New Arrival

Siamese Twins. For [1] Day only. The United Brothers, Chang-Eng.

New York: J. M. Elliott, Printer, [ca. 1838].

Price: $1,600.00

About the item

Printed broadside, woodcut illustration at top, within an ornamental border. Partially accomplished in manuscript. 12-1/2 x 7-5/8 inches. Ricky Jay, Exemplars, p. 228.

Item #366719

A rare promotional broadside for Chang & Eng, the original "Siamese Twins" who became a cultural phenomenon in the United States, England, and Europe in the 1830s. The broadside is undated and has blank spaces filled in with the date and duration of their appearance, the city and the venue, and the hours during which they would receive the curious. The woodcut illustration of the twins shows them at a relatively young age, and in dress and scenery invoking their native Siam. The illustration shows the brothers wearing "exotic" clothes and headdress. The fleshy band that connected them at the torso is plainly evident.

It is significant that the broadside appeals to "ladies and gentlemen," as the promoters of the Siamese Twins were eager to assure visitors - especially women - that their sensibilities would not be shocked by viewing the pair. The illustration of the twins therefore serves a double purpose - in piquing the interest of potential viewers, and assuring them of the propriety of the event. It is advertised that "Pamphlets, containing an historical account of the Twins" would be available for sale at the show, as well as engraved and lithographic likenesses. Admission was fifty cents, and there was "no re-admission to the room."

This broadside was likely printed toward the end of the twins' 1829-1839 first major set of tours. As the American Antiquarian Society catalogue notes, the printer, J. M. Elliott, is listed in New York directories at the address printed on the broadside (33 Liberty Street, New York) from 1838 to 1845 and issued lithographs of the twins in 1837 and 1839. This broadside is one of the last depictions of the twins in exotic costume.