Timeline of the Exchange

Captured Moments in Time

“Greatest Showman” Performers, The Giantess, the Siamese Twins and the Circassian Lady, Visit the Exchange

On the 18th of June 1869, Blackburn was host to an exhibition of well-known celebrities – Miss Anna Swan, the Giantess, Chang and Eng Bunker, the Siamese Twins, and Zoebida Luti, the Circassian Lady.

Chang and Eng Bunker were conjoined twin brothers from Siam (now Thailand) who became famous as the “Siamese twins” in the 19th century. They were connected by a band of flesh and cartilage at the sternum and shared a liver. They were exhibited as curiosities in the United States and Europe, where they learned English, became naturalized citizens, and married local sisters. They settled in North Carolina, where they owned plantations and slaves, and fathered twenty-one children. They resumed touring occasionally to support their large families.

Anna Swan was a Canadian woman who was one of the tallest women ever. She was born in 1846 and grew very rapidly. She excelled at literature, music and acting. She met and married Martin Van Buren Bates, another giant, in 1871. They retired to Ohio and built a mansion. She had two children with Martin, both of whom died shortly after birth. The second child was the largest newborn ever recorded, weighing 23 pounds 9 ounces (10.7 kg). She toured the US and Europe, including performing for Queen Victoria, who would later gift her a satin gown and diamond ring as a wedding gift

Zoebida Luti was a Circassian woman who became a circus performer and a magician in the late 19th century. She was born in the Black Sea region of Russia, where Circassian women were considered to be the most beautiful in the world, as the ‘purest’ examples of the Caucasian race. She was also known as ‘the only lady magician in the world’, and performed various tricks such as producing flowers, birds, and flags from thin air. She wore peasant clothing and had her hair styled in a distinctive frizzy manner, which was supposed to resemble the hair of Circassian women.

All three performers worked with “The Greatest Showman”, P.T. Barnum, with the Bunker brothers and Anna Swan all performing at the famous American Museum in New York.

Poster for Chang and Eng Bunker, the Siamese Twins

Poster for Chang and Eng Bunker, the Siamese Twins


Anna Swan

Photo of Anna Swan

Zoebida Luti

Poster for Zoebida Luti