Monday, 15 October 2012

Heinrich Künstler - Nürenberg

Last week I was chatting on the emails with Janus Clausen, Curator of the Cirkusmuseet in Denmark. He advised me of a new name for flea circus history, "German Mecanicus called Heinrich Künstler from Sachsen". I quickly found in google books the following newspaper article.

Nurnberger Zeitung 121 from Montag 1 Mai 1843

Transalation thanks to Justin


With authoritarian permission

Heinrich Kuenstler from Saxony arrived here on his journey with a unique curiosity that has never been seen before.

He'll be in town for a few days to present it to a honorable audience for their viewing pleasure in the "Guesthouse under Moonshine" in the Gostenhof, No. 11, one stairway up.

You'll see:

An extraordinary cabinet that consists of 160 trained fleas.

Among many shows these will also be performed:

1.) An English touring car pulled by 6 fleas.

2.) A Russian chaise pulled by 2 fleas.

3.) Two fleas pulling a barrel.

4.) One flea pulling an Italian chaise.

5.) A flea fires a cannon as a cannoneer at last. Additionally it is shown that the fleas are lying in silver chains.

The cost of entry is 12 fr., children pay half.

The fleas can be seen daily from 10-12 before noon and 2-7 in the afternoon.

If somebody doesn't find everything as advertised he'll get his entrance fee back.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

3 day festival of circus in Israel

Next week sees a festival of circus in Israel. Modi'in near Jerusalem is host to three days of circus fun and entertainment.

Kirkas Minimax will be performing with tricks such as a high jump, tightrope and trebuchet.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Curious Pursuits

The flea chariot made it safely up to Manchester in time for the opening night of the Curious Pursuits exhibition by Porter and Jenkinson set in the delightful Portico Library and Gallery.

The exhibition runs till the end of February at The Portico Library & Gallery, 55 Mosley St, Manchester, Greater Manchester M2 3HY, UK

Photos by Keith Clark

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Bertolotto rival in Kassel

From the "The Bavarian People's Friend,Volume 17, 1840" and "La Fame" - Journal of science, literature, arts,. industry and theaters 1840.

Bertolotto, the flea tamer has found a rival in Kassel. Hr. Fiarenzi from Genoa announced, that he had trained "ants", taught them to march in rank and file, to climb scaling ladders and conquer a fortress, which was built of sugar; also, they were, on word of command’ able to retreat before the heat of a fire, while saving oats, crumbs of bread and small cut off pieces of cheese, with the result that they looked, in this way, like people who salvaged their belongings "under their arms" from the fire;

People still say that the present century had produced no great men: Bertolotto and Fiarenzi eclipse the finest intellects of all time.

Translation assistance from Google and from JohnThePotter

Friday, 20 January 2012

Miniatures night @ExploreWellcome

Yesterday was a late night event at the Wellcome Collection. On arrival I was greeted by a large crowd of people listening to the Hot Potato Syncopators ukulele band who were having a great time. I collected a programme which itself was a miniature 3inches tall.

I headed into the basement to get tickets for the talks by Author Steven Connor and Psychiatrist Isobel Heyman but despite the ticket office only opening 5 minutes before, all the tickets were gone. So I headed up the the first floor where most of the events were happening. The first floor of the Wellcome Collection houses their medical exhibits so the event was intermingled with giant sculptures of bodies, wierd bottles and masses of books. One exhibit was a mechanical eye that opened when you walked close to it (one for Poter and Jenkinson)

Over in the Forum area the people from Pestival had done an excellent job of creating a sideshow atmosphere. The first stall I visited was hosted by the entomologist and flea expert Amoret Whitaker. She'd brought some dressed fleas along from deep in the archives of the Natural History museum and we got to look at them under a microscope.

Further around the room was Tim Cockerill he'd brought along his collection of flea items including some impressive chariots, more pulgas vestidas (dressed fleas) and many pamphlets, postcards and showbills from around the world.

Tim had also filmed a short clip for the event telling you about flea circuses

The first showing for the flea circus was packed out. Whilst I was waiting I took the opportunity to sketch up some designs for an improved flea chariot based on what I'd seen. I left it on the wall of thoughts so that others might take inspiration.

The nanotechnolgy did not interest me that much so I visited the Medicine Man room which hosted some Bonsai and Zoe Hughes who was painting names of grains of rice. The Medicine Man collection is a permenant exhibit with some strange items such as a shrunken head. There was obviously a law put in place for importing shrunken heads at some point as the label made very clear that it had been brought into the country some time back.

I got to see second performance of the flying starts flea circus. Before the show I had a chat and looked at their flea circus hall of fame, classic moments from flea history such as Vivaldi and the four flea sons and a member of the Fleamasons.

The flea show was excellent, a wide range of acts from around the globe all performed in an entertaining style. One of the trainee fleas had a bit of an accident with his trick and one of the props went up in flames but thanks the Mama Mia and her fire engine it was all put out without any issue. The audience loved the show and afterwards I bumped into a new flea trainer who was quizzing Michael for techniques for building props.

All in all an excellent evening, to finish things off I had to exit via the gift shop, there was a wide range of gifts and books including some on miniatures which I though was good, although it could have been a co-incidence.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

More Events - A flea talk

It must be a popular month for flea related events, as well as the miniatures event at the Wellcome Collection, Tim Cockerill will be at the Natural History Museum on the afternoon of the 19th Jan to give a talk on Flea Circuses. Some of the secrets of how it is done, how circus 'professors' fed their fleas and the flea effects on Victoria ladies wil be shared.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Kickstart Stufenfedder's Fleas

Richard Mann is looking for backers for his flea theatre project in Chicago, IL My Life Infested with Fleas

Thursday, 5 January 2012


A couple of new events coming up. On 18th January the Wellcome Collection is running a miniatures evening, there will be talks about miniatures and collections and the fine line between collecting and hoarding. Free entertainment will be provided by nanotechnologists, bonsai experts and a flea circus from the flying starts
In Feb the Art Historian Collective Porter and Jenkinson are running an exhibition called "Curious Pursuits" at The Portico Library and Gallery in Manchester. There will be a preview evening Thu, 2 February, 18:00 – 20:00 and then the exhibition will run from 3 – 29 Feb 2012.