Prince of Humbugs

Collector: Arlo

Artist: Jon Mordin

Placement: Stomach

P.T. Barnum, popular huckster, showman and founder of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Baily Circus was the self-proclaimed, “Prince of Humbugs.”  He perpetrated many hoaxes (or “humbugs” as he called them), such as the “Feegee” mermaid, which was the upper half of an ape cadaver sewn to a fish tail, but it was always in the name of entertainment.  Barnum considered his hoaxes a kind of advertising, to get people in the door; the value in what he was selling came from his shows; even if the mermaid wasn’t real, the entertainment was.  P.T. Barnum knew all the tricks of the trade and he was incensed by the spiritualists and mediums of his day who were defrauding the public by offering nothing but humbugs.  A forebear to prominent Skeptics such as Harry Houdini and James Randi (both entertainers well-versed in misdirection), Barnum challenged and exposed the charlatans of his time even offering $500 to any medium who could prove their power!  For the tattoo on my stomach I chose one of Barnum’s greatest attractions, Jumbo the Elephant.  Jumbo was such a sensation that to this day we still use the word “jumbo” to describe things that are HUGE.  While I chose an elephant (which people love, it is consistently pointed out as a favorite of my tattoos), I gave this tattoo high artistry marks because of P.T. Barnum’s association with the circus, there is almost a limitless number of cool concepts you could come up with to commemorate this 19th century stalwart of Skepticism.