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Peter Smith - Impossimals

1870, Germany

Limited Edition Canvas on Board of 95
Image Size 18¾" x 30"
Framed 595

A chance free ticket given to Charles in 1889 gave him the opportunity to meet the showman of the decade, Phineas T.Barnum, as he bought his 'Greatest Show on Earth' over from New York and straight to Olympia in London.

Charles was more interested in one of Barnum's 'acts' though, the only tame captive Clipperwhip - a curious animal that balances strength and dexterity into one complete unit. Now the Barnum's Bar Bending Ringling Clipperwhip is a top-of-the-bill crowd pleaser, known as the 'Greatest Animal on Earth'.

The only previous example was a fleeting glimpse that Charles managed to get in 1858 whilst in Germany on a hunt for the Peppered Pork Pie Pig. The Clipperwhip moved at lightening speed after being disturbed as it ate horse chestnuts. It skilfully weaved its way through the trees, completely unhindered by its duality - an ability that made it incredibly hard to sneak up on.

Charles had no drawing facilities to hand so he improvised and used a small metal cleaning brush from his shaving kit which he bent in an approximate representation of the Clipperwhips distinctive curly shape. When he returned to camp he made a sketch from memory and using the curly metal shape as reference. Once he had finished sketching he inadvertently pushed the papers in between the metal curl and found to his amazement the papers held together with this paper 'clip'.

A failure to patent his accidental finding led to the paperclip being taken into common usage by the 1870's after unscrupulous companions copied it by the thousands.

Charles, upon meeting Barnum's Clipperwhip, was amazed to find that it was the very Clipperwhip that gave him the slip all those years ago. With its fantastic memory and superior strength, it was not only able to describe exactly what he wore that day, but also bent him a new bit of metal in the shape of the now common paperclip.

The Clipperwhip Bent Metal Bar is now one of the most prized possessions at the National Museum of Antiquities, along with Charles' original bit of curly metal.


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