This vividly coloured illustration shows French-American strongman Charles Samson snapping iron chains with a mere flex of his biceps, and breaking ropes by extending his chest. His 16-night residency at the Royal Aquarium was notable for him losing the title of World’s Strongest Man to the relatively diminutive German Eugen Sandow. On 2 November 1889, Samson called out to the audience for a challenger and Sandow accepted. They were neck-and-neck in feats of strength until Sandow lifted a 150-pound barbell straight above his head; a feat Samson was unable to replicate.
Lurid circus-style entertainments such as this were immensely popular with the population of Victorian Britain. Indeed, the original collector of this advertisement, Henry Evans (1832 estimamated - 1905) was himself a conjuror and ventriloquist under the stage name ‘Evanion’. Evans collected thousands of similar posters and ephemera; many, like this one, bold examples of chromolithography – a newly developed printing technique used in the mass production of colourful, eye-catching advertising material.
- Article by:
- Paul Schlicke
- Popular culture
Industrialisation had a dramatic effect upon all aspects of Victorian life. Paul Schlicke examines how it led to the growth of commercial entertainment and the presence of these new cultural forms in the novels of Charles Dickens.