"Another swindle. A tempting bait eagerly swallowed by a certain class is the penny show deception.
An empty shop in a busy street is generally selected, and a large gaudy painting of some impossible or improbable prodigy exhibited, while an individual who, gifted with a palavering tongue stands in the door entreating the passers-by to "walk up." The writer can call mind, when the Zulu war was at its height, seeing a show of this description, with an enormous painting two Zulus, "just arrived from the seat of war," hanging outside, and having his curiosity aroused speculated a penny.
Two big muscular fellows were being exhibited with all the paraphernalia of spears, shields, war paints, etc., and everyone present was under the impression they were seeing two "real, live Zulus," but as I was about to leave the show, I was surprised to hear one of the supposed Africans remark in unmistakeable Irish brogue, " Sure Micky, this is dhry wor-rk," nevertheless it was a clever swindle.
Sometimes a good pennyworth is offered, and genuine affairs, such as freaks of nature, can be seen, but a showman once remarked, " If they don't do any good, they don't do much harm."
Coventry Standard - Friday 25 October 1889