Entrance tokens for Gilbert Pidcock's menagerie, ca. 1795.
Entrance tokens for Gilbert Pidcock's menagerie, ca. 1795.

Entrance tokens for Gilbert Pidcock's menagerie, ca. 1795.

circa 1795.

Two bronze tokens, diameter 21cms.

Two Eighteenth century Tokens of Exotic animals

Pidcock's menagerie was at Exeter Exchange on the Strand in London. He exhibited exotic animals since 1793, including a kangaroo, elephant, rhinoceros and cockatoos. The tokens here on offer are one showing an elephant and on verso a cockatoo; the other showing an elephant and a two-headed cow.

Pidcock's menagerie was at Exeter Exchange on the Strand in London. He exhibited exotic animals since 1793, including a kangaroo, elephant, rhinoceros and cockatoos. The tokens here on offer are one showing an elephant and on verso a cockatoo; the other showing an elephant and a two-headed cow.
Gilbert Pidcock had worked in travelling shows since he was a young man, and in 1795 took sole ownership of the London-based menagerie which bore his name, situated in the Strand in a building called the Exeter Change. One of the grand sights of the metropolis, people flocked to see the exotic animals and birds on show, and he started at an ideal time for acquiring specimens from Australian and South-East Asia. One of Pidcock's regular visitors was the wood engraver and artist Thomas Bewick, who used the animals as models for the engravings he included in works like his famous General History of Quadrupeds.
The rare bronze token advertising their acquisition of a crested cockatoo, given the rather limited detail of the present specimen, and the lack of explicit records of the birds kept by Pidcock, it is not possible to be precise about exactly what kind of cockatoo is depicted: having said that, it must be one of the birds endemic to Australia or Indonesia: the sulphur-, orange-, yellow- or otherwise crested cockatoos. In John White's Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales, to cite one obvious comparison, there is a "Crested Cockatoo" that was drawn by Sarah Stone.
The two-headed heifer was a live exhibit and an advertisement referring to it appeared in the 29th January 1791 edition of the London Chronicle: "Now exhibiting at the Lyceum Strand. The surprising Heifer with two heads. This very remarkable creature has two Heads, Four Horns, Four Ears, Four Nostrils, through each of which it breathes, &c. This truly wonderful Curiosity is the only one of the kind in Europe; and what is more astonishing, it takes its Sustenance with both mouths at the same time, to the admiration of the Faculty, and the Beholders in general; and it also the received opinion of John Hunter, Esq., Professor of Anatomy, that it has two hearts. One of the Heads, together with the Horns, represents that of a bull, and the other a Cow. The height of the animal is thirteen hands, and each Horn measures twenty-five inches long. Admittance One Shilling. N.B.- Most money given for all sorts of foreign Beasts and Birds, if alive, by G. Pidcock."

Price (AUD): $1,450.00  other currencies     Ref: #4204893

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