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Extraordinary Exhibitions: Broadsides from the Collection of Ricky Jay Hardcover – May 17, 2005


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Extraordinary Exhibitions: Broadsides from the Collection of Ricky Jay + Celebrations of Curious Characters + Dice: Deception, Fate, and Rotten Luck
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Product Details

  • Series: Broadsides from the Collection of Ricky Jay
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Quantuck Lane Press; First Edition edition (May 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593720122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593720124
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 10.2 x 13.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,095,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This oversize, richly illustrated and well-annotated book could emerge from none other than Jay—showman, card shark, actor, curator and wondrously quirky cultural presence. The author of Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women likes to collect showbills, those exuberant advertisements for singular, often questionable entertainers, and the ones presented here—in Italian, French, German and English—vividly depict the sideshow mentalitywith idiosyncratic graphics and "florid, orotund language." The collection parallels Jay's interest in both deception and unusual acts, beginning with the "Learned Horse" in Milan, circa 1618, which collected money and fetched wine, and ending with Cinquevalli, "King of the Jugglers," who dazzled 1898 Birkenhead, England, with his skill manipulating cannonballs and pool balls. In between,readers meet "the greatest German living," a 29-inch wonder; the equestrian apiarist who wore a "bee blindfold"; the now-notorious "Hottentot Venus"; the "giant Hungarian schoolboy" and many others. Jay's collection was first exhibited at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. As the center's chief curator says, the pieces stand up both as "historically worthy art and little time bombs of insight." Oh, and that Whimsiphusicon? It's a "theatrical neologism used to entice, or more likely confuse, the public." Indeed. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Ricky Jay is one of the world's great sleight-of-hand artists and an expert on the world of fantastic entertainment. His award-winning one-man shows were directed by David Mamet, in whose many films Mr. Jay has appeared. He is author of New York Times Notable Books Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women, Jay's Journal of Anomalies, Extraordinary Exhibitions, and Dice: Deception, Fate & Rotten Luck with Rosamond Purcell. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is a wonderful book by a truly genius author.
Harry Monti
The broadsides are funny and beautiful, and Jay's learned and enthusiastic commentary about each one is on the page facing each specimen.
R. Hardy
This book is a fascinating collection of antique advertisements for entertainment acts ranging from the whimsical to the bizarre.
Mark Webb

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you ever have a chance for a collector to show his collection, you run the risk of being terribly bored. Unless you yourself collect stamps, coins, thimbles, Hummel figurines, or Corvettes, you are unlikely to sympathize with the delight the collector takes in his hoard. Ricky Jay is a fascinating man; he is a master magician, a historian of show business (especially of novelty acts), and an actor in David Mamet's movies. He collects something few others do: showbills for the jugglers, magicians, animal acts, ventriloquists, and other eccentric and novelty performances through almost four centuries. Don't worry, it is far from boring. Around eighty of his specimens are on display in a large format book, _Extraordinary Exhibitions: The Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head, the Whimsiphusicon & Death to the Savage Unitarians_ (Quantuck Lane Press). The broadsides are funny and beautiful, and Jay's learned and enthusiastic commentary about each one is on the page facing each specimen. It is all thoroughly entertaining, and like any show advertising, the posters make you wonder if the acts are really as described. There is so much verbal and graphic hyperbole on display here that a bit of incredulity is only sensible, but still: who, if confronted by an announcement for Signor Cappelli and his Learned Cats, with assurances that after he introduces his cats to the audience, they will "beat a drum, turn a spit, grind knives, strike upon an anvil, roast coffee, ring bells, set a piece of Machinery in motion to grind rice in the Italian manner with many other astonishing exercises", who, I say, would let incredulity overcome a wish to get a peek at the show?

Let me just take the three displays mentioned in the subtitle.
Read more ›
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Larry "Ratso" Sloman on July 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ricky Jay is a national treasure. He's the head curator of a continuing collection of the curious, marginal, sometimes macabre but always compelling congregation of entertainers who have slipped through the trapdoor of time's stage. His newest masterpiece, Extraordinary Exhibitions, is a catalogue of broadsides heralding some of the strangest performers that ever graced an auditorium or a sidewalk. You'll meet Pietro Stadelmann, a seventeenth century armless dulcimer player. As well as the nameless 27 year-old Angolan "Famous African Hermaphrodite". And a South American trio whose huge excrescences extruding from their chins gave them their stage moniker "The Monstrous Craws". You can sit at the feet of Joice Heth, the 161 year-old former nursemaid of Little Georgie Washington, the marvelous showman P. T. Barnum's first client. There's singing mice, educated fleas and a Rabbi whose demonstrations of his prodigious memory were endorsed by the Pope himself. To paraphrase the immortal Charles Fort, you'll see a procession of the damned of showbiz. And thanks to the wonderful Mr. Jay, they'll walk (and bark, tumble, juggle, catch bullets, arm wrestle, rope dance and eat stones) again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Harry Monti on August 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book by a truly genius author. Also, make sure you put Ricky Jay's other books on your list. He has a great mind and his books are phenomenal!

Harry Monti

Society of American Magicians

National President 1999-2000
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ricky Jay has put together another stunning book that captures a small slice of the odd and usual through playbills and broadsides. This oversized volume is beautifully put together, and each broadside is reproduced faithfully on glossy paper. They are unique pieces that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere (though a few are in Jay's other books as well).

By far my favorite author of the unusual and the arcane, this book is the prettiest that Jay has put together recently. As someone who loves books and all the tactile sensations that come along with cracking open a good one, reading this book is a pleasure. It is an expensive book, but I can promise that if you are interested enough to be reading this review, it will not disappoint. Purchase it and enjoy while reading about learned horses, daring apiarists, fantastic machines, genius animals, and magical impostors.

If you are new to Ricky Jay and hesitate to spend the money, start with the equally great and much less expensive Celebrations of Curious Characters, then move on to this volume. Highly Recommended.
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