Extraordinary Exhibitions: The Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head, The Whimsiphusicon & Death to the Savage Unitarians (Broadsides from the Collection of Ricky Jay)

Overview

An informal history of sensational, scientific, silly, satisfying, and startling attractions based on seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century broadsides from Ricky Jay's extraordinary collection.
It includes observations on the convention of promoting such appearances, digressions on the manner and method of printing advertisements to do so, and insights into the psychology employed to that end. All are compiled in a monograph that is ...

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Overview

An informal history of sensational, scientific, silly, satisfying, and startling attractions based on seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century broadsides from Ricky Jay's extraordinary collection.
It includes observations on the convention of promoting such appearances, digressions on the manner and method of printing advertisements to do so, and insights into the psychology employed to that end. All are compiled in a monograph that is itself a shameless attempt to entertain and elucidate.
It is the contention of the author that neither the tongue of the most florid orator, nor pen of the most ingenious writer, can sufficiently describe the elegance, symmetry, and prodigious accomplishments of those who pass in review within these pages
Included are broadsides advertising: an armless dulcimer player, a ghost showman, a singing mouse, a chess-playing automaton, a cannon ball juggler, an African hermaphrodite, a chicken incubator, a rabbi with prodigious memory, a ventriloquist, a spirit medium, a glass blower, a woman magician, a speaking machine, a mermaid, a bullet catcher, a flea circus, and an equestrian bee keeper.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This oversize, richly illustrated and well-annotated book could emerge from none other than Jay-showman, card shark, actor, curator and wondrously quirky cultural presence. The author of Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women likes to collect showbills, those exuberant advertisements for singular, often questionable entertainers, and the ones presented here-in Italian, French, German and English-vividly depict the sideshow mentality with idiosyncratic graphics and "florid, orotund language." The collection parallels Jay's interest in both deception and unusual acts, beginning with the "Learned Horse" in Milan, circa 1618, which collected money and fetched wine, and ending with Cinquevalli, "King of the Jugglers," who dazzled 1898 Birkenhead, England, with his skill manipulating cannonballs and pool balls. In between,readers meet "the greatest German living," a 29-inch wonder; the equestrian apiarist who wore a "bee blindfold"; the now-notorious "Hottentot Venus"; the "giant Hungarian schoolboy" and many others. Jay's collection was first exhibited at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. As the center's chief curator says, the pieces stand up both as "historically worthy art and little time bombs of insight." Oh, and that Whimsiphusicon? It's a "theatrical neologism used to entice, or more likely confuse, the public." Indeed. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593720124
  • Publisher: Quantuck Lane Press
  • Publication date: 5/6/2005
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 13.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ricky Jay is one of the world's great sleight-of-hand artists and an expert on the world of fantastic entertainment. His award-winning one-man shows were directed by David Mamet, in whose many films Mr. Jay has appeared. He is author of New York Times Notable Books Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women, Jay's Journal of Anomalies,Extraordinary Exhibitions, and Dice: Deception, Fate & Rotten Luck with Rosamond Purcell. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2005

    A MUST-BUY!

    Ricky Jay is a national treasure. He's the head curator of a continuing collection of the curious, marginal, sometimes macabre but always compelling congregation of entertainers who have slipped through the trapdoor of time's stage. His newest masterpiece, Extraordinary Exhibitions, is a catalogue of broadsides heralding some of the strangest performers that ever graced an auditorium or a sidewalk. You'll meet Pietro Stadelmann, a seventeenth century armless dulcimer player. As well as the nameless 27 year-old Angolan 'Famous African Hermaphrodite'. And a South American trio whose huge excrescences extruding from their chins gave them their stage moniker 'The Monstrous Craws'. You can sit at the feet of Joice Heth, the 161 year-old former nursemaid of Little Georgie Washington, the marvelous showman P. T. Barnum's first client. There's singing mice, educated fleas and a Rabbi whose demonstrations of his prodigious memory were endorsed by the Pope himself. To paraphrase the immortal Charles Fort, you'll see a procession of the damned of showbiz. And thanks to the wonderful Mr. Jay, they'll walk (and bark, tumble, juggle, catch bullets, arm wrestle, rope dance and eat stones) again.

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