In 1826 Johann Mälzel was amazing and mystifying he American public with his exhibition of the chess automation known as the Turk. Just a few years later, that same public would marvel at a living, sometimes chess-playing, phenomenon.
Signatures of Chang and Eng
"Though each has a distinct mind, yet their organization endows them with great sympathy, for they sleep nearly at the same time. They enjoy an excellent appetite, and are very vivacious. They walk with their arms twined around each other's necks like two friends. They play chess, and have often beaten strangers at this difficult game. They will also converse separately with different persons at the same time. One is named Chang, the other Eng; but they are frequently called together Chang-Eng." -The Pictorial Family Encyclopedia of History, Biography and Travels 1854
Their act was something of a marvel in itself. Chang-Eng, as they were often called, did acrobatics, somersaults, feats of both strentgh and intelligence. While their original managers took upto 90% of the profits for themselves, and traveled in first-class, resigning the twins to the freight area, once they broke free from that indentured servitude, they accumulated a small fortune from their hard work and frugality. In their act they tried to portray themselves as of one mind, but a very cultured one, offerering to play members of the audience games of chess, draughts or whist. Often, the twins were depicted with a chess or checker board.
"These exhibitions evolved through the years. At their first showing in Boston, a city of 61,000 residents in 1829, the twins simply stood on stage, demonstrated how they walk and run, and answered questions. Soon, they wowed audiences in Providence, R.I., with somersaults, backflips and a show of strength -- carrying the largest audience member, who weighed in at around 280 pounds. In England, Chang-Eng added a badminton-like game -- battledore and shuttlecock -- to the act." - Eng & Chang: a Hyphenated Life by Page Chichester
While no games scores have been passed down, we do know that chess was one of their hobbies that was often incorporated into their exhibition.
"If the audience was particulalry responsive, they would challenge members to a game of checkers or chess to demonstrate their intelligence." - New York Before Chinatown by John Kuo Wei Tchen
"Their mental operations were entirely distinct too, and in playing chess against an adversary, they consulted one another about the next move." - The Pictorial Cabinet of Marvels by Harrison Weir, 1878.
This 1830 lithograph depicts the twins with a checkerboard
This 1839 image from a souvenir postcard shows the twins with a chessboard.
Chang and Eng Bunker are buried in a church yard near Mt. Airy where they last lived.
The tragedy of their lives, although being conjoined twins might also be viewed as the means to a unique existance, was that they were joined together by a relatively small band of cartilage at their strenum. Their completely individual livers were hepatically connected and they shared a very minimum of blood. Today their separation would be a rather simple proceedure and even in those days a possible one.
Chang: Solution #1
Chang: Solution #2
Eng: Solution #1
Eng: Solution #2