Royal Reels: Gambling


The present postcard cannot be called postal history as my card has not been through the post. It shows a group of longitudinally challenged individuals in fine formal ware, five ladies and six gentlemen. The group are described as Zeynard’s Amazing Midget Circus. Tiny-Town. The Big Show and the reverse simply has Post Card, without any identification as to the maker or country. (Figure 1).

Information on the group is meagre bordering on the non-existent, other than several other postcard views and 2 references found on the web at The Register Adelaide which are not available electronically, but a librarian at the State Library of South Australia sent copies to me. Both reports were dated October 1911 whilst the circus was in Adelaide, and quotations from the paper painted a vivid picture.

Tiny Town has giant audiences….The happy and attractive feature of this show is that the midget folk have a refined appearance. The ladies are quite in the fashion, and the men are immaculate in their dress suits. Hayati Hassid is a distinguished figure in frock coat and top hat, who has traveled four continents, and speaks eight languages. Some of the acts are then described: the revolving globe act of Miss Honka, who is just 34 inches high; the strong man Mr. Alphonso, who shows remarkable physical development; the contortionist, Mr. Morello, a 3ft. snake; the two pony bareback by Miss Paola and Mr. Pompeo, who are models of grace and precision; Mr. Fred, the skillful juggler … and the Hungarian and Tyrolean dancers. Tiny Town is three hours of rare fun.

Eleven days later, between 2,500 and 3,000 attended, and Tom Hassid was presented as Tom Thumb, a mere 30 inches tall. He was born in Turkey 50 years ago and has travelled practically all across Europe. Mr. Zeynard appeared on the stage and introduced individually the actors. Contrary to the expectations of some folks, they were not unsightly hunchbacks but well formed. Mr. Fred juggled with tennis rackets, spheres, bottles and flaring torches. Miss Hansl, a dainty and vivacious little lady, and one of the prime favorites sang ” Would you like to spoon with me” and “Kiss me honey” in a winsome manner. Later she appeared in the miniature circus ring and contributed a sporting jockey act upon a spirited grey pony, which she mounted at full canter, caused to jump over hurdles, and to continue in motion whilst she leaned down and picked handkerchiefs off the ground. Her lovely head of hair was admired by the ladies for it reached right to her feet.

Mr. Alfonso, the midget strong man was particularly well built. Although only weighing 50 lbs, he supported a board on his knees and shoulders while two men whose combined weight was six times his own, stood on it Zeynard’s midgets, six in number, entered with great zest into a Hungarian national dance. Altogether it was a happy and extraordinary entertainment, and the audience appreciated it. Tiny Town will open every Wednesday afternoon and night until November 4. The big disappointment is that the history of Zenard’s Midget Circus is not told.

Another postcard of the Zeynard’s troupe is seen in Figure 2.

I acknowledge the assistance of Tricia Darley of the South Australian State Library with the only worthwhile text concerning this Midget Circus.

Categories: Mining, Postcards