Why is it called a Jenny Lind Bed?
Jenny Lind is used to describe cottage-style spindled furniture, like what you often see on baby furniture.
This was some of the first mass produced furniture.
Foot pedal powered lathes had been used to turn wood for furniture for years, but around 1820 steam and water powered factories began to turn out spool-turned cottage furniture. By 1840, automation made this furniture very affordable.
Who was Jenny Lind?
Jenny Lind, was a Swedish opera singer, the “Swedish Nightingale”.
In 1850, P. T. Barnum coordinated a tour of the United States. Jenny Lind agreed, to earn money for charities she supported and to endow free education in Sweden.
Although she was already popular throughout Europe, Jenny Lind was not well known in the States. Barnum pulled out all the stops in 6 months of advance publicity, pumping up her celebrity status. Musical entertainment was not very popular in the States and was not at all classy. Barnum was going to change all this by promoting The Divine Jenny’s innocence, benevolence and brilliant voice.
As part of his promotion, he allowed her image to be used to market just about anything, without any payment, to increase her name recognition. By the time she arrived, 40,000 people showed up to greet the arrival of her ship. Appearances were so in demand, tickets were even auctioned to the highest bidder. The concert tour had more and more dates added across the United States and Canada. One concert was at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. If you tour the cave they will point out various cave features named for her.
The tour was extended to 93 concerts. Even after the amount to go to charity was renegotiated; Barnum profited by at least $500,000. Jenny Lind’s charities received about $350,000. This was primarily to Swedish schools, but she was also generous to various local charities and artists wherever her concerts were presented. She gave $5,000 to a photographer, Poly Von Schneidau, which he used to purchase the camera that later took the earliest known image of Abraham Lincoln.
So, why is it called a Jenny Lind bed?
I have found two explanations. Either could be correct.
One: PT Barnum promoted the image of Jenny Lind using this modest furniture as part of his promotion.
Its use for baby and children’s furniture further reinforced her innocent nature.
Two: Jenny Lind’s image was used to market this furniture (as well as anything else) to increase her name recognition.
Probably both explanations are true.