The Nelson Supply House


I read about a company called the Nelson Supply Company that supplied sideshow owners with manufactured mummies to display in there shows in the early 1900's. Do you have any historical information on this company? Glenn Young, MI


Glenn, The Nelson Supply House was located at 514 E. 4th St. South Boston Massachusetts. Billy Nelson was the Manager.


They listed in their catalog that they are the manufactures of Mummified Curiosities. Of the Strange, Remarkable, Curiosities and Monstrosities. Both Animal and Human Mummified Reproductions of the World's Greatest Sideshow Wonders who once lived and were exhibited alive. As well as Wonderful Imaginary Wonders conceived by the mind of man.


It was said the Billy Nelson spent most of his lifetime in the show business as a manager, performer, lecturer for circuses, museums, wild west show and carnivals, and appeared in about every large town and city in the U.S. and Canada, and in many of the important cities of the "old world" with his sideshow and museum and was well known by showman all over the world.


These are excerpts from one of their catalogs,


I Sell only Main Features, Star Attractions for Museums, Side Shows, Five, Ten, Twenty and Thirty in One Shows, and Supply Shows, Parks, and Carnivals in all parts of the World, and will Ship Goods to any Civilized Climate on Earth that Transportation Company will Reach.


As a General Thing I have these Goods in Stock, Ready to Ship the Day your Money is Received, but it is the Rule of the House not to Ship Goods until either the Deposit or Full Amount is Received.




You will not have to take any chances on these goods for if you do not know my work or have an idea how it looks, then I advise you to have them shipped C. 0. D., with the privilege of examination, so that you can see and examine them and know just what you are to get for your money. To do this, send a deposit large enough to cover express charges both ways, as you are to pay charges if goods are not taken. You can find out what this will be at the express office by stating weight of goods. The MERMAIDS and OTHER SMALL STUFF weigh about 40Ibs each in shipping box. YOU WILL FIND WEIGHT OF OTHER GOODS ON CIRCULAR.


The Nelson Supply House also sold complete exhibits. Which include the exhibit gaff, banner and outside spiel and inside lecture. Here is the lecture for King Mac-A-Dula...........



"Ladies and Gentlemen: The body of King Mac-A-Dula, the Patagonian Giant, was found in a cave in Patagonia, South America, by a party of English miners, while prospecting for gold. It is not an embalmed body preserved by an embalming process, but a natural-dried body preserved by the atmosphere of the country, which is high and dry. They have very little rain there. Sometimes not one shower in three years. Consequently the air is very dry and no flesh rots or decays there, but simply dries up, the same as you see this body, leaving nothing but the skin and bones but in nearly all cases the dead bodies of all kinds, animals or human, are either eaten or destroyed by animals. But this body, as I have informed you, was found in a cave the mouth to the cave being barred by large rocks, thus keeping the animals out and saving the body from being destroyed. It is supposed that he was wounded in battle and on being pursued he crawled in this cave to hide, closing the entrance up to keep the enemies out and while there he died unknown to his friends or tribe. He being a Patagonian Indian, scientists claim this happened years and years ago and that the body may have lain there for two hundred years or more, and it is certain that no man of this kind has lived there during the past one hundred years but the old inhabitants there tell a story of a great man that lived there centuries ago. King Mac-A-Dula, that he was nine feet high, had two heads, was as strong as an elephant, and a great warrior who led his tribe to many victories and that after one great battle he disappeared and was never seen or heard of again. This story has been handed down from one generation to another until the present day and when the body was found it was taken for granted this was the body of the man, King Mac-A-Dula who disappeared years ago. The body was found fourteen years ago and taken to England and placed on exhibition at the Crystal Palace. It is owned by a historical society of London and no amount of money can buy it, We simply rent it. The atmosphere in this country being so damp it begins to soften in places and we have to use artificial means to keep it preserved, touching it up occasionally with arsenic, pitch, corrosive sublimate, etc. and in this way it will last for years. Truly a wonderful curiosity, worth many times the price you have paid to see it, and I ask you as a favor to the management to please tell your friends about it. Thanking you for your kind attention I will ask you to look it over carefully and stay as long as you like."


This lecture was taken from The Nelson Supply House Latest List Number 4.


The Nelson Supply House was listed in the industrial histories of Massachusetts and first appeared in 1916. William Nelson was the contact person and the business was listed as selling Novelties. The Nelson Supply House last appeared in 1938 in the city directory and Michael Nelligan was listed then as the contact person. There was a later listing for a Nelson Novelty at 22 Scotia Street. I have no way of knowing if these are the same company or not.


John Robinson, Sideshow World


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