The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Tom Thumb and family

Tom Thumb and family

A carte-de-visite portrait of the international celebrity General Tom Thumb (1838-1883). Born Charles Sherwood Stratton, the son of a Connecticut carpenter, he was four years old and 25 inches tall (his final height reached 33 inches) when he was discovered by the showman PT Barnum, who taught him to sing and dance. He toured the world and became one of Barnum’s star attractions. His marriage in 1863 to another ‘midget,' Lavinia Warren, was front-page news.

Tom Thumb died of an apoplectic stroke on his estate in Bridgeport in 1883. He was buried in Bridgeport, where there is a monument to his memory. After his death, it was found that his considerable earnings had been all but completely squandered.

He is seen here with his wife, Lavinia Warren, and ‘their’ baby. In fact, the genuine Stratton child wasn’t considered photogenic enough for commercial portraiture so another baby had to be borrowed for the occasion. Their real child, a daughter, died in early infancy.

Photographer unidentified.


Code: 126655
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© Paul Frecker 2018