Magician, author, and curiosity historian Ricky Jay was interviewed today on National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation. The always-engaging prestidigitator talked about the art of the con, the secrets of Three Card Monte, and his new book, Extraordinary Exhibitions: The Wonderful Remains of an Enormous Head, the Whimsiphusicon & Death to the Savage Unitarians. (The book is due out in June, but you can buy it early through the Museum of Jurassic Technology bookstore. Link) From the description of Extraordinary Exhibitions:
An informal look at sensational, scientific, satisfying, silly and startling attractions based on 17th, 18th and 19th century playbills from the collection of Ricky Jay. It is the contention of Mr. Jay that neither the tongue of the most florid orator, or pen of the most ingenious writer can sufficiently describe the elegance, symmetry, and prodigious accomplishments of those who are featured in this volume.
Included are broadsides advertising: an armless dulcimer player, a ghost showman, a singing mouse, a chess playing automaton, a cannon ball juggler, an African hermaphrodite, a chicken incubating machine, a rabbi with prodigious memory, a ventriloquist, a spirit medium, a glass blower, a woman magician, a speaking machine, a mermaid, a bullet catcher, a flea circus, & an equestrian bee keeper.
Link to Talk of the Nation archive