• Weird History

These Conjoined Twins Exploited Their Own Rare Condition To Get Rich And Completely Disappear

Conjoined twins have always fascinated people and the Tocci brothers were no different; what was unique about them, however, was how Giacomo and Giovanni Battista Tocci used their physical condition to achieve fame, make money, and then essentially disappear. These Italian conjoined twins toured Europe and made their way to the United States during the 1880s and 1890s, appearing before spectators and even inspiring Mark Twain to write a short story about them. They returned to Italy in the early 1900s and withdrew from the "freak show" world, becoming reclusive and generally fading into history. In the end, the Tocci twins were far from tragic, controlling their bodies and being "freaks" on their own terms.

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  • They Toured The United States For Five Years And Made Thousands

    In 1891, the Tocci brothers traveled to the United States to embark upon a one-year tour. They were so popular that they ended up staying for five years, visiting dime stores and sideshows around the country. They were called "The Two-Headed Boy" and "The Wonderful Blended Twins," as well as "The Greatest Human Phenomenon Ever Seen."

    They earned as much as $1,000 a week while touring and decided to extend their initial time in the United States for four additional years.

  • Photo: Jan Bondeson / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Toccis Used To Fist Fight With Each Other

    The boys generally got along and were said to "live on excellent terms with each other... unconscious of any misfortune in their condition." When they did have disagreements, they would fist fight with each other to settle a dispute. The physical strength of each boy differed, with Giacomo having a club foot and Giovanni being more developed and erect, but it's unclear if this factored into their brawls. 

  • The Twins May Have Married A Pair Of Sisters

    After years of touring Europe and the United States, Giacomo and Giovanni returned to Italy in 1897 and retired to a villa in Venice. There are differing accounts about how they lived at their villa because they were so reclusive, but in 1904, there were media accounts that they each got married. They may have wed a set of sisters.

    The fact that they married at all was controversial, given they had only one set of genitalia. Some called their wives "vulgar curiosity seekers."

  • Photo: Wellcome Images / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0

    The Twins Toured For The First Two Decades Of Their Lives

    Within weeks of their birth, the Tocci twins were put on display in Turin, Italy. The attention they received led to numerous medical examinations as well as pictures and drawings of their anatomy. After time in France and Switzerland, they went on to appear in Poland, Austria, and Germany. They were exhibited almost daily, seven hours a day, and were were billed as "The Greatest Wonder of Nature."