Fiji’s mermaid is a horror story that happened almost 200 years ago. It’s totally surprising and scary.
In mid-July 1842, an English gentleman was named “Dr. J. Griffin.” He was a British Natural History Lyceum member who arrived in New York City with remarkable curiosity. There was a royal mermaid supposedly captured near the Islands of Fiji South Pacific. The press was waiting for him all summer. They received letters from Southern correspondents describing the doctor and his siren. So when he arrived at his hotel, reporters were waiting for him. They were demanding to see the siren. He was reluctantly forced. What they saw left them convinced of the authenticity of the creature.
Mermaid of Fiji
Shortly after this, the showman PT Barnum visited the offices of the main newspapers. He explained that he had been trying to convince Dr. Griffin to show the mermaid in his museum. Unfortunately, the doctor was not willing to do so. Barnum offered to give him a woodcut of a beautiful mermaid with the bare chest he had prepared. It’s because it was now useless for him. He happily accepted the offer. On July 17, woodcuts of mermaids appeared in every newspaper.
At the same time, Barnum distributed ten thousand copies of a booklet about mermaids throughout the city. The mermaids in the booklet were also depicted as seductive ocean maidens. With all this publicity, the anticipation to see the Mermaid of Fiji became enormous. It was the main topic of conversation throughout the city. Everyone was talking about whether it was a real mermaid. They had to see it for themselves. Dr. Griffin agreed to exhibit it for a week in the concert hall on Broadway.
Large crowds showed up for the exhibition. Dr. Griffin gave a lecture to these crowds about his experiences as an explorer. He described his theories of natural history. These theories were a bit peculiar. His main argument was that mermaids should be real since all things on earth have their counterparts in the ocean. It includes seahorses and sea lions, etc. Therefore, we must assume that there are also humans in the sea.
Meanwhile, the press maintained attention to the siren. There were excellent reviews appearing in the newspapers. After hiring a week in the concert hall, Dr. Griffin agreed to allow the mermaid to stay longer in New York City. So he moved to the American Museum of Barnum, where it was exhibited for a month “at no extra charge.” Ticket receipts in the museum tripled promptly. Throughout all this, the public’s deception had been triple.
Despite the ads they had shown of a mermaid with the body of a young and beautiful woman, the creature itself was much less attractive. He had the withered body of a monkey and the dried tail of a fish. Barnum later described the mermaid as “ugly and black in his autobiography. It was also dry. Her arms were thrown up, giving her the appearance of having died in great agony.”
Second, Dr. Griffin was a fraud. He was not an English gentleman. There was no such thing as the British Natural History Lyceum. Griffin’s real name was Levi Lyman, and he was an accomplice of Barnum. The introduction and exhibition of the mermaid had been an original idea by Barnum all the time. Barnum had arranged letters about Dr. Griffin to be sent to the New York newspapers throughout the summer. He had then carefully orchestrated the mermaid’s publicity.
Finally, the mermaid herself was a fake. Barnum knew it. He had bought it from a friend. This, in turn, is from a sailor. Before doing so, Barnum had consulted a naturalist to ask about the authenticity of the mermaid. The naturalist had assured him that it was quite false. However, Barnum realized that it was not important if the siren was real. All that was important was for the public to believe it. So he hired a fake naturalist, Dr. Griffin. He attested to the creature’s authenticity and placed pictures of mermaids with a bare chest in the newspapers. They thereby manipulated the public to want to see him.
The Mermaid of Fiji was an example of a traditional art form perfected by fishermen in Japan and the East Indies. They built fake mermaids by sewing the upper organs of monkeys into the fish bodies. These mermaids are often created for use in religious ceremonies. The Mermaid of Fiji is believed to have been created around 1810 by a Japanese fisherman. Dutch merchants bought it. In 1822, they resold it to an American ship captain. His name was Samuel Barrett Eades. It was sold for $ 6000. At that time, it was a huge amount of money. Eades had to sell his ship to buy the mermaid, but he hoped to make a fortune by exhibiting in London.
In September 1822, Eades had arrived in London with the siren. It did not become a popular attraction. But he never made a fortune for him. Eades was not as good a showman as Barnum would be later. In addition, British naturalists had the opportunity to examine the mermaid. They soon denied it in the press, dampening the public’s interest in it. The courts ordered Eades to return the money he had embezzled. He was sailing them seas over the next twenty years and trying to pay off the debt.
But he never did. When he died, the property of the mermaid passed to his son. The son quickly sold it to Moses Kimball for a fraction of what his father had bought it. After Kimball, he went to Barnum. After Barnum had exhibited the mermaid for a month at the Museum, he decided to send it on a tour of the southern states. He trusted his uncle, Alanson Taylor. He was responsible for it. Barnum foresaw a tour without incident, but this was not the case. When Taylor and the mermaid arrived in South Carolina, they were involved in a bitter dispute between two rival newspapers. It was the Charleston Courier and the Charleston Mercury. The mermaid was the focus of the controversy.
The problem began when Richard Yeadon wrote a review of the mermaid. He was the editor of El Correo. He declared his belief that it was real. At the same time, there was a local amateur naturalist. His name was Reverend John Bachman. He posted a comment on the Mercury. He criticized the mermaid as a farce. This difference of opinion intensified rapidly in a bitter discussion. Over the next twenty years, the Fiji Mermaid divided her time between the Kimball Museum in Boston and the Barnum Museum in New York.
His biggest adventure came in 1859 when Barnum took her with him on a tour of London. When Barnum returned from London in June 1859, he brought her back to the Kimball museums. This would prove to be the last place known to be. After this, his whereabouts are unknown. According to one theory, it was destroyed when the Barnum museum was burned in 1865.
The Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology at Harvard University has a siren. Some have speculated it might be Fiji’s original Mermaid. According to her records, this mermaid was saved from the fire that consumed the Kimball Museum. It was later donated to Harvard University by the heirs of Kimball. The problem is that the Peabody siren is nothing like what you would expect from the Fiji Mermaid. It is much smaller and has a worse design. So the true Fiji Mermaid probably met its end in the 1880s.
The Fiji Mermaid has become the generic term for the many false mermaids that can be found worldwide. Logically so far, there is no real proof that these beings exist.