General and Mrs. Tom Thumb (Charles S. Stratton)

Sixth-plate daguerreotype of Peter Cooper, American industrialist and politician

p4A ItemID E8981625
Sixth-plate ambrotype photograph of Tom Thumb's "fairy" carriage with miniature horses

p4A ItemID E8952637
Portraits of the Civil War Period from the collection of Frederick Hill Meserve, title page

p4A ItemID E8918259
An Alex Beckers patented rosewood case stereo viewer with peaked top and 75 stereo cards including Gen. Tom Thumb

p4A ItemID E8897596

General & Mrs Tom Thumb

The legendary Phineas T. Barnum was introduced to the diminutive Charles Stratton (1838 to 1883) in Bridgeport, Connecticut at the Franklin House, which his half-brother managed. From that point on Stratton was destined to become the toast of 19th century American as well as continental Europe. Stratton was granted audiences with Queen Victoria, more than one U.S. President and countless dignitaries. By mid-19th century he was truly the most sought after celebrity in the world. Barnum, alwasy the consummate promoter and showman, was quick to exploit the Tom Thumb phenomena and – with the help of his neighbor Matthew Brady – Tom Thumb’s face became readily recognized the world over. As a result of this celebrity, Stratton became a very wealthy man and contributed greatly to Barnum’s riches as well.

In 1862, Stratton was introduced to Mercy Lavinia Warren Bump, a 21 year old dwarf, at the home of P.T. Barnum. Charles instantly fell in love with Lavinia and the two were married in a media event the likes of which the world had never seen. The General and Mrs. Tom Thumb enjoyed celebrity status throughout their lives.

In addition to Stratton and Barnum, a legion of photographers profited greatly from the couple, making photographs, copies of photographs and thousands of cartes de visite for an insatiable public following the lives of this most unusual couple.


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