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The 18th century enlightenment saw an increased awareness of science which contradicted previous superstition and folk belief, however despite the scientific discoveries a juxtaposition of the existence of the folk beliefs persisted. These folk beliefs could be entertained and thrilled in public spectacle by the existence of spirits seen in the Phantasmagoria shows, the scientific magic performed by natural philosophers, or the wonders of the physical universe and nature in travelling curiosity shows such as the exhibition of a real mermaid. This advertisement announces that the visitor will be presented to the ‘most wonderful curiosity in the world’. The increased exploration of unknown lands during the 18th and 19th century gave rise to reports of strange sightings of mermaid and merman by sailors and explorers, as late as 1822 a Captain Dodge sailed into Boston Harbor stating that he had captured a mermaid, and left her on an island where upon his return he would educate her in human ways.

Mermaid Exhibition !!! The ‘Feejee’ Mermaid 1843

  • Recreation of titlepages with added historical elements. Printed on watercolour paper with archival inks, and packaged in protective sheet. 5"x7"


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