Sunday, January 12, 2014

Print of the Day: Toby, the Sapient Pig, 1817

Hand Bill
England, 1817
The Victoria & Albert Museum

I think I should like to have known Toby, the Sapient Pig. Here’s a handbill advertising this porcine performer. It reads:
‘Toby, the Sapient Pig' at the Royal Promenade Rooms, Spring Gardens, Vauxhall 

It is dated in ink, “Saturday March 1 1817.”

Toby was billed as “The greatest Curiosity of the present Day.”

It seems he could:
“SPELL AND READ; CAST ACCOUNTS; PLAY AT CARDS; Tell any Person what o'Clock it is to a Minute, BY THEIR OWN WATCH; ALSO TELL THE AGE OF ANY ONE IN COMPANY; and what is more Astonishing he will Discover a Person's Thoughts, A Thing never heard of before, particularly of so singular an animal, as that of the SWINE RACE.” 

See? He would have been quite a hoot to have around. The image indicates, also, that Toby was a Mason. 

The wood engraving was published by W. Glindon.

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