[Ads-l] antedating flea circus

Bill Mullins amcombill at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 11 18:37:33 EST 2021

Am I misunderstanding?  I don't see "flea circus" in your quote from the Alexandria Gazette.   

And I don't understand (as yet) the relationship between Bartoletti and Bertolotto and other similar names.  (but I know that it wouldn't have been unusual for an 1859 showman to adopt the same or similar name of a person who was doing the same act a quarter century earlier).

And Peter, if you are researching flea circuses, then you need to see the issue of Ricky Jay's "Jay's Journal of Anomalies" on the subject.  It was collected (with addenda) in his book of that name.  If you want, I can send it offline.

is what piqued my interest in the subject today.

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Peter Reitan [pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2021 3:51 PM
Subject:  Re: antedating flea circus


"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 - Caution-http://www.americandialect.org

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

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