinia Warren Stratton, Mrs. Tom Thumb
Lavinia Warren Stratton, Mrs. Tom Thumb
Fairy Wedding Group #3
Fairy Wedding Group #3

Commodore Nutt and unknown little woman, Anonymous CDV (probably Brady)
Commodore Nutt and unknown little woman, Anonymous CDV (probably Brady)
Commodore Nutt, Mrs. and Mr. Tom Thumb
Commodore Nutt, Mrs. and Mr. Tom Thumb
Brady's Fairy Wedding
The Fairy Wedding, 1863 E&HT Anthony print, Obverse

More from the Family Circus (make that circus family)

I’ve been fascinated by the Tom Thumb “Fairy Wedding” photos since I found the first one. Now that I’ve discovered that there were multiple poses sold, I’m building a collection of them, trying to see if I can find them all. So far, I have four Brady images from the wedding, an unsigned image of Commodore Nutt and what appears to be a regular girl child without back-stamp, and another Brady image of Tom Thumb, his wife, Commodore Nutt and what I’m guessing is a circus giant (he appears to be twice the size of Charles Stratton – Tom Thumb – who was 3 feet 4 inches tall at his death, making the giant next to him in the neighborhood of 7 feet tall).

Here are the new ones:

Lavinia Warren Stratton, Mrs. Tom Thumb
Lavinia Warren Stratton, Mrs. Tom Thumb
Bride & Groom, The Fairy Wedding
Bride & Groom, The Fairy Wedding

Another from the gallery of Dead Celebrities

Carte De Visite, Henry Irving, British Actor, by Elliot & Fry
Carte De Visite, Henry Irving, British Actor, by Elliot & Fry

Here is Henry Irving, the celebrated English thespian, who owned and operated the Lyceum Theater in London. He was the first actor ever to receive knighthood. He hired Bram Stoker to be his stage manager at the Lyceum, and is allegedly the inspiration for the stage manager character in Stoker’s Dracula novel (a character notably absent from all the Dracula movies).

You’ll notice on the verso of the carte the coat-of-arms for the Order of the Garter. From my biographical research on Mr’s Elliot & Fry, they ran a very successful high-end studio in London, doing portraits of public and social, artistic, scientific and political eminences of the Victorian era. The studio operated for over 100 years before being bought out by another notable photographic firm. Most of their negatives were lost during the bombings of London in WW II. Neither Mr. Elliot or Mr. Fry were members of the Order, so the logo on their card must have been a sales pitch to their clientele to suggest the status by association. For those not in the know, the Order of the Garter is the highest possible social honor one can receive from the Queen of England. At any moment in time there are no more than 24 members of the order plus the Queen/King and the Prince of Wales. Membership is by nomination from current members, and at a minimum qualification you must already be knighted by the Queen.