Giacomo and Giovanni Baptista Tocci, known as the Italian Two-headed Boy, were a popular attraction
throughout Europe and America from 1878 at the age of four months until
their retirement at the age of twenty in 1897.
The dicephalus conjoined twins were born in Locana, Italy, on 4 October 1877.
The twins being very small and their mother's pelvis rather
wide, there was little difficulty — other than emotional shock — in their
delivery. The boys had two heads and four perfectly formed arms, but were
joined together below the point of the sixth rib and so shared a single
lower torso and pelvis with two legs. Initially appalled by his children's appearance, Signor
Tocci soon realized his unique boys could serve as his family's breadwinners.
As the Tocci Brothers grew into healthy youngsters, despite all predictions
of an early death, it became apparent that each of the twins controlled
the leg on his side. Sadly, due to muscular atrophy and Giacomo's clubfoot,
they were unable to stand independently unless they could prop themselves
up with their arms. Lack of coordination prevented them from walking —
instead they crawled about with aid of all six limbs.
The Tocci Brothers — "The Greatest Wonder of Nature" — toured Europe and America
ceaselessly until they decided they'd had enough of the limelight and retired to Italy
to live life of seclusion in a villa near Venice. Rumors state that both boys may
have married and had children (which caused a flurry of sexual and legal speculation in French
and Italian newspapers), and that they may have still been living in seclusion
as late as 1940.
The American author Mark Twain used the Tocci Brothers as the inspiration
for his story Those Extraordinary Twins.
[To see more drawings from this series, please visit the Prodigies