Original Signed Cabinet Photo of Conjoined African-American Twins Millie and Christine McKoy [aka Millie-Christine], ca 1880s. aka "Millie-Christine", Millie McKOY, Christine.

Original Signed Cabinet Photo of Conjoined African-American Twins Millie and Christine McKoy [aka Millie-Christine], ca 1880s

Brooklyn: Ollivier Studio, N.d. [ca 1880s]. Paperback. A fine studio image from later in life of the African American conjoined twins, musicians, and dime museum performers Millie and Christine McKoy. The twins, known to contemporaries as Millie-Christine, were born into slavery in North Carolina in 1851 and sold as ten-month-old babies to a traveling showman. In relatively quick succession they were sold again as young children, kidnapped while on exhibition in New Orleans, then sold once more and taken to Europe. Finally the twins were reunited with their original owner, showman Joseph Smith, who would be the closest thing to a father figure in the McKoys' tumultuous lives. Smith tutored them in languages (they each spoke four or five) and performance (they were renowned for their harmonizing duets and often billed as "the Two-Headed Nightingale"). The McKoy sisters stayed with Smith's family until freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. In the 1880's the McKoys retired to their native North Carolina after a long career as performers. They died on the same day in 1912. While promotional cartes-de-visite of the twins are met with some frequency, cabinet-size images (like this one) are not commonly seen. The practice of selling signed photos to audience members -- or, in their retirement, to curiosity-seekers -- was of course a major source of income, not only for Millie-Christine but for many other sideshow performers as well. The Brooklyn firm of Ollivier & Co. specialized in such images. Original (vintage) albumen print, 5.5. x 4 inches; mounted on a 6.5 x 4.25 inch printed mount(verso blank). Signed in ink on the verso, in their characteristic hand, "Millie-Christine". Some light soiling and wear; image very slightly faded; still a very good copy of a striking image.

Price: $1,250.00
 

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