Chang and Eng Bunker were born in Siam (now Thailand) of Chinese parents and brought to the United States at the age of 17 by sea captain Abel Coffin in 1829. Over the next decade they toured all over North America, Europe, the Caribbean and Central America. In 1832, the conjoined twins left Coffin and thereafter managed their own careers as a touring curiosity until they earned enough money to purchase a plantation in North Carolina and retired. Although they had minimal dealings with Barnum, he displayed a wax figure of the twins in the American Museum, published a pamphlet on their lives, and publicly associated himself with the brothers. This photograph shows them with their wives, the Yates sisters and two of their children.
In 1829 Chang and Eng, conjoined twins, were brought from Siam (now Thailand) to the United States to be displayed as a human curiosity by Abel Coffin, a sea caption. Although only 17 when they left Siam, Chang and Eng were successful entrepreneurs selling preserved duck eggs to support their family. After three years under the management of Coffin, the brothers took over their own careers and substantially changed their public. In pamphlets such as this one from 1834, Chang and Eng described their Siamese culture more than their physical uniqueness and countered the paternalistic story promoted by Coffin.
In New York they are admired for refunding the 50-cent admission price to patrons missing arms or legs. In Philadelphia a man squeezes Changâs hand too hard, and Chang decks him but avoids jail because Eng is innocent. In Alabama when a doctor dares to examine them on a public stage, Chang and Eng simultaneously punch him; both pay a fine.