Own some amazing pieces of sideshow history from the collection of sword swallower Johnny Fox.
An amazing assemblage of circus sideshow artifacts and memorabilia is hitting the auction block this Saturday at Potter & Potter in Chicago. The collection belonged to sword swallower and magician Johnny Fox, known as the King of Swords, who died in 2017. The items range from cabinet cards, sideshow banners, circus posters, and gaffs like a Fiji Mermaid and furry trout to vintage taxidermy, skulls, and numerous other oddities. Fox displayed his curiosities in his Freakatorium, El Museum Loco, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side from 1999 to 2005.
Everything from the museum will be up for auction except a glass eye that supposedly belonged to Sammy Davis Jr., which had been on loan.
Alive! On the Inside! Potter & Potter is pleased to present the over-the-top, one-of-a-kind Barnumesque collection of renowned sword swallower, comedian, magician, and curiosity seeker Johnny Fox.
Expect a sale like no other, populated with sideshow banners (Fred Johnson, Snap Wyatt, Siegler and Meah), tribal art and artifacts, furry mink fish (very rare), magic tricks, swords for swallowing, and oh, so much more!
Fox amassed an amazing assortment of natural and unnatural curiosities which he displayed at The Freakatorium, “El Museo Loco,” a singular establishment he operated on the lower east side of Manhattan from 1999 – 2005. The entire contents of the collection will go on the block, from Johnny Eck memorabilia to circus posters, sideshow gaffs, Fiji mermaids, and even the disembodied wax head of Mao Zedong. This is one sale without comparison, filled with a thousand things you never knew existed – or that you wanted.
Here are some of the amazing and bizarre things from the catalog:
Sideshow banner by Fred Johnson depicting an electric chair illusion c.1950
Sideshow performer CDVs
Spidora sideshow banner by Mark Frierson
The Walter L. Main Circus train wreck in Tyrone, Penn., 1893
Clothing and other items owned by P.T. Barnum performers Tom Thumb and his wife Lavinia
Adelaide Herrmann’s Electrocution Illusion c.1910
Life size plaster cast of Lobster Boy Grady Stiles’ hand
CDV of Isaac Sprague, the Skeleton Man c.1870s
Mysterious devil fish, also known as Jenny Hanivers
Betty Broadbent, Youngest Tattooed Lady, had 565 tattoos. Photo c.1928
Oil painting depicting Saint Agatha of Sicily having her breasts cut off
Mid-twentieth century painted silk Odd Fellows banner
French mourning hair grave display, 1888
The mummy of Ramses II photograph c.1880s
Chupacabra diorama made by Mark Frierson
Sideshow banners by Snap Wyatt c.1950
A brank scold bridle used to prevent women from gossiping and being a public nuisance
Sharpshooting/trick shot artists c.1900s
Life size sacrificial lamb prop, Valley of Milwaukee, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Wisconsin
Vintage shrunken heads from South America
Kar-Mi buried alive lithograph, 1914
Charles B. Tripp Armless Wonder cabinet card c.1887
Sideshow performer Laloo and his parasitic twin c.1880s
Baculum (penis bone) of a cave bear
B.F. Gleason embalmer’s cooling table c.1886
Bearded Lady Annie Jones c.1890
Four-pronged cannibal fork from Fiji
Atlantica banner for a Girl in Fishbowl sideshow illusion
Contortionist in a bizarre costume c.1940s
Early twentieth century felt-covered wood coffin, Valley of Milwaukee, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Wisconsin
Chastity belt with vicious face to ward off potential sexual activity
Mummified “walled cat” named Fluffy, found in the wall of an old building in New York
Tibetan kapala skull
Magic tricks and sideshow illusions
Bezoar stone extracted from the intestinal tract of Wexy, the war horse of Prince William of Orange, 1815
Tibetan llama bone necromancer hat
Miniature flintlock pistol with ivory grip, early twentieth century
Erotic optical illusion cabinet card c.1900s
Manfish sideshow gaff created by Mark Frierson
Jerry Pope naval tattoo art c.1940s
Adam and Eve vaudeville pamphlet c.1920s
Mourning portrait of Lisette Weber with hair and straw, Germany, c.1886
Antique silver poison rings, early 1900s
Pre-Columbian human skull with seashell discs covering eyes from Oaxaca, Mexico believed to be part of the Zapotech culture
Victorian taxidermy bird diorama
Reliquary from Genoa, Italy containing the bone fragment relics of 7 saints, 1763
Zoma the Cannibal sideshow banner c.1930
See more in the Freakatorium auction catalog.
The auction is happening Saturday, November 10th at 10am.
h/t Weird Historian