Matthias Buchinger (June 3, 1674 – 1740), sometimes called Matthew Buckinger in English, was a German artist, magician and illustrator, born without hands or legs.
He was born in Ansbach, Germany, without hands or lower legs. An artist and performer, he demonstrated his accomplishments at many courts and became known as the “Little Man from Nuremberg”. He travelled to England trying to get a court appointment with King George I, unsuccessful, he then moved to Ireland where he gave public demonstrations, thus in Dublin in 1720 and in Belfast in 1722. Buchinger was married four times and had at least fourteen children (by eight different women). He is also rumored to have children by as many as seventy mistresses. Buchinger’s fame was so widespread that in the 1780s the term “Buckinger’s boot” existed in England as a euphemism for the vagina (because the only “limb” he had was his penis). In addition to conjuring, Buchinger enjoyed a great reputation as an engraver and an artist. Buchinger died in Cork.
Despite having small, finlike appendages for hands, his engravings were incredibly detailed. One such engraving, a self portrait, was so detailed that a close examination of the curls of his hair revealed that they were in fact seven biblical psalms and the Lord’s Prayer, inscribed in miniature letters.
Despite his handicap Buchinger was an accomplished magician, causing balls to disappear from under cups and birds to appear from nowhere. It was also said that he was unbeatable at cards and would dazzle audiences with his amazing displays of marksmanship. Buchinger liked to build ships in a bottle. He had tremendous dexterity, in spite of his disability.
Buchinger’s musical skills included the ability to play a half-dozen musical instruments including the dulcimer, hautboy, trumpet, and flute, some of them he invented himself.