The General and Commodore of little people

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Here are two CDVs that were massed produced and widely collected much like sports cards are today.

General Tom Thumb was the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton (1838-1883), a dwarf who achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum. Stratton was 4 years old, the son of a Bridgeport, Connecticut carpenter, when Barnum met him. He was 25 inches tall and weighed just 15 pounds at the time. Barnum taught him to sing, dance and perform and made him an international celebrity with a tour of Europe. Stratton’s marriage in February, 1863, to another midget, Lavinia Warren, was front-page news. They stood atop a grand piano in New York City’s Grace Episcopal Church to greet some 2,000 guests.

Tom Thumb and his wife were received by many prominent heads of state, including Presidents Polk and Lincoln, Queen Victoria, and France’s Emperor Napoleon III.

In 1862, P. T. Barnum paid $30,000 to acquire a new performer, George Washington Morrison Nutt, twenty-nine inches tall, just as witty and talented as Tom Thumb, but younger. As he had for Thumb, Barnum developed costumes, songs, and jokes for his new star, awarding Nutt the rank of commodore. (Some even believed that Nutt was the real Tom Thumb, judging the older, portly midget an imposter.) In 1863, Nutt served as the best man at the widely publicized marriage of Tom Thumb to Lavinia Warren, and the wedding party (including Lavinia’s sister) performed together for several years.

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