Browse Exhibits (5 total)
A mummified hand and arm had been presented to the Library Company of Philadelphia by Benjamin West in 1763, and a baby mummy had been given to the University of Pennsylvania in 1816, as well as a delicate hand.
An advertisement for Peale’s Museum (in the upper rooms of the State House in Philadelphia) in the 4 March 1817 Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser noted that the hand of an Egyptian mummy had been recently presented by Dr. Shippen. (Dr. Joseph Galloway Shippen).
These were isolated incidents and not generally known to more than the immediate public vicinity of these institutions. However, in 1818 things started to change.
When one thinks of spectacular items in a museum setting, one of the first names which comes to mind is that of P.T. Barnum and his American Museum. But there were others who collected and exhibited mummies in the mid-nineteenth century. One of these was Henry Abbott.
There were only a few public mummy unwrappings in the United States after the autopsy and dissection of Lee's mummy in 1824. Both Rubens Peal and John Scudder hhad offered them to the public, (for men ony!). but the results were evidently not published in the newspapers as no record of these has yet come to light.
In fact there were very few mummies in the United States until the ante-bellum period, after the Pasha forbade exports in 1835.
The British and French were holding unwrapping parties as reported from foreign newspapers in the American press, but that sort of thins was not happening "on this side of the pond."
One of the few unwrappings of which there are excellent details are the unwrappings perfomed by George Gliddon, beginning in 1850, which proved that surprises could and would happen.
For many years there have been rumors of paper being made from mummy wrappings. It has long been considered an "urban legend." However, my research has found several smoking gunsand actually identified at least one printed object that actually states it is made from mummy paper!
A sampler of the different ways in which mummies were viewed outside of museums--in public spaces, as ethnological curiosities, and as subjects in literary excursions. NOT intended to be an exhaustive or authoritative presentation, these were some of the things which I did not cover in my book. They are meant to be a jumping point for the uses of Egyptian mummies in these fields of study.