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P. T. Barnum was possibly the greatest showman who ever lived, famous for his circuses and museums of ‘curiosities’.
“I believe hugely in advertising and blowing my own trumpet, beating the gongs, drums, to attract attention to a "show, " Phineas Taylor Barnum wrote to a publisher in 1860. "I don't believe in 'duping the public, ' but I do believe in first "attracting" and then pleasing them."
His autobiography reveals the trailblazing American showman as, by turns, a moral reformer, a habitual hoaxer, an insightful critic, a master of self-promotion, a relentless provocateur, and an early advocate of family entertainments.
By the age of 12, Barnum was displaying vast business acumen by selling huge quantities of lottery tickets.
Along the way he learned that sheer persistence is often the difference between someone who succeeds and someone who fails. “And do not waste your time waiting for something to ‘turn up’. People who do this, Barnum he wrote, often ‘turn up’ in a poorhouse or a jail. When you see an opportunity, seize it and do the work needed to make it succeed!”
Always the king of showmen, Barnum was forever on the lookout for "curiosities." His early career included such outright frauds as Joyce, the “161-year-old nurse of George Washington," and the Fee-jee Mermaid: the desiccated head and torso of a monkey sewn to the body of a fish.
Today he is considered a master of promotion whose ideas are still studied by schools and marketers of all kinds.
"P. T." (Phineas Taylor) Barnum (1810 –1891) was an American politician, showman, and businessman remembered for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus, also known as ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.’