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[Cabinet Card Photograph of Charles Tripp, "The Armless Wonder"] by  Charles B.; Bransby Cooper Pentz (photographer)] [Tripp - Signed First Edition - [1887] - from W. C. Baker Rare Books & Ephemera and Biblio.com

[Cabinet Card Photograph of Charles Tripp, "The Armless Wonder"]

by [Tripp, Charles B.; Bransby Cooper Pentz (photographer)]

Condition: Near fine


York, Pa.: Pentz, [1887]. First Edition. Photograph. Near fine. Cabinet card (albumen photographic print mounted on card), approximately 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches. Stamp of photographer and inscription and signature of subject on verso, in his foot. Light wear, near fine.

Cabinet card portrait of Charles Tripp, "The Armless Wonder," inscribed and signed by him, evidently during a tour in York, Pennsylvania, where the photograph was taken. Charles Broton Tripp (1855-1930) was one of the great human marvels of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born without arms, Tripp taught himself at a young age how to dress, eat, shave, write, and perform a variety of other tasks with his feet. He had become particularly noted for his calligraphy and woodworking skills when he left home for New York City at the age of 17 to seek employment with P. T. Barnum. Barnum immediately hired him, and Tripp would perform for the circuses of Barnum, Bailey, and the Ringling Brothers for the next 35 years and later for smaller carnivals. Throughout his career, Tripp inscribed and sold cabinet cards and postcards printed with his portrait, which typically shows him dressed in a fine suit and surrounded by instruments and products of his trade. The present photograph is a fine example, showing Tripp carving a piece of wood and exhibiting examples of his calligraphy and a paper doll he had created, presumably with the pair of shears lying in front of it. The portrait was made at the Pentz studio of York, Pennsylvania, and bears the following inscription in Tripp's foot: "Charles B. Tripp. Woodstock, Ontario Age 32 y's. William Kennedy July 30th 87." The cabinet card comes from the collection of the Johnny Fox (1953-2017), the celebrated American sword swallower, sleight-of-hand artist, and proprietor of the Freakatorium / El Museo Loco, the first dime museum to appear in New York since the closing of Hubert's Museum in 1969. Located in a Lower East Side storefront from 1999 to 2005, the Freakatorium housed a collection of oddities, relics, photographs, and ephemera largely relating to human anomalies and sideshow performers. During his performances, Fox often described his first childhood encounters with sideshow performers and adoption of them as his personal heroes. Charles Tripp was one of his favorite historical examples, and it is clear that Tripp's contemporaries had held him in similar esteem. A newspaper in Salisbury, North Carolina, where Tripp spent his winters, published a tribute upon his death that read in part, "He never let the words 'I can't' enter his vocabulary and the fine accomplishments and achievements despite handicaps should be a challenge to those of us who possess all our faculties. He was a real hero in every sense of the word and overcame odds in life that would have submerged many a man with less determination and spirit."


  • Bookseller: W. C. Baker Rare Books & Ephemera US (US)
  • Bookseller Inventory #: 720
  • Title: [Cabinet Card Photograph of Charles Tripp, "The Armless Wonder"]
  • Author: [Tripp, Charles B.; Bransby Cooper Pentz (photographer)]
  • Format/binding:Photograph
  • Book condition: Used - Near fine
  • Quantity available: 1
  • Edition: First Edition
  • Publisher: Pentz
  • Place: York, Pa.
  • Date published: [1887]
  • Keywords: Americana, Canadiana, Victoriana, performing arts, circus and allied arts, sideshow, freaks, dime museums, oddities, human anomalies, photography, antique photography, signed, inscribed
  • Bookseller catalogs: Oddities & Curiosities; Circus & Allied Arts; Photography;



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verso
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fine
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inscribed
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