The Lost Museum Archive

FeJee Mermaid, New York Sunday Herald and Charleston Courier

These two images are illustrations that were used to advertise the FeJee Mermaid when it was exhibited in New York and later in Charleston, South Carolina. The first, of a grotesque fish-monkey composite, was published in the New York Sunday Herald in 1842. It contrasts sharply with the second, of an alluring sea-siren out of a sailor's dream, that appeared in the Charleston Courier on January 21, 1843. The discrepancy between the images was likely due to the constraints of geography and printing technology. A local sketch artist in New York City could render an accurate likeness of the “mermaid,” while a faraway newspaper had to rely on stock printers’ engravings to advertise the attraction that was coming to their city.

New York Sunday Herald illustration of Feejee mermaid portrayed as a grotesque sea beast with a gaping mouth full of sharp fangs, wrinkled skin, claw-like hands and skinny arms, a tapering body with scales, fins, and a long tail.

Advertisement published in Charleston Courier depicting Feejee mermaid as a beautiful woman with a graceful fish tail and long, flowing hair, delicate features, and a curvaceous body rising from the ocean.

Source: Library of Congress