Have you ever heard of Jenny Haniver? Or more properly, have you ever heard of *a* Jenny Haniver? A Jenny Haniver is one of the earliest known gaffes. It is created by taking the desiccated and varnished body of a ray or a skate (a skate is for all intents and purposes a ray as well; we’re talking about fish here, not rays of light or roller skates or such) and altering it to resemble some mythical creature, sorta like a Feejee Mermaid. (Y’all *do* know what a Feejee Mermaid is, doncha?) Jenny Hanivers date back to at least the mid-1500s and were, in addition to people believing they were real, believed to possess magical powers. Ground-up for use in magic potions and slaves and such. How did these things come to be called “Jenny Hanivers”? The term is believed to be a corruption of the French “jeune fille d’Anvers.” But this last means the “young girl of Antwerp” or some such, and young girls from Antwerp were not, so far as I know, believed even by ignorant and superstitious French folks in the Middle Ages to be fantastical creatures. Thus I have no idea what the proposed connection is all about.
I saw a Jenny Haniver (pictured) for sale at the Oddities Market in Nashville, Tennessee recently. I exclaimed, “Oh, look, a Jenny Haniver.” To which the people with me promptly responded by asking who Jenny Haniver was, and was there more than one of them, since I referred to her as “a” Jenny Haniver. Being a little surprised that they didn’t know what one of these things was, I got to thinking. Perhaps there are others out there in the world that don’t know what they are, either. Hence this article.
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!