Articles About Trade Cards
Tom Thumb Trade Cards


by Ben Crane


Shown below are thumbnail images (at 25 percent of actual size) of 7 trade cards and 4 cartes de viste having Tom Thumb as their main subject. Click on a thumbnail for a larger view, and click here for more about Tom Thumb.


 1 - Appearing Before the Crowned Heads of Europe



    2 - Gen'l Tom Thumb's Museum








 3 - Cartes de Viste







Tom Thumb was born as Charles S. Stratton in Bridgeport, CT, 1838. He stopped growing at age seven months when he was 25 inches tall and weighed 15 pounds. When he was four years old, P. T. Barnum heard of him and arranged to take him to New York City where he was introduced to the public as an 11-year old General Tom Thumb who had just arrived from Europe.

Under Barnum's tutelage and promotion, Tom soon became an international star, appearing before the heads of state of many countries. Women in particular were drawn to him.

In 1862 Barnum discovered Lavinia Warren Bump, a perfectly proportioned 21-year-old woman who was 31 inches tall. She joined Barnum's organization and, not long after, Tom proposed to her. They were married on February 10, 1863, in one of the most important social events of the New York City season, with over 2,000 guests attending their reception.

The following year Tom and Lavinia toured England and Europe for three years, and in 1869 they began a three-year tour of the world, appearing 1,471 times in 587 different cities around the world.

In 1881, they rejoined Barnum and narrowly escaped death in a Milwaukee hotel fire. Tom never quite recovered from the incident and died on July 15, 1881.

The trade card in Set 1 depicts Tom and Lavinia's appearing before European royalty during their world tour, and was probably issued during the late 1870s when they toured the US, managed by H. R. Jacobs and accompanied by the entertainers listed on the card's reverse. There are probably more cards in this set.

The six trade cards in Set 2 advertise Gen'l Tom Thumb's Museum, and were printed by Ballin & Liebler Lith. 68-78 Park Place, New York. They were probably issued to advertise the same tour as card 1.1 because, except for Whiston, they feature the same entertainers. Advertising on the reverse of these cards (see Card 2.6R) lists three different US appearances. This set is thought to be complete.

CDV 3.1 in Set 3 shows Tom and Lavinia on their wedding day in 1863. CDV 3.2 shows one of Barnum's famous hoaxes. Tom and Lavinia never had a child of their own but, to stimulate public interest, they would appear with a baby represented by Barnum as theirs. The first such baby was an orphan acquired by Barnum, and when he grew larger than Lavinia he was replaced by a succesion of native babies who were rented to perform with the couple in each country they visited. CDV 3.3 shows Tom, Lavinia, Commodore Nutt, and Minnie Warren (Lavinia's sister) as they appeared before Emperor Napoleon and Empress Eugenie in 1864. Facsimilies of their autographs are shown on the reverse, together with the mark of E. & H. T. Anthony who produced many of the Tom Thumb CDVs.

"P. T. Barnum" by P. B. Kunhardt, Jr., P. B. Kunhardt III, and P. W. Kunhardt was the source of the above information, and is a fascinating biography of the man who has been called America's Greatest Showman.

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