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  • 1876 Broadside for the 9th and Arch Museum formerly Colonel Wood's Oddity Museum

    $350.00
    There is only 1 item left in stock.

    Framed 1876 Broadside for the 9th and Arch Museum formerly Colonel Wood's Oddity Museum - Advertising The Wonders of the 19th Century.  Featuring Lucia Zarate and Gen. Mite. Frame measures 32 3/4"h x 14 1/2w.  Has a few water stains and a piece of the paper is missing from the "M" in Mite.  A really unique piece of 19th century entertainment.   

    Lucia Zarate stands as the most well-known small person in the annals of littleness.  Not since the reign of the Sicilian Fairy, Caroline Crachami, in the 1820's had there been anyone exhibited so tiny and yet so well-proportioned.

    Lucia's early childhood is shrouded in mystery. Some say she was born in San Carlos in Northern Mexico. Others, that she hailed from Vera Cruz, which is along the Gulf of Mexico. 

    She was first brought to the United States in 1876 and was exhibited straightaway in various venues all leading up to her big debut in Philadelphia at the Centennial Exposition, held in celebration of that Nation's first 100 years of Independence. 

    As was the custom with showmen who exhibited midgets, she was promoted as being older than her years - in her case twelve. Hence, to this day, many biographers believe she was born in 1864. However, she was consistently said to be a year older than her exhibition companion, General Mite, who we know was born in 1872.  Thus it is believed she was actually born closer to 1870 making her only about 6 yrs old at the start of her brief thirteen-year career. 

    Lucia then stood about 51cm high, which would be below the knee level of an average-sized American man! It is true that over the years her stature increased but it is probably safe to say that she never exceeded 66cm. in height.

    General Mite - Francis Flynn was born in Greene, New York on October 6th, 1864 to Edward Flynn and Mary Ann (Casey) Flynn. Francis's highly unusual stature was apparent quickly, as he never grew much after his birth. By the age of 4 he was already a noted celebrity at 23" and 12 pounds. He was exhibited at various locations around New York State. His career as a showman began in earnest at the age of 8 when he traveled to England with P.T. Barnum. 

    He "married" another little person at the age of 12 (though his entourage claimed he was much older) in Manchester, a publicity stunt which nevertheless resulted in a life-long companionship with Millie Edwards. "General Mite" is still considered one of the smallest human beings ever documented. His adult height was 27" and his weight around 12 pounds. He presented a stage show in which he rode a bicycle, sang, dressed in various costumes, and told jokes. By all accounts he was a lively, talkative, sparkly little fellow who was a consummate showman. He worked with another famous little person, Lucia Zarate, briefly joined the Liliputian Opera Company, and toured with his wife Millie. He met the Queen of England and many other dignitaries. 

    Francis traveled to Australia in 1890. By then, the enthusiasm for General Mite's type of show had waned in the US and Australia was a common destination for circuses and sideshows. He and Millie toured all around that country. In October of 1898 General Mite presented his show in Broken Hill, Australia, a small but vibrant mining town in the Australian outback. He died there on October 5 at the age of 25.

    Admission cost a dime at the 9th and Arch Museum. Indeed, dimes ruled the for-profit world of Victorian-era museums.  But in the end neither the entertainment, nor the dimes, were enough.

    For more than half a century, the corner of 9th and Arch sustained Philadelphians with opportunities for diversion, education and voyeurism. The public came and went—and so did the owners. First was Colonel Joseph Wood, fresh in town having been burnt out of his Chicago emporium. The Colonel opened the doors on a relatively simple affair: menagerie plus performance space. By 1883, the venue re-launched under the new ownership. Hagar, Campbell & Co. Dime Museum advertised “Entertainment Designed Expressly for Ladies and Children,” and claimed they had the “only great show in town.” It featured everything from “Barnum’s Original Aztecs,” the “Che-Mah Chinese Dwarf,” the “Cannibal Fan Child,” the “Living Skeleton” and “the “White Moor.” Hagar and Campbell piled on the attractions, adding “Dens of Serpents,” “the Merry Monkeys” and Punch and Judy, Johnson’s Original Tennessee Jubilee Singers, and “a multitude of other attractions.”

    Even so, audience demands, and museum costs, proved too high. The Dime Museum soon changed hands again. This time, Charles A. Bradenbaugh re-invented the destination as the “9th and Arch Museum.” And this time, place and the public connected. Bradenbaugh kept the audiences coming from 1885 to 1910.

    On the first floor, there were numerous forms of apparatus for testing grips, lungs, lifting power, etc.  On the second floor were cages of monkeys, a prairie dog ‘Village,’ and a few other menagerie specimens.  The third floor provided a lecture hall packed with a series of platforms, with living “human freaks.” Regulars came to know “The Skeleton Man,” “The Fat Woman,” the “Real Zulus,” “The Human Bat,” “The Bearded Lady,” “The Elastic-Skin Man,” “The Glass Eater,” and “The Dog-Faced Boy.” Every hour, the gawking public would be invited back down to the main auditorium where they’d sit for a popular play that, no matter the length of the original, was condensed into forty minutes, give or take.


    Inventory Number: DOC 087