A 200-year-old book featuring illustrations of an Irish Giant and a Hairy Girl among “freaks, swindlers, murderers and eccentrics” of the 19th century, will be sold at auction for $645 (£400).
“The New Wonderful Museum and Extraordinary Magazine” is complete with listings of all the “wonders, curiosities and rarities of nature,” known in Georgian times as a “freak show.” The book is filled with a variety of photos and descriptions of society’s outcasts.
Patrick O’Brien, known as “The Irish Giant”, measured 8 feet 1 inches in height and is described as the “Wonderful Irish Man.”
O’Brien, whose full name was Patrick Cotter O’Brien, was born in 1760 and died in September 1806.
He was believed to be the first of only 16 people in medical history to stand at a verified height of eight feet (243.8 cm) or more.
O'Brien was born in Kinsale, County Cork. His real name was Patrick Cotter and he adopted O'Brien as his stage name in the sideshow circuit. He was also known as the “Bristol Giant” and “The Irish Giant”.
It is believed that he died from the effects of the disease gigantism.
In 1972, his remains were examined and it was determined that, while alive, he stood at approximately 8 feet 1 inches (246 cm.) tall. This made him the tallest person ever at that time.
Justin Phillips, a specialist in manuscripts at London auctioneers Bloomsbury, told the Daily Mail: “People loved that sort of thing back then.
“It was all folklore to them and anything that was published, particularly pictures of these people, that made it more real was lapped up.
“It is not very PC now, but the book poked fun at some curious people such as the fastest man in England and the Hairy Girl.
“Equally, in the 19th century people were fascinated with true crime, especially murder, and were attracted to books that contained all the grisly details.”
Also illustrated is the “Hairy Girl”, drawn with patches of hair all over her body. The book states that the girl was “exhibited in many parts of Europe.”
“Peter the Wild Boy” is immortalized in the book and described as a man who walked on all-fours, ate gravel and leaves, and was “found in a wood in Hanover and brought to England by King George II where he lived for many years.”
The book also contains descriptions of notorious murderers and descriptions of their bloody crimes.
The six volumes, compiled by William Granger, are being sold by a private book collector in London.
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