“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, CHILDREN OF ALL AGES, LOOK AT THE GIRL ON THE FLYING TRAPEZE” …ROSE AUSTIN, AERIAL PERFORMING STAR

This cabinet card features a pretty, Rose Austin, of the Austin Sisters, who were well known trapeze artists. On the reverse of the photograph is a pencilled notation that states the performer’s name and “Bath Beach, Long Island, New York” (Bath Beach is in Brooklyn). The image was published by the Robinson & Roe studio which had galleries in both Chicago and New York City. The Circus Historical Society’s web site cites the “Austin Family”. Its members included R.G., Aimee (1870-1907), George E., and Rose. Among their venues were Orrin Brothers (1883-1884), W. W. Cole (1885), Coney Island (1892), and Bentley’s (1895). Aimee Austin, born in London, was an aerialist who was known as the “Human Fly” for her talent of “ceiling walking”. She began performing with Rose Austin, at nine years of age, as part of the Austin Sisters aerial act which played at the Circus Rentz, in Berlin, Germany. The act was managed by R. G. Austin. The aerialist performed with various European circuses before coming to the United States. Rose Austin was the subject of three articles in the New York Times. A 1892 article was entitled “Cannot Find Rose Austin”. The article reported that the disappearance of Ms. Austin from her home in Bath Beach. She was described as a well known trapeze performeer and leader of the “clever” Austin Sisters. It was also metioned that she was the wife of R. G. Austin; the manager of the Australian Theatrical Company. At the time of her disappearance, she and her sister were performing at Vaceas’s West End Casino in Coney Island, New York. She had been last seen boarding a ferry bound for New York City. The article points out that Ms. Austin had suffered from epilepsy for the previous four or five years and had experienced a severe attack about ten days earlier.(An acrobat with epilepsy? Doesn’t seem like a terrific career choice.). The article closes with a statement that both Rose Austin’s husband and her doctor, believed that she was either in a hospital, or had fallen off the ferry and drowned. A follow up article (1892) revealed that Ms. Austin had been found and was currently confined to bed as “she is wandering in her mind”. She couldn’t account for her whereabouts or activities during the time she was missing and last remembered falling ill on the ferry. A third article in the New York Times (1894) reports that Rose fell from a trapeze while performing with her brother George in Coney Island. She fell after fainting (one would imagine she had a epileptic seizure). She and her brother fell into a net together and knocked heads, rendering them both unconscious. George recovered quickly but Rose was brought home to Bensonhurst (Brooklyn) in a delirious condition. To view other photographs by Robinson and Roe, and to learn a little about them, click on the category “Photographer: Robinson & Roe”.


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GOOD TIME GIRL IN NEW YORK CITY (1897)

The following letter in inscribed on the reverse of this cabinet card. “Dear Friends, This picture I send as a token to remember the good times we had and hoping to see you all again if not in this world then in the next. From a true friend, Lizzie   This day November 4/1897”. This is a sweet letter from a girl who appears to be in her teenage years. The photographer of this cabinet card is The Robinson & Roe Photo Studios, in  New York City. The studio had operations in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. They also operated a studio in Chicago, Illinois. They were prominent photographers in the 1880’s and 1890’s. The pair of photographers are known for their photographs of Inuits from Labrador that were produced during the Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893). The Inuits were part of the Eskimo Village exhibition.