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Vintage Animal Oddities

Updated on October 17, 2015

Vintage Photographs

The hubs listed here all feature vintage photographs from my collection, and discuss what they show. More will be added as I get time to scan and post more pictures from my personal collection.

Some of these pictures are from known sources such as newspaper archives or the the collection of H E Zimmerman, others were found in second hand shops or via online auctions. It is a bit sad when a picture gets separated from its context (subject, photographer or descendents) but at least I can give them a good home and a new life online.

Each photo provides a concrete jumping off point for the discussion of "animal oddities", demonstrating some of the weird and wonderful creatures brought into the world by genetic or other congenital variations. There are also various animals feted as the smallest, largest, fastest or otherwise extraordinary.

[1] From the collection of H E Zimmerman; [2] Archives of the Examiner [4] Bernard Kobel


While an interest in animal oddities may seem, and indeed sometimes be, rather gratuitous and morbid--it does have another side to it. These pictures provide an avenue for exploring our past relationships with animals, elucidating the science of their genetics and anatomy, and they include some cautionary tales.

Many of these defects are cause by breeding and husbandry practices--and so those that cause suffering to the animal can be eradicated by increasing awareness of their appearance and causes. The attention paid to defects are often our first line of defense to stop the problem from spreading.

And those animals that are both with these defects often become treasured pets of people who will do to great lengths to look after a two headed snake, or two legged pig. Showing that our instinct to care for animals is never strong than with those who fight to overcome the cruel and arbitrary fates of congenital deformity.

Why Vintage?

The reason I focus on vintage pictures is because there was a boom in sideshows other paid exhibits of unusual animal between the dawn of commercial photography around 1910 and the advent of commercial color photography around 1950. So the most interesting (to me at least) pictures of freak animals come from this period.

A note about the photographs

if you wish to reproduce any of these vintage photographs please contact me at psycheskinner at do support the use of these pictures for non- (or negligibly) commercial purposes but require notification and a link back, please.

Photographs I am seeking:

I am seeking photographs similar to the ones shown on this hub. I am particularly seeking photographs of:

  • Horses with very long main/tail (especially well-known sideshow/circus horses)
  • Animals congenitally missing limbs
  • Fawn-calf syndrome
  • Non-standard markings on zebras
  • Alleged cryptids
  • World's smallest and largest horses and other animals.

If you have a specific image I am seeking I pay $10 for photographs or photo-postcards from 1920 or earlier, $5 for photographs from 1921-1950. Originals only. Higher prices may be negotiated depending on subject or rarity.

I will also trade photos on similar subjects so if there is something you are looking for, drop me a line at psycheskinner at


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