men_in_full: (virtruvian man)
[livejournal.com profile] mudcub alerted me to Sideshow World's page on Fat Folks. Throughout the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, people with all sorts of physical challenges and differences earned their livings as sideshow entertainers in the traveling fairs and circuses which criss-crossed Europe and the United States. Their numbers included the "fat folk," men and women far larger than the average of their day.

One profitable income-enhancer for sideshow entertainers was to sell small, post-card sized "cabinet cards" with their own images. Visitors could buy these cards as they exited the tents, sometimes signed by the performers. These marketing tools served as souvenirs and free publicity. Many survive today, and these numerous cards open a small window into the ways in which entertainers chose to present themselves.

One thing which appeals to me about late 19th/early 20th century cabinet cards is how dignified the men look.




Circus fat man Egon Cannon and his brother.

More, including some NSFW )

men_in_full: (discovery channel 101)
Charles Eisenmann and his protege Frank Wendt were "Gilded Age" (1870s through 1890s) photographers who made many images of sideshow and circus entertainers. Many were used as "cabinet photographs," small cards (often signed by the performer) which were sold as mementos and used for publicity.





John Robinson, by Charles Eisenmann


More Eisenmann portraits of fat men, SFW )

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