ANNA ELIZA LEAK. Leak's claim to fame is her appearance for years as a sideshow attraction in the Barnum Circus. Born without arms, she could write using only her feet.
A Photograph Signed By Circus Attraction Anna Eliza Leak
LEAK, ANNA ELIZA
ANNA ELIZA LEAK. ISP. 2 1/2" x 4 1/4". n.p. Aug. 24, 1871. A carte-de-visite signed and inscribed on the verso by Leak: "I write poetry & prose holding my pen between my toes. Ann E. Leak Born without arms age 29 years Georgia Aug. 24, 1871." The photograph shows her sitting on a counter with her bare feet on a silver tea service. Considering the circumstances, the writing is incredibly neat, dark and legible. She performed this routine in the same shows that featured Tom Thumb, among other noteworthy attractions. It was Barnum who invented the concept of the sideshow as a source of additional income, and also he who merged his "Hall of Human Oddities" with his circus. It is quite rare to see remnants of Barnum's spectacles, save those of Tom Thumb, in our age. The item shows some wear around the edges, but is in fine condition overall, and a reminder of what passed for entertainment years ago.