Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sideshow Finland



Pony Riding 1834

Physika 1859

Piccolomini 1831

Gymnastics 1845

Hydo Oxygen Gas Mikroskop

more tumbling 1844

Tumbling yet again 1845

carriage 1834

Dog Acts 1857

Giant 1860

Fantasmagori 1859

Beasts woodcut 1835

[click to enlarge]

Loci points out the digital collections of the Finland-Sweden University Library [Åbo Akademis Bibliotek Åbo Akademi University {wikipedia}] in Turku, Finland (the site is in swedish but hosted in Finland : I guess that's fair).

The images above come from the section entitled 'Offentliga nöjen i Åbo på 1800-talet- en samling affischer'. They have numerous sideshow/circus/magic/charlatan-esque handbills and ephemera relating predominantly, as far as I can tell, to the local Åbo theatre from between 1830 and 1860. The print quality is obviously cheap, but that quaintly humorous era of stage carnival and visual theatrics comes through loud and clear, irrespective of any translational hurdles. Actually, I think the language disimiliarities are an additive twist.

And speaking of ye olde Victorian era, but not so much at the fringes, things links to a complete 1867 Harper's Bazar magazine.


Screen Hub said...

In the west of Finland, like Turku, they speak Swedish.

I just happened to know that, and I do love to parade my learning.

- barista

Anonymous said...

What a curious collection of curious images. It's intersting that these posters lack a certain zazz that American circuses and shows had in their posters. Not that these posters are quiet, but from the imagery, they don't scream the attraction

Marty (

Supertyhmä said...

Well, the vast majority of people in Turku, and Finland in general, do speak Finnish. The Swedish-speaking Finns ("finlandssvensk", 4-5% of the population) are, however, an important minority and for historical reasons, Swedish is the second official language in Finland. It's compulsory in schools, too. Actually, the political and cultural elite of Finland was predominantly finlandssvensk well into the 20th century.

So, now you know...

peacay said...

Heh. Thanks Supertyhmä!

Interestingly, the name Turku (in swedish it is Åbo) derives from the russian word or expression for 'market place'. That seems sensible given it's a major port.

Turku is nice enough to have their own website in 3 languages: finnish, swedish and the internet imperial language, for which we thank you.

So now I know..

Screen Hub said...

Thank you.

The drop bears, however, speak Russian.

That was cheap, I know, but I can't turn down the chance for an in-joke.

My impression, which is pretty old now, is that some parts of Finland are a bit insistent in keeping up the Swedish thing for minority ethnicity reasons. The man who told me that fed me on reindeer, for which we drove into Sweden, which gave him a chance to remark on the difference in buildings between the two countries. Sweden having been neutral, of course, in WW2, while Finland attracted a repulsive slew of enemies all of whom wanted to squash the place flat.

There remains some historical dispute about whether the Russians or the Germans actually murdered Santa. The event has been kept secret to protect the world's children from something terrible.

I had better stop now. That was even sillier than usual.

- barista

paola_ said...

Åbo Academi is a Finnish university and the correct English name for the institution is Åbo Akademi University. It has no ties with Sweden except for the language used for tuitition.

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