The largest box in the boxcar contained many small objects that appear to be targets for a shooting gallery or ball toss game. The name comes from a description given to the collection by the auctioneer who presided over the eventual sale of the contents of the boxcar. The largest collection of targets were lost in a barn fire on the auctioneer’s property.
The figures above and in the window come from a larger set found in the boxcar. They are assumed to be part of a collection of figures for a dark ride, but it has also been suggested that they could have been arranged in the seats of a theater, tent, or auditorium to provide an “audience” for the performer.
“This is generally assumed to be a “photo op” attraction. However, the slot in the front implies that some transaction could take place. Some who have reviewed the contents of the boxcar suggest that it was placed in the back of a darkened room or tent and an actor or fortune teller would pose behind it in order to interact with clients.”
At the opening, guests who inserted coins in the slot were rewarded with whispered fortunes that ranged from “you will be rich” to “you are in grave danger”.
The purpose of these framed portraits is not known. The latin names affixed to the frames suggests they were part of a larger educational exhibit; however, the collection is a curious mix of scientifically documented creatures and unproven cryptids.
Portrait Labels, Left To Right:
Vermis mors mongolis
Geospiza difficilis septentrionalis
Facticius piscsimian barnumensis
The name of these “masks” comes from a label affixed to the outside of the box in which they were found. The lack of holes for eyes or mouth would make them impractical for actual use by anyone, especially an acrobat. For this reason, they are assumed to be for decorative purposes only, or for use by a creature that does not need to see or breathe.
This is the article that sets the stage for the Goblin Circus show: a short mention in the Press & Argus about a mysterious boxcar found on an island in the middle of a lake south of Hell, MI.