Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Wild Men of Borneo Pamphlet

This is a really rare pamphlet from the Barnum era featuring Waino and Plutano, the Wild Men of Borneo. Very few of these survived probably, because they were pamphlets which often get thrown away. Also, the paper quality was pretty low. So, finding this item was pretty exciting, to say the least.

Waino and Plutano would have sold this pamphlet at the sideshow as a way to supplement their income. Like other performers, they also sold cabinet cards and cdv's of themselves to make some extra cash.
Waino and Plutano were actually physically strong dwarf brothers, who suffered from mental disabilities.

Although they were born in the Connecticut, Barnum had a flair for telling tall tales to spice up the show, and as such, they were said to have been captured in Borneo.
The brothers were a very popular act in their day. I guess the public was amazed that such small people-- they were 40 inches tall and weighed 45 pounds-- could lift heavy weights (including audience members themselves) and wrestle "full-sized" people. During their 25 years with Barnum, the brothers earned $250,000. Not bad, eh?


  1. Wow, adjusted for inflation that like $6M!

    Ok, I don't feel sorry for them at all ;)

  2. Thanks for the stat! When they started closing down sideshows in the 20th Century, a lot of performers were really angry. In the sideshow, they not only could feel "normal" in the sense that they were financially self-sufficient, they also had a sense of community, because of their proximity to others similar to themselves. It was ironic, because the people who wanted to close them down thought they were protecting the performers from an evil, exploitative business.