Feejee Mermaid: Comments
(most recent posts first)

In Newport Oregon is a Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum that contains "Barnums Fiji Mermaid" It looks just like the picture here on your site. I've listened in as people look at it, (And it's as ugly as you can guess) and about 1/2 of the people try to figure out how it was made and how people could believe it, the other half....they try to guess what it must have looked like how big it was etc....
Pam Pedigo, Portland Oregon
Thursday, October 30, 2003 at 14:56:30
Through my own investigations I came to the conclusion that the original Barnum Mermaid was not 3 feet or less but actually lifesized and was made from the upper torso of a dehaired female Orangutan that was expertly attached to the bottom half a walrus or large seal . This mermaid was built in Japan by a master taxidermist . Records of this mermaid should exist somewhere in Japan , as it was well known there having toured the country . The man who purchased this mermaid paid a small fortune to acquire it . Barnum later acquired it from this man.
Juan Cabana
Tuesday, August 19, 2003 at 08:29:11
Favorite hoax: the fiji mermaid or the woman who was claimed to be george washington's nursemaid. read about it in nick mag.
June 29, 2001
I'm not at all surprised to hear that the Feejee Mermaid may or may not be "the original"-- and it certainly raises some entertaining questions. Presumbaly the "real" Feejee Mermaid was an authentic fake-- but if so would this "fake" Feejee Mermaid then ALSO be an authentic fake? If it's a doubly authentic fake, is it then in some way *better* than the original?
Antoinette LaFarge, The Museum of Forgery
May 31, 2001
My understanding is that the original mermaid was destroyed when Barnum's American Museum caught fire at the end of the Civil War. I went to the Peabody Museum at Harvard to check out the feejee mermaid that they own, and they admitted that they're doubtful that their mermaid is the original one. Apparently A.H. Saxon, Barnum's biographer, did quite a bit of research trying to track down the real feejee mermaid, but wasn't successful. However, I like the irony of the debate over who owns the real feejee mermaid.

There's also a man who lives around Encinitas, CA who owns a Feejee Mermaid which he offers for display in the back of an antique store. It's a far cry from Barnum's feejee mermaid, but it's the only feejee mermaid that I know of in the San Diego/LA area.

Alex Boese
May 5, 2001
I was struck by your remark about the Feejee Mermaid, to the effect that the one in the Peabody is not the original. The caption to the Feejee Mermaid photo in Rosalind Purcell's "Special Cases" very strongly implies that it is the original. Interesting discrepancy.
Antoinette LaFarge, The Museum of Forgery
May 3, 2001
You may want to check with "the old curiosity shop" in Seattle WA. I recall seeing a similar version of the mermaid there.
July 28, 2000