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Lot 372: Eli Bowen and his family.
29 October 2016
Yonkers, NY, USALive Auction
Description: Eli Bowen and his family. Bowen had phocomelia (seal limbs), and so could not walk in the normal manner. He needed to use his arms for mobility, and thus developed great strength in his arms, and performed as an acrobat. He is often depicted by Eisenmann and others in normal middle class dress, with his family. Mitchell, in Monsters of the Gilded Age, wrote. “…. a freak’s prospects were far different in the nineteenth century than they would be in our present era. In many respects the abnormal people Eisenmann photographed enjoyed a healthier social climate and better financial and social opportunities. They faced neither the premium we now place on physical normalcy nor suffered lifelong institutionalization.” This lot includes a cabinet card by Sword’s Brothers that shows Bowen with his hand over his heart, surrounded by his wife, four sons, and the family pet (looks like a small goat.) A period note on he back: “I bought this @ the circus in 1892”. Clean  Plus two CDV’s by A. Newman, Phil., that shows Bowen with his wife and young son.)
Condition Report: Clean [3+]