Sunday, June 19, 2005



Any time Ricky Jay has a new book out is worth celebrating. Ricky's new book Extraordinary Exhibitions:The Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head, the Whimsiphusicon & Death to the Savage Unitarians (Broadsides From The Collection of Ricky Jay) is covered in yesterday's New York Times, which notes a few of the more unusual entries:

One wonders what Faustian bargain he'd strike for a trip to 1829 to watch Signor Cappelli, "The Inimitable Tuscan," induce his Learned Cats to "beat a drum, turn a spit, grind knives, strike upon an anvil, roast coffee, ring bells . . . with many other astonishing exercises." Or to catch a 1753 show by Duncan MacDonald, "The Scottish Equilibrist," who performed his celebrated slack-wire balancing act, Mr. Jay writes, "wearing a pair of large and cumbersome boots to which quart bottles were affixed, neck downward." Or for the chance to examine such technological sensations as Professor Faber's Wonderful Talking Machine of the 1840's, Mr. Haddock's lifelike Androides of the 1790's, or the 1872 Phantoscope projecting its ghostly "Carnival of Spirits."

Here's an example from his recent Yerba Buena exhibit of the handbill for the Wonderful Talking Machine....

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