“sideshow by the seashore!”
The Fiji (a.k.a. the Feejee) mermaid was an object comprising the torso and head of a juvenile monkey sewn to the back half of a fish, covered in papier-mache. It was a common feature of sideshows which was presented as the mummified body of a creature that was supposedly half mammal and half fish, a version of traditional mermaid stories. The Fiji mermaid came into Barnum's possession via his Boston counterpart Moses Kimball, who brought it down to Barnum in late spring of 1842. On June 18, Barnum and Kimball entered into a written agreement to exploit this "curiosity supposed to be a mermaid." Kimball would remain the creature's sole owner and Barnum would lease it for $12.50 a week. Barnum christened his artifact "The Feejee Mermaid". In Barnum's exhibit, the creature was allegedly caught in 1842 by a "Dr. J. Griffin." Griffin was actually Levi Lyman, one of Barnum's close associates.
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P.T. Barnum's Feejee Mermaid
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