Tag Archives: P.T. Barnum’s Circus

Another Tom Thumb, Lavinia Warren, George Nutt and Minnie Warren photo – for Queen Victoria

Here are the Thumbs, Commodore Nutt and Minnie Warren in the outfits they wore when presented to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Given that the image was produced by E&HT Anthony, in all likelihood it was taken by Mathew Brady in New York upon their return to the US after meeting the Queen. The verso contains the usual “Compliments of …” facsimile signatures of the four subjects. This probably was commissioned by P.T. Barnum to sell at his American Museum.

The Thumbs, Commodore Nutt and Minnie Warren, as presented to the Queen
The Thumbs, Commodore Nutt and Minnie Warren, as presented to the Queen

Two more CDVS

Betcha thought I had quit collecting! Nah, it’s just in hiatus – makes for a good winter pastime when you’re cooped up in the house. But I found a couple more images that were interesting enough to add.

First up – another Tom Thumb and his Wife. I love this one not only because it shows them in their advancing years, but it demonstrates that they remained culturally relevant throughout their lives. I also love the handwritten notes on the back – in this case it gets things wrong about them (they were NOT 18th century performers, and I’m not aware that they were musicians – Tom Thumb’s main performance was as a comic impersonator, doing skits where he portrayed Napoleon and Cupid).

Tom Thumb and Minnie Warren, in their advancing years
Tom Thumb and Minnie Warren, in their advancing years

Here’s another circus performer pair – the hand-written label says “Gullie and Lottie Tarkinton”. I was unable to find any reference to who they were. They’re not listed on Olympians of the Sawdust Circle. I’m guessing they are sisters, perhaps even twins. The one is dressed and posed in a very masculine way, quite in contrast to the other, which is its own kind of interesting. And I’m a sucker for a photo that you can see the head clamp stands in.

Gullie & Lottie Tarkinton
Gullie & Lottie Tarkinton

Circus Brothers update

I saw another CDV of what appears to be the same brothers, with similar outfits and different hairdos (probably a couple years older). This one is labeled “Willie & Freddie O’Brien”. I did a quick google search on their names and it turns out they were well-known circus performers, part of Barnum & Bailey’s circus, among others. A brief bio of their father (from Olympians of the Sawdust Circle):

O’BRIEN, FRED. (1848-April 28, 1881) Champion leaper. Native of Buffalo, NY. Lake’s, 1869; Dan Rice’s, 1870; Rice’s Paris Pavilion Circus, 1871-72; P. T. Barnum’s, 1872-73; John Wilson’s, San Francisco, January 1874; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; Great London, 1875-77; with wife and sons, Freddie and Willie, Orrin Bros.’, Havana, 1878. Wife was a slack wire artist and his 2 children performed on the trapeze. With P. T. Barnum’s, Madison Square Garden, 1881, was injured in a leaping double-somersault over a number of elephants. Died aboard the steamship England en route to Liverpool as a result of those injuries, age 33. Remains were buried at sea.

O’BRIEN, FRED, JR. Acrobat. The son of leaper Fred O’Brien. Three Melville’s & Co., 1889; general superintendent, Price & James, 1897; principal clown, Cooper & Co., 1897.

O’BRIEN, WILLIAM. Acrobat and leaper. Son of Fred O’Brien. Howes’ London, 1877; Cooper & Bailey, 1880; Howard Bros.’, 1888; Charles Andress’, 1888; Robinson-Franklin, 1897.