Artefacts: ‘Consul the Intelligent Chimpanzee’

The ‘Almost Human’ Chimpanzee ‘Consul’ is shown in this postcard as a ‘pupil’ of Frank Bostock’s Jungle. However, since the original ‘Consul’ died several years before 1908, it actually shows Frank Bostock’s skills in promoting profitable acts even after their death! The original ‘Consul’ performed at Bostock’s Coney Island arena in New York, USA before coming to Europe to tour in 1904. He died shortly after his arrival in Europe. Bostock though, had several replacements lined up all billed as ‘Consul’!

From an old article (undated):

The performing chimpanzee Consul, which was regarded as the smartest monkey in the world, has died in Berlin. The chimpanzee was insured for £20,000. [An English paper has the following with reference to the chimpanzee: — “A living argument for Darwin’s theory is to be found in America in Consul, the chimpanzee, which is one of the central attractions of Bostock’s Animal Arena. This queer little man-like monkey lives like a gentleman. He rises at the sound of the gong at ten o’clock in the morning. After he has discarded his light blue silk pyjamas he takes his morning tub… Just before be retires at 11.30 pm he takes a pint of hot chocolate for a nightcap. Consul’s nearness to the human family is shown in his appreciation of stimulants and his fondness for cigars and cigarettes. He would sell his birthright if he had the opportunity, for a bottle of whisky. The very sight of it brings forth a grin from ear to ear. A full account of Consul’s daily doings would be a mere catalogue of all the things that other gentlemen do. He sleeps in a bed, stretches and yawns. He brushes his teeth and combs his hair, carefully parting it in the middle. He dresses and undresses himself and shows partiality for certain combinations of dress. He also mends his clothes, washes them, and   hangs them out to dry. He plays football, boxes like Fitzimmons and can carry a 30 lb weight while walking erect. Consul rides a bicycle. He is the only animal known who has succeeded in getting on and retaining the momentum of the bicycle. He is an expert chauffeur, and owns a handsome electric motor car.  He uses a typewriter and writes his name boldly.  His intelligence is marvellously suggestive”.]The Capricornian

I remember London Zoo holding daily Chimpanzee tea parties. I certainly attended one (as visitor!) during the school trip around 1958. They eventually died out given the rise of the Animal Rights movement and public opinion. That did not stop PG Tips from using Chimpanzees in their advertisements well into the 1960s in Britain.

Artefacts: Further items added to the Collection

George Wombwell menagerie ‘fostered’ many talented showmen, performers, trainers, etc. One such showman was James Chittock’s father, originally an apprentice baker in Norwich, and at 18 left to become an animal trainer with George Wombwell’s Menagerie. He stayed the next 20 years! When that show dispersed, he began on his own with, rather strangely, performing canaries, hares and ponies. James was born in 1841 and brought up in the business and was well known by George Wombwell. When old enough, James left his family, married, and travelled with his own show. James and his shows are described in the text Travelling Cinematograph Show by Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith.

Brief Excerpt:

In “TheShowman”  he was described as being from one of the “oldest and most representative families of the aristocracy of the road.” His first show featured his famous troupe of performing dogs and monkeys, considered the best travelling. It opened at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, each winter for over 30 years, and rarely travelled far from the London area. On seeing the success Randall Williams was having with his Cinematograph at the World’s Fair in 1896, James Chittock invested £500 and began to show moving pictures using a projector acquired from R.W. Paul, his first show being at a fair in Birmingham in 1897. He claimed that so popular was the new enterprise that he netted, in coppers, £40 a day.

The following rare photograph shows James Chittock’s Dog and Monkeys show entrance, probably prior to 1897, the year he turned his attention to the newly invented Cinematograph. (The rear of the card states ‘@FPS Chittock’s animal show. 1885.’)
The Chittocks are also related through marriage to the Chipperfield family.