On Show

[ Jérôme dans un pré, c1910 ]

Jerome in a meadow, c1910, Inconnu,

In the second half of the 19th Century, giants, bearded ladies, Siamese twins and others who didn’t fit the physical or cultural norm were curiosities that drew large crowds. American circus magnate P. T. Barnum made a fortune recruiting “curiosities of nature” from around the world and buying strange objects. In his museum of oddities in New York, he put exotic animals on show and exhibited hoaxes such as the corpse of a mermaid and a poor deformed African billed as the missing link. In 1862, Barnum also hired the young and beautiful Anna Swan, the “Giantess from Nova Scotia,” for $1000 a year.

In a world where every fair and circus had its curiosities, it is not surprising to learn that Jerome too was exhibited, though on a much smaller scale: on Sundays after mass, people from all over would go to the home of Dedier Comeau, where they could enter and look at Jerome in exchange for a few cents.

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