A fannish blog dedicated to Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions, movies, games, game design, costuming, prop making, blogs, horror, steampunk, RPGs, Tintin, H. P. Lovecraft, Cthulhu, books, videos, and to CoastCon itself.
CoastCon is a SF & F convention that has been held annually in Biloxi, Mississippi each Spring for nearly 40 years.
The other day I was doing a little reading online about
classic sideshow exhibits
the most celebrated of the genre is the Fee Gee Mermaid of P. T. Barnum+ fame from
the 1840s.Over the years the Fiji
Mermaid idea resurfaced in traveling museums, curio shops, carnival sideshows,
roadside attractions, and at auctions.Most of the gaffs were composed of fish parts and other taxidermy items cobbled together to make a
mermaid for the rubes to gawk for a dime a shot.I won’t go into the history of the Fee Gee Mermaid as the links
in this post pretty much walk you through the background of these interesting biological fantasies.
So anyway, I stumbled upon a really interesting site called
the Taxidermy Emporium, which
is based in the UK.It has some of the
most interesting dead things I have seen for sale outside of a Victorian
curiosity shop.The photos of the
objects in question, in this case was a Fiji Mermaid gaff, which was worthy of a
A Fiji Mermaid gaff at Taxidermy Emporium
Ref PI 1040Sold
Another Fiji mermaid from the same sourceRef PI 902Sold
Sea Pixie from Taxidermy Emporium Ref PI 912
Before you get too excited about purchasing items from the Taxidermy Emporium my American readers, many of the offerings at
this site are absolutely illegal to import into the USA as most of them are of
endangered species.Well possibly
excluding the Fee Gee Mermaid gaffs, but there is no telling of what material
those items are made.There are
stringent import laws about the importation of objects made from endangered
species, far more than the expected aquatic mammal and elephant ivory items, we
generally hear about in news articles.
This classic gaff and variations has been posted a number of
times by well-known prop expert on his site Propnomicon, see below.Propnomicon has covered the prop scene for a
number of years now and features a number of tutorials on how to make
props.The fan community owes a big
debt of gratitude to Propnomicon for his daily posts about props and prop
making over the years.
The only other gaff that tickles me more than the Fee Gee
Mermaid is the classic roadside attraction, The
Thing, but that’s another story*.I
hope this post has been of interest and will stimulate the reader into looking
more deeply into historical gaffs and props of the 19th
Not all of the items at the Taxidermy Emporium are for
everybody as seen below.
These are called, “Well preserved British Bulldog puppies – Natural death” Ref – PI 984sold
+P. T. Barnum actually didn’t say, ‘There’s a sucker bornevery minute” it has been attributed to David Hanum a competitor in the trade,
who was commenting on Barnum making his own copy of the Cardiff Giant – a fake
of a fake.The real joke is that
Barnum’s fake made more money than the original fake.Now that’s ballyhoo.