Tag Archives: Lavinia Warren

The Thumbs Keep Marching On….

Two more recent acquisitions. One is a solo of Minnie Warren, the sister of Lavinia Warren Stratton (aka Mrs. Tom Thumb). She played maid of honor at her sister’s wedding as a bookend to Commodore Nutt being Tom Thumb’s best man, helping set the stage for P.T. Barnum’s “Fairy Wedding”. This is another in the Brady grouping of photos related to the wedding. Note the E&HT Anthony embossed seal on the card.

Minnie Warren, by Brady
Minnie Warren, by Brady

Minnie Warren did marry, but not Commodore Nutt – she married yet another little person stage performer, Edmund Newell, aka General Grant Jr or Major Edmund Newell. Minnie died in childbirth in 1878. She is buried in Middleborough, Massachusetts. (What IS it with these ersatz military titles?)

Here is the first Tom Thumb Wedding photo I’ve seen NOT by Brady. This is by the Stereoscopic Company of London which despite its rather pedestrian and industrial name was in fact one of the premier photographic portrait parlors of its day. The Regent Street address if nothing else should be a clue to that.

I’m still trying to figure out who/what the monogram embossed into the verso of the card stands for – CWA? CAW? WAC? I also dig the American flag embossed as well – it appears to have only two rows of stars, which was probably as much artistic license taken trying to fit a readable symbol into the space as anything. I’m a little surprised at the need to mark the image as somehow American – the Thumbs were international superstars and virtually everyone would have known they were Yankees.

The Thumbs, by the Stereoscopic Co of London
The Thumbs, by the Stereoscopic Co of London

Count Rosebud and Baron Littlefinger

Baron Littlefinger & Family
Baron Littlefinger & Family

I realize I just posted this image in my previous entry, but I think it’s worthy of a separate post. Frankly, I’ve had it in my collection for a while but for some reason I didn’t post it at the time I added it. So I’m making up for the past omission. I think it’s worthy of adding a separate entry because their story is interesting. Count Rosebud was an Italian named Primo Magri. He and his brother Giuseppe (or according to some accounts, Ernesto), Baron Littlefinger, were allegedly given actual titles by Pope Pius IX. They toured as performers. In 1885, Count Rosebud married the widow Thumb, Mrs. Lavinia Warren. They had to perform into old age because they supposedly had very lavish tastes and could not afford to retire. I haven’t seen any back story on the rest of the family referenced in this photo – who were they, were they really the Count’s family or just props like the Thumbs’ baby, did he divorce this woman at some point before marrying Lavinia, or was he a widower?

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

Tom Thumb’s Fairy Wedding by Brady

Ok, I’ve been waiting for a while to get this one. I originally saw a listing with a copy of this image on Ebay for somewhat north of $300. I debated and debated whether to get it or not. After much consideration, I passed on it, thinking that the signatures on the back were most likely facsimiles, and not original signatures. Patience paid off – another copy (the one I bought) showed up. While not quite as nice a condition, it actually looks much better in person than it does in the scans. My copy had the added benefit of being less than a quarter of the current asking price of the other copy I passed on.

For those not familiar with the subject matter, Charles Stratton, AKA General Tom Thumb, was a star of the P.T. Barnum sideshow and performer from the 1840s to the late 1870s. He was born a relatively large, healthy baby but stopped growing significantly before his second birthday. At his tallest he was 3 feet 4 inches. In 1863, he married another dwarf, Lavinia Warren. His best man was George W.M. Nutt, a fellow dwarf and performer in Barnum’s circus, and Lavinia’s bridesmaid was her younger sister, Minnie, also a dwarf. The event was dubbed “The Fairy Wedding” and was the social event of the year. Two thousand guests packed Grace Episcopal Church in Manhattan. After the wedding, Charles and Lavinia went to Washington where they were received by President Lincoln. Charles, Lavinia, George and Minnie posed for Matthew Brady who went on to sell CDVs of the photo as souvenirs of the wedding through his publisher, E. & H.T. Anthony. This is one of the E. & H.T. Anthony productions.