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Cast of a female dwarf's hand, found in the belly of a cod

Date made: 19th century

Description: This cast iron model of a female dwarf's hand (front and reverse shown) possibly originated in a circus or a similar freakshow. Comparable casts are known of the hand of Arthur Caley, the Manx giant, who was exhibited by the famous circus proprietor P.T. Barnum. The hand was found in the stomach of a large cod, which was caught twenty miles off Ramsey in 1932.

How it came to be there is a mystery, however the cod is like a marine vacuum cleaner. The fish scours the sea bottom for edible morsels: shellfish, marine worms and fish all form part of its normal diet. Indeed there is very little they will not eat. When gutted, some have even been found to have munched their way through a plastic cup just before being caught! The large mouth enables these voracious feeders to eat quite large prey. Cod of 7lb can swallow a whiting of over 1lb whole, so it would not have been impossible for this fish to have swallowed the hand.

In essence however this object raises more questions than answers, for example how did the hand come to be in the water for the fish to find it?

Measurements: overall: 12 x 7 x 4 cm

Materials: metal: iron

Object name: cast

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1954-3116

Subject tags : SHIC 2.45 - Furnishings and fittings, Ornaments and curios

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