[Ads-l] antedating flea circus

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 11 16:51:28 EST 2021

"Flea circus" is among the long list of things I've done some research 
on, but haven't written anything.

I've seen "flea circus" from earlier in the same month.

Alexdandria Gazette, January 3, 1859, page 2.

[Excerpt] We learn from the New York Day Book, that a Professor 
Bartoletti in that city has caught and tamed some sixty fleas. He was 
six or seven months employed in training them for public performances, 
but has succeeded even beyond his own expectations. [End Excerpt]

Google books shows something entitled, Signor Bertolotto's Extraordinary 
Exhibition of the indundustrious Fleas from Regent Street, London, E. & 
J. Thomas, Printers, 1835.

But it does not provide an image, so there is no way to evaluate whether 
it was misdated or not.

Apparently he was exhibiting fleas in England as early as 1832 - 
although not by the name flea circus.

An advertisement for his act from the BNA Newspaper Archives.

Queen Street, Oxford, October 6, 1832, page 2.  "Extraordinary 
Exhibition! The Industrious Fleas!!! (from London.) Star Inn, Corn 
Market." with a long description of his display, which includes a Man of 
War drawn by a single flea, a flea chained to a gold ball, fleas with 
saddles, bridles and ridden by Wellington and Buonaparte.

------ Original Message ------
From: "Bill Mullins" <amcombill at hotmail.com>
To: ADS-L at listserv.uga.edu
Sent: 2/11/2021 1:35:08 PM
Subject: antedating flea circus

>---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Bill Mullins <amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM>
>Subject:      antedating flea circus
>OED has 1928.=0A=
>1859 _Daily Milwaukee News_ 23 Jan 2/1 newspapers.com=0A=
>"We will take occasion, en passant, to ask of the many abolitionists who ha=
>ve doubtless attended Bartoletti's flea circus, whether they think that if =
>these tamed fleas were left to run at large they would retain their educati=
>on, keep to their sword exercise, their music and their dancing, and also i=
>nstruct wild fleas in the civilized arts which they have acquired?"=0A=
>Bartoletti was exhibiting his "Industrious Fleas" as early as 1832 in Londo=
>The Milwaukee paper says this is reprinted from New Orleans _Louisiana Cour=
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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