Then we have Madame Tussaud’s waxwork show, the conspicuous red-brick building in Marylebone Road, famous for its handsome marble staircase that once adorned the late Baron Grant’s mansion at Kensington.
Tussaud’s has never ceased to draw visitors by thousands at all times of the year.
Indeed, London without it would lose half its attractiveness to residents as well as visitors.
Tussaud’s is too well known to require a description; but there are certain facts concerning it not entirely self-evident.
It is the largest show of the kind in the world, there being over five hundred figures on view.
Of these, the arms, legs, feet, and torso are made of carefully-modelled plaster; while the head, hands, arms, and bust are composed of specially-prepared wax.
An interesting fact about these figures is, that they are fully clothed underneath, in order to obtain the perfect fit and natural appearance of their garments.
The lords of creation wear pants, vests, etc, and are measured for them all.
The underwear of the gentler sex is like that of any up-to-date woman, and their wardrobe is renewed once a year; that of the inferior sex once in three years. In order to secure the favourite attitude and expression of the “living original,” before his presentment is undertaken he is closely watched for weeks at a time, every gesture, peculiarity, and physical characteristic being noted.
Once in every twenty-four hours the hair and beard of each figure in the show is combed and brushed by a barber; and every night the heads and hands are unscrewed from the bodies, and replaced in time for the “opening” at 10 am; while once in six weeks every figure is thoroughly cleansed and recoloured.
A strict watch is kept throughout the hours of darkness, lest thieves should break in and steal; for the value of the dresses, jewellery, and mementos is great; one character being said to bear upwards of £250 worth of ornament on her dress of state.
The average cost of a Court dress is £100, and that of the Empress Eugenie ran into close upon £700.
As a rule, the people treat these distinguished personages with respect.
Many of the visitors seem to think it a breach of etiquette to speak above a whisper in the presence of even a waxen Royalty.
Historically speaking, the most interesting part of the exhibition is the Napoleon room, regarding the authenticity of whose contents there can be no doubt.
The gruesome Chamber of Horrors may be dismissed with the statement that the guillotine is the one used at the decapitation of Queen Marie Antoinette and thousands of other victims of the Revolution.
It is a curious fact that members of the Royal family frequently go to Madame Tussaud’s and walk about unrecognized; but what they think of their “other selves” has been left unrecorded.