The Chang and Eng ExhibitThe Lost Museum Archive
Chang and Eng Bunker, conjoined twins from Siam (now Thailand), came to the U.S. in 1829 and toured the nation and the world over the next four decades. Born in 1811 of Chinese parents, the twins were successful entrepreneurs in Siam before Boston sea captain Abel Coffin contracted to manage them as a touring exhibit. After three years with Coffin, the brothers took over their own careers as a touring curiosity until they earned enough money to purchase a plantation and slaves in North Carolina. Although they had minimal dealings with Barnum, he displayed a wax figure of the twins in the American Museum in the 1840s, published a pamphlet on their lives in 1853, and publicly associated himself with the brothers. With large families to support, Chang and Eng returned to show business, agreeing to a six-week engagement at Barnum’s American Museum in 1860. After suffering financial loses during the Civil War, the brothers again agreed to a European tour sponsored by Barnum in 1868. They died in January 1874.