Item #8064 “Chang” and “Eng” The World Renowned United Siamese Twins.

Sign up to receive email notices of recent acquisitions.

“Chang” and “Eng” The World Renowned United Siamese Twins.

Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St., New York, 1860. Lithograph, 9.375” x 14.25” plus margins. CONDITION: Good+, some foxing and a few small rust marks.

A richly illustrated lithographic advertisement for Chang and Eng’s late-career performance in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum.

A sensation across the U.S. and Europe during the 1830s, Chang and Eng were born co-joined at the sternum in Siam (present-day Thailand) in 1811. The twins were “discovered” at a young age by a British merchant who, with the permission of their mother, contracted them for a five-year tour overseas. Departing from Siam with the merchant and a U.S. sea captain in 1829, the brothers arrived in America at the age of seventeen and began a career of exhibition and performance, establishing their reputation as the Siamese Twins, hence the coining of that term. Chang and Eng’s stage-act consisted of routines incorporating music, dance, and acrobatics, After touring both in America and abroad and achieving financial success, the brothers retired in 1839 and purchased an estate in North Carolina, adopted the surname Bunker, wedded two sisters, and raised twenty-one children between the two couples. The fleshy band connecting them at the stomach is here quite plainly visible.

This formal portrait of Chang and Eng, published by Currier & Ives as number seventeen in their series of “Barnum’s Gallery of Wonders,” is surrounded by nine vignettes showing the twins engaged in various activities—rowing a boat, riding in a carriage, fishing, shooting, plowing, chopping down a tree, and playing a duet on the flute and violin. The vignettes bordering their torsos each portray a woman and two young children, presumably their wives Adelaide and Sarah and their children. Although Chang and Eng had grown wealthy from their early tours and had been permanently settled in North Carolina since about 1840, their increasing families occasionally prompted them to go back on tour. In 1860—when their conjoined state gained still greater powers of attraction as a metaphor for the increasingly divided Nation—they briefly contracted with Barnum to perform in his American Museum in New York, but declined a national tour.

A dignified and multifaceted portrait of Chang and Eng, published on the eve of the Civil War.

REFERENCES: “Chang and Eng Bunker (1811–1847),” The Embryo Project Encyclopedia online.

Item #8064

Price: $1,750.00

See all items in Prints & Drawings