Extraordinary Exhibitions
by Ricky Jay
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ISBN Number: 1593720122
Number of Pages:
Publication Date:
April 2005
The Quantuck Lane Press

If you know Ricky Jay at all, you will know his abiding passion for the wonderful characters that have graced the stage, the fairgrounds, the lecture halls, the museums, the taverns, the streets - indeed any venue that featured or sustained the exploits of modern ingenuity.

This is 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, or 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 incubating machine, 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, & an equestrian bee keeper.

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