Sunday, 5 September 2010

Curiosities

Now here's something that wouldn't be out of place in Evenyule Scrabsnitch's EMPORIUM OF ARCHAIC ANTIQUITIES.



Apparently it's a mermaid. I encountered it at Hartlepool Museum. In Mortlock, Scrabsnitch is not above stitching together bits of deceased animal to make 'curiosities' that will draw the punters in and here is a real life example. The mummified remains of a monkey were stitched to the body of a fish to make the mermaid.




In the 1850s, people paid good money to see things like this. Many folks didn't travel beyond the boundaries of their own parish and anything like this, rather hideous but strangely interesting would have been a real draw. Even now, although it was one exhibit in a whole cabinet full of interesting artefacts, this one sticks in my mind. Maybe I should get out more often!

2 comments:

Rainbow Chaser said...

Very interesting and very curious exhibit. Of course, Hartlepool is famous for the monkey hanging incident dating back to the Napoleonic wars. The only survivor from a French ship caught in a storm was the ship's pet monkey that had been dressed in military uniform as amusement. The story goes that the locals, after questioning the monkey and getting no sense, hung the poor creature as a French spy.

Jon M said...

Ah yes, I debated mentioning the monkey hanging incident. There's a bit about it in the museum, saying it's unlikely to have happened but was attributed to the popularity of a music hall song early last century. But who knows?