Preserved Mermaids

The American sea captain Samuel Barrett Eades displayed a preserved mermaid, consisting of the head of an orangutan, the jaws of a baboon, and the tail of a fish, at Covent Garden in London 1822. In 1846, P.T. Barnum exhibited the specimen, sometimes referred to as the Fiji or Feejee Mermaid, first in the United States and then London; Moses Kimball, founder of the Boston Museum, had purchased it from Eades’ son, and brought it to Barnum. Similar specimens were displayed throughout the nineteenth century. As of 2018, the British Museum collection included a preserved mermaid, acquired in 1942 (Bondeson) (Image: Figure of a Mermaid).