Thursday, October 5, 2017

Did You Know . . .

. . . When Phineas T. Barnum opened his American Museum in New York in 1841, he hired the worst musicians he could find to play on the balcony above the front entrance.  His reasoning?  He thought people would pay to come inside, just to get away from the bad music!

 . . . It cost 25 cents for people to enter the museum and 15,000 of them came every day, six days a week.  That means in the 1840s, Barnum was earning more than $3700 every day ,more than $22,000/week!

. . . Barnum had a special sign installed in the Museum.  This Way to the Egress, it said.  Customers, eager to find out what an egress was, followed it and found themselves back outside.  They had to pay another 25 cents to get back into the museum!

. . . When Barnum got ready to exhibit his famous Feejee Mermaid, newspapers around the country received letters from eminent scientist praising the specimen as the most spectacular find in history.  Their praise helped make the Mermaid the most talked-about phenomenon of the day.  Little did people know that Barnum had written those letters himself and signed different names to each one of them!

 . . . "Smoke & Mirrors," the first Miss Barnum Mystery by Casey Daniels will be available in the US on November 1.  The story follows the adventures of Evie Barnum, PT's sister and his assistant at the museum.  And yes, Evie is fictional.  As much a humbug as the Feejee Mermaid!


  1. Smoke and Mirrors sounds like a great book. I look forward to reading it!

  2. I have a particular fondness for Barnum and his empire, since (1) my parents took me to the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circus each for the first decade of my life, and (2) he orchestrated the marriage between Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren (actually her real surname was Bump)--Lavinia was born and raised in the town I now live in, and the house she and Tom built is still standing, though not open to the public. I like to imagine Barnum stopping by to visit. This book should be an interesting read.