Advertisements - Barnum Museum

Advertisement: P.T. Barnum's Hippodrome at Back Bay in Boston
Newspaper advertisement for P. T. Barnum's Great Roman Hippodrome opening at the Back Bay in Boston, Massachusetts, and stated to "occupy four blocks." This item may have been printed as a newspaper insert, though the particular newspaper is unknown. It includes the program for August 3, 1874. The four-page document is largely composed of advertisements for a diverse array of products, from clothing to pianos and window shades, but also contains an enlightening column written by Barnum himself (page 2). In it he discusses the reasons behind his "bigger and better" approach, viewed by others as very risky, his desire to provide moral entertainment to the masses, and his view of himself as a reformer. The year, 1874, is early in his circus career, having entered into partnerships with William C. Coup and Dan Castello just three years before. Prior to his involvement with the circus, he was the proprietor of Barnum's American Museum, located on Broadway in New York City, from 1842 to 1868. The top of the page features an illustration of the Hippodrome itself, showing an elongated oval surrounded by spectators in the stands. The Hippodrome was said to accommodate a crowd of 10,000. Horses and chariots are shown racing around the oval track, and separately, another group of racing horses that may be the famous stallions Barnum advertised. The main text on the front page lists all of the acts that were part of The Great Congress of Nations. Barnum acquired this "spectacle" show from George Sanger of Sanger's Great London Circus.
Broadside: "'$1,500,000! in Challenges' - P.T. Barnum to the Public"
Illustrated broadside announcing P. T. Barnum's challenges to his competitors, totaling $1,500,000, as well as promoting his traveling show of wild animals, performers, musicians, talking machines and automatons, and much more. The broadside is dated April 7, 1873, an early time period in Barnum's circus enterprises. The main title of the broadside is "$1,500,000! in Challenges - P.T. Barnum to the Public." The challenges were initiated, according to the text, because a number of Barnum's competitors were copying him, and/or claiming to offer shows equal to his. The challenges, numbering 47, offer varying reward amounts, most $10,000. In addition to promoting what the public would see, the challenge descriptions reveal some "behind-the-scenes" information about Barnum's operations, for example, that his performers received "more salaries than two of the best circuses in America," and that neither he nor his competitors could offer an aquarium, so that all such claims by others were false as a traveling aquarium would be virtually impossible to maintain. He refers to his aquarium (at the former American Museum) being the first and that it was difficult to maintain even in a stationary setting. Among the notable attractions named are little person Admiral Dot (Leopold Kahn), and Professor Faber's talking machine. At the end of the three-column text block, Barnum's signature appears above the place and date: "435[?] Fifth Avenue, New York, April 7, 1873." A large black and white illustration at the top provides a fanciful and grandiose view of Barnum in the clouds, his hand extended as if presenting his show as a gift. Titles included in the illustration are "The World in Contribution," and "Curiosities Arriving." To the left, a corner of Barnum's former American Museum is shown. To the right is a distant view showing the circus traveling by train, and beyond it, a landscape with Native American teepees, and an ocean crowded with sailing ships. Beneath Barnum there is an unusual "scene" shows a disproportionate line up of many types of wild animals, African natives in tribal garb, human curiosities, and performers. Several individual illustrations extend down the left side and along the bottom of the broadside. These include an automaton; a bearded lady; a goat riding a horse; a miniature coach and horses; performers on stage; and an assortment of wild animals. Along the top edge of the broadside are listed the places and dates where the show would next be presented, all towns in Connecticut: Norwalk on Monday, April 21; Bridgeport on Tuesday, April 22; Waterbury on Wednesday, April 23; and New Haven on Thursday April 24 and Friday April 25. The same broadside would have been used for other venues during the 1873 circus season, with the appropriate dates and locations printed at the top. Printed by the Torrey Brothers, Printers, 13 Spruce Street, New York. Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that bore his name, but his circus ventures came about when he was in his 60s. The first show was called P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations, and the intake was significant. Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses. A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus. Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum and Bailey circus. The name remained until 1919 when it became the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus.
Broadside: "Barnum's Museum on New Year's Day, 1862"
Black and white broadside advertising events at Barnum's Museum on New Year's Day, January 1, 1862.  Broadsides are an early form of poster, often smaller than modern day posters, and usually printed in black and white or with a minimal amount of coloring.  This relatively small broadside is densely printed with information, and contains illustrations, and several titles in bold lettering. Barnum's Museum was famous for its wide variety of exhibits, including large wild animals as well as an array of performers, and displays of curiosities from around the world, promoted on this broadside as a Grand Galaxy of Novelties and Wonders.   The broadside advertises "Splendid Performances nearly every hour" of a holiday fairy piece called "Ondina!" or the "Spirit of the Water."  Ondina and her Bower of Beauty were a spectacular mechanical scene stated to have cost $7000 and to be unequaled by any other Fairy Production in the city--and therefore not to be missed. The broadside also features the Living Whale, the Living Hippopotamus.  Among the other animals to be seen at the museum were 200 performing white rats, monster snakes, and a mammoth Grizzly Bear named Samson.  The Happy Family was a well-known display of prey and predators, seemingly content with one another, the predators having been well fed prior to being placed with prey animals.  Admission to the museum is noted as 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children under 10 years of age.  The best seats in Barnum's lecture room--a theater by another name--cost 15 cents extra.  Included at the bottom in small type is an announcement of regular Sunday services given by the City's Christian Alliance in Barnum's lecture room at 3 p.m., which people could attend free of charge.  Printed by Herald Print.   Barnum's American Museum was located at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street in New York City from 1841 to 1865 when it was destroyed by a fire.  Barnum then moved to 539-541 Broadway until that building, too, was destroyed by a fire in 1868.  The displays in the museum ranged from dioramas of places such as Niagara falls and the American plains, to various wild animals living and stuffed, wax figure tableaux, individual performers, theatrical performances, inventions, scientific specimens, and curious artifacts.   Barnum included what were called humbugs--done in the spirit of fun, unlike hoaxes--and invited the public to decide for themselves if they were genuine or not.  Barnum's agents combed the world for new attractions, so that visitors could always expect to see new things.  The museum's long-time superintendent was John Greenwood, who, like Barnum, hailed from Bethel, Connecticut.
Broadside: "General Tom Thumb, Man in Miniature, arriving in Exeter"
Broadside advertising the appearance of General Tom Thumb, "Man in Miniature" at the Town Hall in Exeter, [New Hampshire], on Monday, October 23 and "positively no longer." The year is calculated to be 1848. Broadsides are the ancestors of posters, and in the 1700s and 1800s they were a common way of publicly announcing news and events, as well as advertising as done here. Broadsides usually contain more text than pictures and are printed in black ink, unlike posters, which are typically colorful, with a dominant image or design. No printer's name is listed on this broadside; the light brown color of the paper is due to age and was probably closer to white originally. General Tom Thumb was the stage name for Charles S. Stratton, a little person performer who worked for P. T. Barnum. His weight is advertised as 15 pounds and his height as 28 inches, about 4 inches taller than when Barnum first met him in late 1842. Stratton would have been 10 3/4 years old at the time of this advertisement even though it is stated as 16. Barnum did this intentionally to make Stratton’s small stature seem all the more impressive to audiences. His appearances are advertised as levees (or receptions), and he was scheduled to do three levees on October 23: late morning, late afternoon, and early evening, each one 1 1/2 hours long. Admission is noted as 25 cents for adults, and half price for children under 10. This broadside includes two illustrations. The top one is an imaginary scene showcasing Tom Thumb’s characters, some posed as Grecian statues and others in various costumes as the Little General, Napoleon Bonaparte, Frederick the Great, and in Scotch Costume, and Court Dress. The audience is an assemblage of the nobility and heads of state whom Stratton had met on his three-year tour of Europe with P. T. Barnum in the mid-1840s. The bottom illustration shows Stratton alongside his miniature carriage and ponies, called by its French term "equipage," while an admiring audience of ladies and gentlemen look on. The equipage is noted to have been a gift of Queen Victoria. Charles S. Stratton (January 4, 1838 - July 15, 1883) was an entertainer who got his start with P. T. Barnum in the 1840s. Stratton's parents signed him with Barnum when the boy was barely five years old. The family went to live in New York City where Stratton performed at Barnum's American Museum, located on Broadway at Ann Street. The little boy took quickly to performing, and on tours he entertained audiences worldwide, including royalty. Stratton's performances brought him renown, becoming one of the biggest celebrities at the time, and considerable wealth. In 1863, Stratton married fellow performer and little person M. Lavinia Warren; the two had a happy marriage and continued touring and performing. On July 15,1883, Stratton suffered a stroke and passed away. He is buried at Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Courier: Advance Courier of Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth and the Great London Circus for May 18, 1881
Promotional newspaper titled "Advance Courier of PT Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth, & the Great London Circus, Sanger's Royal British Menagerie and Grand International Allied Shows At New Haven, [Connecticut], Wednesday, May 18th.” The 16-page newsprint publication was printed for the 1881 circus season with a blank space along the bottom edge where the various venues and dates could be added in. The elaborately designed black and white cover features portraits of Barnum, Bailey, and Hutchinson, ringed by numerous embellishments. Barnum is featured in the center, above the others, in a larger oval. Ribbon banners promote the partners' $3,000,000 investment, and the daily expense of $4500, and proclaim the four combined shows to be the best. Inside, the courier contains dense text promoting all of the acts and wonders presented at the circus. Illustrations include Chang the "Chinese Giant" towering over a crowd while holding a normal-sized person in one hand and a pocket watch in the other; elephants against a backdrop of Southeast Asian inspired buildings; Charles S. Stratton (General Tom Thumb) and M. Lavinia Warren meeting Queen Victoria; a giant steer; a giant horse; twenty "educated" stallions performing tricks in a circus ring; racing camels; a cage of large snakes; two giant black camels; Madame Dockrill and her horses; chariots; several elephants performing tricks while acrobats leap and tumble over them; a giant rhinoceros in the process of being captured; a giraffe in a harness; and Miss Emma Lake on the back of a rearing horse. The back cover also features Chang, along with illustrations of a steer, a horse, sea lion, camels, a rhinoceros, and an ostrich, also all billed as "giant." Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that bore his name, but his circus ventures came about when he was in his 60s. The first show was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations, and the intake was significant. Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus. Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. Ringling Bros. purchased Barnum & Bailey following Bailey's death in 1906 and operated the two circuses separately until 1919. The two were combined to become Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. The last performance was on May 21, 2017.
Courier: P. T. Barnum's Centennial Advanced Daily
Promotional newspaper, called a courier, for  P. T. Barnum's Centennial show.  The United States Centennial celebrated one hundred years since America's declaration of independence from Great Britain.   The cover features Barnum's name in large, decorative lettering above a portrait of the showman.  Patriotic symbols are almost always seen in Barnum's promotional literature, but in this case the inclusion of flags, an eagle, and shields also reinforce the Centennial theme, as does the color printing.  A banner in the center of the page titled Advance Daily separates the patriotic design in the top half from the assortment of wild animals illustrating the lower half of the cover.  Among the animals are two hippos, lions, a rhinocerous, giraffe, elephant, polar bear, ostrich, snake, zebra, tiger, monkey, and others.  Above the lower margin, a banner states the courier's circulation to be 2,000,000 and the price five cents per copy.   The contents of this sixteen-page courier include a lengthy introduction written by P. T. Barnum himself in which he provides the names of his staff and an extensive descriptive text of the wonders to be seen in his circus.  There are many illustrations of the show's features, such as: a giraffe towering over two men; two hippos on the banks of the Nile river; sea lions; a warthog; a zebra; a tapir; a lion; a horned horse from Ethiopia; a black-horned rhino in a cage being pulled by a team of horses; another giraffe; a polar bear; a Bengal tiger; an Asiatic elephant; an ostrich; so-called Fiji cannibals; little person performer Admiral Dot (Leopold Kahn); and additional scenes from within the circus tent.  The back of the courier features a full page illustration of the Founding Fathers of America signing the Declaration of Independence.  Couriers were distributed in advance of the circus's arrival in town in order to promote ticket sales. Thus advertising that contained full descriptions of the show and plenty of illustrations increased the public's excitement and anticipation, and helped to ensure a large audience.  Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that bore his name, but his circus ventures came about in the early 1870s when he was in his 60s.  The first show was called "P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus."  Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations and far more people, and the intake was significant.  Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts.  In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses.  A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus.  Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth.  After Barnum's death in 1891, Bailey contineud to operate the circus.  After his death in 1906, Ringling Brothers bought the business and operated it separately from the Ringling circus for over ten years.  The name remained until 1919 when the two circuses were combined to become Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.  It came to an end in May 2017 when the circus ceased performances after 146 years.
Courier: P. T. Barnum's Illustrated News, Hartford, Connecticut, May 5, 1880
Promotional newspaper, called a courier, advertising Barnum's show in Hartford, Connecticut, on Wednesday, May 5, 1880. Couriers were used to announce and advertise the arrival of the circus before it was in town. Some were the size of newspapers and many pages long. This courier is titled "P. T. Barnum's Illustrated News" and features a large portrait of Barnum with partial views of the globe at each corner. The globes are titled America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Barnum frequently emphasized the international make-up of his offerings to imply that people would learn about the world by attending his shows. The courier's black and white cover is handsomely designed with the graphic motifs typical of the 1880s. The top margin of the cover was left blank to be printed with the various venues and dates on the circus route for the season. Inside, the courier begins with an introduction from Barnum boasting of the new improvements to his show since the previous year. Other pages include extensive descriptions of the various circus acts and attractions, with illustrations. The descriptive text is laden with hyperbole intended to lure people to buy their tickets and see the show. Illustrations include the new exotic animals; the famous performer "Zazel the human cannonball" being launched from a cannon; a group of Zulus and their chief; a group of performing oxen; a parade float pulled by stallions; the great golden organ of Vienna; a trained stag named Landseer; six "Trakene" stallions; additional trained stallions, Madame Nelson and her flight of trained doves; Madam Dockrill and her horse act; acts in the Traveling Museum including sea lions and giants. The back cover includes a depiction of Miss Emma Lake, billed as "America's Side-Saddle Queen." Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that bore his name, but his circus ventures came about when he was in his 60s. The first show was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach more locations, and people. Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. Barnum and his partners invested heavily to make their shows the best, and they were highly profitable despite fierce competition. In the 1880s, he countered some of the competition by forming mergers. Barnum’s show merged with the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson to become the Barnum and London Circus. Various other circus components were also featured or "united" as was frequently stated, all to live up to the name of being the Greatest Show on Earth. Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey circus. Bailey continued to manage the circus after Barnum's death in 1891, and after Bailey's death in 1906, Ringling Brothers purchased the company. The two circuses were operated separately until 1919, when they were combined to become Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. After 146 years, the circus gave its last performances in May 2017.
Courier: P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth in London, November 11, 1889
Advance promotional advertising newspaper, called a courier, for P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth opening at Olympia, Kensington, London on November 11, 1889. The cover is printed in color, predominantly orange and yellow with black, and features portraits of P.T. Barnum and J. A. Bailey on the top left and right sides respectively. Between them, the symbols of America, an eagle perched atop a shield with the American flag, are proudly displayed. In the eagle's beak is a banner that reads "truthful moral instruction." Barnum always emphasized the quality of entertainment he offered, aiming to appeal to family audiences. The lower portion of the cover art is dominated by scenes from Imre Kiralfy's "Nero; or the Destruction of Rome" including gladiator fights, foot races, wrestling, and horse racing. The performance was an extravaganza on a large scale, a spectacular andunforgettable event. The text in two black circles on the center left and right hand sides describes the other acts to be seen in the circus. Inside, throughout the text there are descriptions of the various acts and performances. These alternate with bold type both in red ink and black ink, meant to draw readers' eyes to particular attractions. The courier also contains many illustrations, such as horse racing in the hippodrome; the hall of supernatural illusions with crowds passing by the exhibits; sea lions performing with their trainers; a troupe of educated bears; the Yankee farmer's trained steers; four superb trained elks; Bo-peep and her flock of trained sheep; a company of educated pigs and monkeys being lead by clowns; a two-page fully colored spread dedicated to showing the great procession of Emperor Nero in Imre Kiralfy's "Nero; or the Destruction of Rome"; the interior of the hall that houses "living human curiosities" and features various little people, giants, and other performers; three illustrations of Jumbo the Elephant that include him being struck by a train, his mounted skeleton, and his mounted hide; a long team of horses being driven by a single rider; acrobats; six trained stallions rearing up on their hind legs; seven trained elephants rearing up on their hind legs; a number of horses and their trainer; and two jockeys racing against each other while standing astride two horses. The back cover, also in color, features illustrations of the animal acts, the human acts, acrobats, the hall of illusions, and depiction of chariot races rounding a corner while one of the three circus rings has acrobats performing within. Placed in the center of the program is a simple black circle that reads "P. T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth." Imre Kiralfy (originally Königsbaum) (January 1845-April 28, 1919) was a Hungarian born producer of spectacles, with a number of his elaborate productions being put on by the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. Originally working to produce shows with his brother Bolossy, the two put on what were known as spectacles - elaborately staged multi-media productions with music, lavish costuming, massive sets, dancing, extensive use of the new electrical lighting, and minimal emphasis on dialogue. The two had a successful partnership, but split in 1887 after a falling out for reasons unknown. Imre went on to produce shows like "Nero; or the Fall of Rome," "Columbus and the Discovery of America" and "The Fall of Babylon" that toured as a part of the Barnum & Bailey's show. Kiralfy died in Brighton, England, on April 28, 1919. Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that still bears his name, but his circus ventures came about in the early 1870s when he was in his 60s. The first show was called "P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus." Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations and far more people, and the intake was significant. Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses. A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus. Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. After Barnum's death in 1891, Bailey contineud to operate the circus. After his death in 1906, Ringling Brothers bought the business and operated it separately from their own for over ten years. The name remained until 1919 when the two circuses were combined to become Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. It came to an end in May 2017 when the circus ceased performances after 146 years.
Courier: The Barnum and Bailey 15 New United Shows for Monday, April 22, 1889
Promotional newspaper, called a courier, printed for The Barnum & Bailey 15 United Shows taking place on April 22, 1889 in Brooklyn, New York. The front cover of the 16-page item features portraits of P. T. Barnum and James A. Bailey at the top, with a center design between them featuring a lion under a horseshoe, with a tiger and horse on either side. A banner proclaims The World in Contribution above a large image of a globe. The cover design is heavily weighted with text, making use of every square inch to promote the attractions of the circus, the large sum of money invested in it, and its Paris Olympia Hippodrome. The lower part of the cover features an illustration of horse riders in Arabian clothing, and in the bottom corners, illustrations of an elephant and hippo. The back cover includes color illustrations of the "wild Moorish caravan," Paris Olympia Hippodrome, "40 Supernatural Illusions," and "Ten Acres of Stupendous Tents." Inside the courier there are numerous advertisements for the acts, along with illustrations. Portions of the text are printed in red ink to emphasize their importance. The cover is marked at bottom "Corner Sumner and Putnum Avenues, Brooklyn, one week commencing Monday April 22." The cover was designed with the blank margin at the bottom so that at each venue, the location and date information could be changed. Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that bore his name, but his circus ventures came about when he was in his 60s. The first show was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations, and the intake was significant. Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus. Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. Ringling Bros. purchased Barnum & Bailey following Bailey's death in 1906 and operated the two circuses separately until 1919. The two were combined to become Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. The last performance was on May 21, 2017.
Handbill: "Barnum & London 10 Greatest Shows on Earth"
Handbill for Barnum & London's "10 Greatest Shows on Earth," promoting a circus show to take place in Reading [Pennsylvania] on Wednesday, May 25, 1887. A handbill is similar in concept to a modern day flyer, although in this case the tall, narrow proportion is quite different from today's usual 8.5 by 11-inch page. The two-sided handbill advertises the Strange Hairy Family of Burma; a three-ring circus show; the Roman Hippodrome; Captain Paul Boyton, a "heroic life-saver and inventor"; a "jumbo" herd of elephants; the "historic" display of Jumbo the Elephant's remains; and the elephant Alice, Jumbo's so-called widow. The black and white handbill includes detailed illustrations at the top and bottom. The upper illustration shows Maphoon and her son Moung-Phoset, who were billed as the Strange Hairy Family of Burma, standing before their Burmese king. The illustration in the lower third is a grim depiction of Jumbo being hit by a train, the tragic event that ended his life in 1885. In the center of the handbill, a decoratively arranged block of text is designed with the text set in four directions to create the appearance of four triangles. At the center of the text block is a circle advertising Captain Boyton's name in bold letters and describing his aquatic adventures. The illustrations and text on the reverse side of the handbill are unknown to the time this description has been written (2017), since the piece is framed. This promotional piece employs over-the-top, boastful descriptions--the kind of hyperbolic language that Barnum's circus promoter, R. F. "Tody" Hamilton, was known for, and possibly this is an example of his work. In addition to highlighting the performers and "1000 Rare and All-Amazing Sights," the handbill describes the enormous scale of the enterprise as "3000 Honest Tons of Purest Entertainment Under Ten Acres of Stupendous Tents." The printer of the handbill is The Courier Company, Buffalo, NY; the name faintly shows through from the back side of the page. P. T. Barnum is best known today for the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but his circus ventures did not come about until he was in his early 60s. His first circus, in the early 1870s, was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Barnum subsequently opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, competition from other circuses increased. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the circus called Barnum & London. America's new and ever-growing railroad system propelled the circus to success, making it possible to add destinations and reach distant locations, as well as transport many more circus wagons, animals, equipment, tent canvas, performers and support staff. Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey in 1887 formed Barnum & Bailey, which continued to be managed by Bailey after Barnum's death in 1891. After Bailey's death in 1906, the Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey and operated it separately from their own circus. In 1919 the two were combined to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. That circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Handbill: "Barnum and London 9-Married Monster Shows"
Handbill for "Barnum and London 9-Married Monster Shows," dating to about 1885. The tall, narrow handbill, like a small poster, promotes the Ethnological Congress of Strange Savage Tribes; Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Russian Boy; the Sacred White Elephant; a Hindoo [Hindu] Serpent Charmer; scenes of the Wild West, and an animal parade. Black and white illustrations show an elephant towering over horses and circus carriages in a city square; Nala Damajanti the Hindoo (Hindu) Serpent Charmer surrounded by snakes; Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Russian Boy in an interior home setting; a stage coach chase from the wild west; and an encampment with Anglo-Americans and Native Americans setting up camp together. The text employs over-the-top, boastful descriptions--the kind of hyperbolic language that Barnum's circus promoter, R. F. "Tody" Hamilton, was known for; possibly this is an example of his work. The handbill describes the enormous scale of Barnum's enterprise, announcing that it required a "solid mile of railroad cars" to transport, weighed a "bulky" 2000 tons, and that its circus tents covered 10 acres. It also notes that "absolutely and most truly, [that] this is the last American tour of the Greatest Show that ever was, or ever will be and the final close of the Great Manager's half a century reign" and that all should "come one, come all, and say good-bye to Barnum." This advice was most likely a ploy to get people to buy tickets since Barnum's circus continued for years. The dates and locations for this show are not given on the handbill, however, the printer's location was in Philadelphia, so the show may have been in that vicinity. P. T. Barnum is best known today for the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but his circus ventures did not come about until he was in his early 60s. His first circus, in the early 1870s, was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Barnum subsequently opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, competition from other circuses increased. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the circus called Barnum & London. America's new and ever-growing railroad system propelled the circus to success, making it possible to add destinations and reach distant locations, as well as transport many more circus wagons, animals, equipment, tent canvas, performers and support staff. Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey in 1887 formed Barnum & Bailey, which continued to be managed by Bailey after Barnum's death in 1891. After Bailey's death in 1906, the Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey and operated it separately from their own circus. In 1919 the two were combined to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. That circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Handbill: "Barnum and London 9 United Monster Shows in Haverhill, July 7"
Handbill promoting Barnum and London 9 United Monster Shows, performing in Haverhill [Massachusetts], on [Monday,] July 7, [1884]. A handbill is similar in concept to a modern day flyer, although in this case the tall, narrow proportion is quite different from today's usual 8.5 by 11-inch page. This handbill advertises the extraordinary variety and sheer quantity of performers, acts, and attractions that made Barnum’s circuses so famous. To entice people to purchase tickets, this promotional piece employs over-the-top, boastful descriptions--the kind of hyperbolic language that Barnum's circus promoter, R. F. "Tody" Hamilton, was known for, and possibly this is an example of his work. The show itself is described as “the most elaborate, stupendous and marvelous array of Circus Sensation, Arenic and Extraordinary Talent ever gathered in one mighty combination.” In addition to highlighting the Ethnological Congress of Savage Tribes, the handbill describes “a mazy net-work of Silvery Wires, Waving Ropes, Trapeze Bars, Flying Rings and Glittering Trappings for Mid-Air Acts [in the] Lofty Dome of the Great Tent.” Performers included jugglers, gymnasts, clowns, tumblers, bareback riders and others. Also featured in the show were chariot races, “ludicrous, comical obstacle races,” wrestling matches, boxing bouts, and “Gladiatorial Feats of Strength.” In addition to a variety of horse races there were ostrich races, and even pelican races. Human curiosities named as part of the Museum of Strange and Living Curiosities include Chang, the Chinese Giant, the Tallest, Largest, and most phenomenal big man since the days of Goliath; Major Atom, the Smallest Man Alive; Admiral Dot, the Midget Actor, Elfin Orator and Pantomimist; Living Skeletons; Fat Women; Armless Men; Men without Legs; White Moors; Tattooed Martyrs; and Wild Men. The illustrations depict the “savage tribes;” Leopold S. Kahn, a little person billed as Admiral Dot in various characters; a horse race; a battle in which warriors are astride giraffes rather than horses; and most notably in the center of the handbill, a scene in a park, in which people in a horse-drawn carriage are transported underneath a monumental “arch” which is a very large African elephant. Presumably this is meant to be Jumbo the elephant, although his name does not appear on the handbill. The handbill is two-sided, however the content from the front only is included in this record. The handbill was produced by James Reilley, Printer and Engraver, 12, 14, and 16 Spruce Street, New York. The date was determined by researching circus route books to find the year when Barnum & London was in Haverhill, Mass. on July 7. P. T. Barnum is best known today for the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but his circus ventures did not come about until he was in his early 60s. His first circus, in the early 1870s, was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Barnum subsequently opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, competition from other circuses increased. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the circus called Barnum & London. America's new and ever-growing railroad system propelled the circus to success, making it possible to add destinations and reach distant locations, as well as transport many more circus wagons, animals, equipment, tent canvas, performers and support staff. Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey in 1887 formed Barnum & Bailey, which continued to be managed by Bailey after Barnum's death in 1891. After Bailey's death in 1906, the Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey and operated it separately from their own circus. In 1919 the two were combined to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. That circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Handbill: "Barnum and London, Barnum Returns No More"
Handbill promoting “The Great and Ever Growing” Barnum and London, 9 United Monster Shows, to be presented at Haverhill, [Massachusetts] on Saturday, June 27, [1885]. The title also announces, “Barnum Returns No More,” and in a sub-heading, states that this show will be his “Greeting and Farewell to his American Patrons.” A handbill is similar in concept to a modern day flyer, although in this case the tall, narrow proportion is quite different from today's usual 8.5 by 11-inch page. To entice people to purchase tickets, this promotional piece employs over-the-top, boastful descriptions--the kind of hyperbolic language that Barnum's circus promoter, R. F. "Tody" Hamilton, was known for, and possibly this is an example of his work. The heading at the top of characterizes the show as, “Beyond the Scope of Vision or Description.” The illustration at the top center is a portrait of P. T. Barnum, and to the right, a “message” from Barnum explaining that the “amusement seeking people of Europe DEMAND” an opportunity of seeing his show, by way of explaining why Barnum & London will no longer be seen on American soil. The main illustration depicts Jumbo the Elephant with his keeper Mathew Scott. The headline above the illustration announces that both Jumbo and “Toung Taloung,” also known as the Sacred White Elephant, will appear. Columns on either side of the Jumbo picture tout the show’s innumerable features and promote four performers in particular: Jo-Jo the Dog Faced Boy (Fedor Jeftichew); Arda; Miramba; and Moung-Bok. Other attractions (“100 Acts” and “1000 Wonders”) such as museums, parades, bands, and hippodromes are all promoted as bigger and better than ever. The handbill was printed by Morrell Brothers Show Printers, 212 to 224 Carter St. Philadelphia. The handbill is two-sided, however the information from the front side only is included in this record. P. T. Barnum is best known today for the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but his circus ventures did not come about until he was in his early 60s. His first circus, in the early 1870s, was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Barnum subsequently opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, competition from other circuses increased. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the circus called Barnum & London. America's new and ever-growing railroad system propelled the circus to success, making it possible to add destinations and reach distant locations, as well as transport many more circus wagons, animals, equipment, tent canvas, performers and support staff. Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey in 1887 formed Barnum & Bailey, which continued to be managed by Bailey after Barnum's death in 1891. After Bailey's death in 1906, the Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey and operated it separately from their own circus. In 1919 the two were combined to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. That circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Handbill: "Barnum's American Museum, Christmas and New Year Holiday Bill"
Handbill for Barnum's American Museum, featuring the Christmas and New Year holiday entertainments possibly for December 1863 to January 1864. A handbill is similar in concept to a modern day flyer. Featured on the handbill are a great "living whale" from off the coast of Labrador; a "living hippopotamus" brought from the Nile River; 200 "educated" white rats; an aquarial garden; and the "happy family" of prey and predators; as well as "monster snakes", and a trained seal. The seal mentioned is likely Barnum's famous attraction, Ned the Learned Seal, who performed a wide variety of tricks. The handbill also promotes dramatic performances, and Odina’s Bower of Beauty, which was an elaborate set of automations and mechanical scenery. Illustrations include a beluga whale and a hippopotamus, along with the "Bower of Beauty" scene or "Home of the Fairies" depicting "Nymphs in the Air." The admission price is noted as 25 cents for adults, and 15 cents for children under ten years of age. The black and white handbill was printed by Wynkoop, Hallenbeck & Thomas, Book and Job Printers, 115 Fulton Street, N.Y. No date is printed on the paper, however the date 1864 is pencilled in at the bottom. Barnum's museum was located at the corner of Broadway and Ann Street in New York City. In December of 1841 he purchased what had been Scudder's Museum, and opened it as Barnum's American Museum in 1842. The displays in the museum ranged from dioramas of places such as Niagara Falls and the American plains; live animals including whales, seals, hippotami; wax figure tableaux; inventions; scientific specimens; artwork; and historical and curious artifacts. The museum also presented lectures and "people in the news," theatrical performances, and concerts. Among the thousands of displays, Barnum included a few of what were then called humbugs, or hoaxes, but always invited the public to decide for themselves if the displays were genuine or not. The most famous of these was the FeJee Mermaid. The American Museum and its contents were destroyed by fire in 1865, with Ned the Learned Seal being the only non-human attraction to survive. Barnum moved to 539-541 Broadway and reopened in the fall of 1865, but that building too was destroyed by a fire in March of 1868. Barnum did not attempt to open a third museum building, however, in his subsequent enterprises with traveling shows, he always included a "museum" in addition to the menagerie (wild animals) and circus.
Handbill: "P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth, The Great London Circus, and Sanger's Royal British Menagerie 7 Monster Shows"
Handbill advertising the combined shows of P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth, the Great London Circus, and Sanger's Royal British Menagerie, and Grand International Allied Shows for their seven united monster shows. Handbills, which are similar in concept to modern-day flyers, were used to publicize events from the 1700s into the early 1900s. The heading at the top of this handbill states, "Larger than any other 10 [shows] combined." P.T. Barnum, J. A. (James Anthony) Bailey, and J. L. (James) Hutchinson are named as the "sole owners." The handbill includes four illustrations and a lot of text, all printed in black, some of it printed sideways to frame the illustrations. The illustrations are: centered in the upper half, a portrait of P.T. Barnum; in the center, a baby elephant and its mother; in the lower half, two smaller illustrations, including one of a four-legged girl and the other of two women each riding two horses. The text promotes "The Revival of P.T. Barnum's Great Roman Hippodrome"; "Baby Bridgeport," a baby elephant born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on February 2, 1882; Zazel, the Woman Cannon Ball; Myrtle Cobin, the four-legged girl; Brustad, the Norwegian giant; Lulu, the Winged Meteor; Che-mah, the rebel Chinese dwarf; Major Atom, the midget man; Madam Dockrill; William Dutton; and Santa Claus giving out Christmas gifts. Other text describes the components of the Roman Hippodrome and its grand show of "Reflex of the Glories of Cesar's Period." Also promoted is "The Wild Indian Lover's Ride for a Wife by a Whole Tribe of Sitting Bull's Sioux Warrior Savages." No dates are given for the show, nor is the location listed. Possibly the time of year was in late fall, since the procession description mentions Santa Claus. No printer name is included. P. T. Barnum is best known today for the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but his circus ventures did not come about until he was in his early 60s. His first circus, in the early 1870s, was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Barnum subsequently opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, competition from other circuses increased. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the circus called Barnum & London. America's new and ever-growing railroad system propelled the circus to success, making it possible to add destinations and reach distant locations, as well as transport many more circus wagons, animals, equipment, tent canvas, performers and support staff. Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey in 1887 formed Barnum & Bailey, which continued to be managed by Bailey after Barnum's death in 1891. After Bailey's death in 1906, the Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey and operated it separately from their own circus. In 1919 the two were combined to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. That circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Handbill: "The Annex to P.T. Barnum's Great Show: A Palace of Wonders"
Handbill promoting "The Annex" to P. T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth, managed by the Bunnell Brothers. The date of the handbill is believed to be 1877, since it was that year the Bunnell Brothers managed this addition to Barnum's show. The long narrow paper is printed on both sides, and includes many bold headlines and several illustrations, including some that are racist, though not have been unusual in that time period. In the upper portion there is an illustations of a minstrel show on stage, advertised under the heading "Variety and Magic." Among the various attractions listed are Dick Sands, a champion clog dancer; Charles Young, a professional ventriloquist; Herr Schlam the great German wizard, the California Giantess, the Mammoth Woman of the World, described as a "living mountain of flesh" weighing 728 pounds; the Wonderful Wild People from Africa, illustrated in a cage and identified as Hiwanata, Yeppo, and Zenopia; Zoe Melike, a Circassian Beauty; Miss Ettie Rogers, an albino woman; and the $100,000 Reice Family of German Dwarfs. Admission is stated as 25 cents. No printer is named. According to the donor, this item was saved by a young man who attended the circus in the Bridgeport, Connecticut, area. ​​​​​​​Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that still bears his name, but his circus ventures came about in the early 1870s when he was in his 60s. The first show was called "P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus." Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations and far more people, and the intake was significant. Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses. A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus. Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. After Barnum's death in 1891, Bailey contineud to operate the circus. After his death in 1906, Ringling Brothers bought the business and operated it separately from their own for over ten years. The name remained until 1919 when the two circuses were combined to become Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. It came to an end in May 2017 when the circus ceased performances after 146 years.
Newspaper ad: "P. T. Barnum's New and Greatest Show on Earth," July 14, 1876
Newspaper ad for P.T. Barnum's New and Greatest Show on Earth, scheduled to be in Portsmouth [New Hampshire?] on Friday, July 14th, [1876]. The advertisement highlights giraffes, sea lions, a hippopotami, a live leopard, the tattooed from head-to-toe Captain Costentenus, and life-sized automatic marvels. An illustration of two hippos is featured at the top, and on the lower left hand side are the various animals and people who were attractions at the show. Oliver Wendell Holmes and four others are quoted for their rich description of Costentenus, included in the text. The ad patriotically makes note of the Centennial, the 100th anniversary of America's declaration of independence from Great Britain, and calls attention to a vast Centennial Museum and a portrait gallery. Barnum always included a museum as part of his circuses, retaining his passion for the venue that first made him famous, his American Museum in New York City. Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that still bears his name, but his circus ventures came about when he was in his 60s. The first show was called P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. The use of the ever-expanding railroad system to transport the circus propelled it to success, because it was easier to reach audiences at a distance, and greatly shortened travel time compared to moving the wagons on roads. The train cars were also used as moving billboards to promote the circus and whet people's appetites to be amazed by the scale and performances. Barnum opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses. A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus. Negotiations in 1887 resulted in Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey, which created his best known entertainment, Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth. Ringling Brothers purchased the show in 1907, first operating it separately, then in 1919 combining the two to form the circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. That circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Newspaper: Advertisement for "P. T. Barnum's 'The World in Contribution'" in Harper's Weekly, March 29, 1873
Full-page advertisement for "P. T. Barnum's 'The World in Contribution,'" in the March 29, 1873, issue of Harper's Weekly, page 254.  More than half the page consists of a large black and white illustration with a fanciful and grandiose view of Barnum in the clouds, his hand extended as if presenting his show as a gift.  Titles included in the illustration are  "The World in Contribution," and "Curiosities Arriving."  To the left, a corner of Barnum's former American Museum is shown. To the right is a distant view showing the circus traveling by train, and beyond it, a landscape with Native American teepees, and an ocean crowded with sailing ships.  Beneath Barnum there is an unusual "scene" shows a disproportionate line up of many types of wild animals, African natives in tribal garb, human curiosities, and performers.  The same image is used in a broadside, see item T2016.036.001. The heading beneath the illlustration reads, "Great Traveling World's Fair for the Campaign of 1873."  The text composing the lower half of the advertisement is a letter to the public from Barnum, describing how he overcame the third loss of a museum by fire, the Hippodrome, and the immense cost of his efforts to make a new show for the public.  With his mission to create entertainment suitable for families, his letter is strategicallly addressed to "Ladies, Gentlemen, Families, Children, Friends."  He begins by decribing  himself as a well-known "public Manager of Amusements blended with Instruction."  The main portion of the text describes his brand new traveling show, consisting of a Museum, Menagerie, and Hippodrome to be traveling throughout New England and Canada, and States north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi Rivers.  He notes that his show "may fairly be called a great TRAVELING WORLD'S FAIR."  Although Barnum does not use the term circus to describe his show, his traveling show was much like a circus, with the Hippodrome Tent seating 13,000 people, and elaborately decorated wagons and performers of all kinds.  His show followed the typical circus season, opening in late March.  He states that his show would require more than 150 train cars and five or six locomotives, and cost him $5000 per day.  At the end of his letter, he describes the three-mile procession each morning, essentially a circus parade, which was in addition to three performances per day.  The advertisement closes with "The public's obedient servant" followed by Barnum's (printed) signature, location, and date: 438 Fifth Avenue, New York on March 15, 1873. Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that still bears his name, but his circus ventures came about in the early 1870s when he was in his 60s.  The first show was called "P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus."  Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations and far more people, and the intake was significant.  Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts.  In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses.  A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus.  Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth.  After Barnum's death in 1891, Bailey contineud to operate the circus.  After his death in 1906, Ringling Brothers bought the business and operated it separately from the Ringling circus for over ten years.  The name remained until 1919 when the two circuses were combined to become Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.  It came to an end in May 2017 when the circus ceased performances after 146 years.
Poster: "Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth"
Color poster advertising "Barnum and Bailey['s] Greatest Show on Earth", featuring the portraits of P. T. Barnum and James A. Bailey, who were business partners in the circus enterprise of that name. Their partnership began in 1887. This poster was created in 1897, six years after P. T. Barnum's death, but his name and image were so well-known that they were essential part of the advertising and promotion. The image of Barnum shows him as an older man with white, curly hair, a receding hairline, and deep set eyes. Bailey, who was 37 years his junior, is shown in profile, with brown hair and a full beard. The text appears on bright red banners in the upper left and lower right quarters of the poster, while the portraits in oval frames are in the opposite corners. The deep blue background, which comprises only a small area of the poster, has a red, bright blue, and yellow border. The 40-inch x 32-inch poster was produced by the Strobridge Lithographing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. P. T. Barnum is best known today for the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but his circus ventures did not come about until he was in his early 60s. His first circus, in the early 1870s, was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Barnum subsequently opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, competition from other circuses increased. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the circus called Barnum & London. America's new and ever-growing railroad system propelled the circus to success, making it possible to add destinations and reach distant locations, as well as transport many more circus wagons, animals, equipment, tent canvas, performers and support staff. Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey in 1887 formed Barnum & Bailey, which continued to be managed by Bailey after Barnum's death in 1891. After Bailey's death in 1906, the Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey and operated it separately from their own circus. In 1919 the two were combined to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. That circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Poster: "Barnum and Bailey Parade Section 4, Performing Wild Beast Division"
Circus poster for the Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show on Earth showing Parade Section 4, the Performing Wild Beast Division, with a crowd of onlookers. Interestingly, the word circus does not appear on the poster. Barnum preferred to call his attraction the Greatest Show on Earth since it included much more than circus acts. The poster shows eight horse-drawn cage wagons circling around a fenced park that features a tall fountain. A band wagon is on the far side of the parade circle. Multi-story buildings in the background indicate an urban location, perhaps New York City. The cage "chariots" carry various beasts that include lions, tigers, panthers, leopards, and bears, as well as hyenas and wolves, along with their tamers and trainers. Life-sized carved figures decorate the wagons, and very likely represent the work of a well-known wood carver named Samuel Robb (1851-1928) who made figures for Barnum's wagons in the 1880s. The poster was printed sometime between 1888 and 1892 by the Strobridge Lithograph Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio. This date is based on the style of women's clothing shown, as the sleeves in particular reflect fashions of the late 1880s to early 1890s. Prior to the 1870s, advertising posters and handbills were relatively simple in design, and were printed in black ink. Advances in printing technology allowed the production of colorful, pictorial posters that excited people's interest. The new and ever-growing railroad system also propelled the circus to success, making it possible to add destinations and reach distant locations, as well as transport many more circus wagons, animals, equipment, tent canvas, performers and support staff on the trains. Barnum is best known today for the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, but his circus ventures did not come about until he was in his early 60s. His first circus, in the early 1870s, was called P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus. Barnum subsequently opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, competition from other circuses increased. A merger between Barnum’s show and the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the circus called Barnum and London. Barnum's partnership with James A. Bailey in 1887 formed Barnum & Bailey, which continued to be managed by Bailey after Barnum's death in 1891. After Bailey's death in 1906, the Ringling Brothers bought Barnum & Bailey and operated it separately from their own circus. In 1919 the two were combined to form Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. This circus gave its final performance on May 21, 2017.
Poster: "Barnum's American Museum, Performance Three Times Daily, [Sun]rise till 10"
Broadside promoting the attractions at Barnum's American Museum in New York City, as well as P. T. Barnum's successes in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Broadsides were a common format for advertising events and performances in the 1700s and early 1800s. They were typically printed in black ink (in this case there is also red lettering in the margins), and predate the colorful lithograph posters produced in the latter part of the 1800s.  Lacking the bold graphic designs of most posters, this broadside was intended to be viewed at close range.  This poster can be dated between 1864 and 1865 based on the attractions included among the many vignettes.  Although the broadside includes some of the long ago attractions that made Barnum famous, like opera singer Jenny Lind who toured in 1850-1851, the inclusion of female Union Army spy Pauline Cushman tells us that this broadside was not printed before 1864, the year she spoke at the museum.  She was one of hundreds of "newsmakers," people whom Barnum brought in short term to speak to audiences in his lecture hall. Flanking the central image of the American Museum, a portrait of Jenny Lind appears on the left and one of P. T. Barnum on the right, with an eagle above.  Included in the vignettes surrounding the museum are: Grizzly Adams and performing bears; a living Rhinoceros; the "Fairy Wedding" group featuring Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren; a living hippopotamus; Miss Hannah Crouse, the largest woman in the world with tiny Miss Reid; a group of North American Indians dancing; the automaton writer; an infant drummer; the dog show; the mammoth fat girl; Vantage Mack the giant baby; the baby show; a Tyrollean whistler; performing dogs; a double-voiced vocalist; a living white whale in the ocean; a negro turning white; a living sea horse; a learned seal [known by the name Ned]; the "What Is It?" [William Henry Johnson]; a lady with long hair; a living sea lion; Miss Major Pauline Cushman; the Circassian Family Group; the Highland fat boys; the Swiss bearded lady; shaking Quakers; tropical fish; a menagerie featuring elephants; the Living Skeleton; a Chinese family; a living sea serpent; an Eskimo family; a living orange outang, an elephant plowing; the Happy Family of prey and predators; a maskin hog; Jane Campbell the Connecticut Giantess; a living giraffe; Arabian Giant Col. Goshen and Giant Boy James Murphy with the Lilliputian King; a prismatic fountain; the Albino family; an aquarium; French Giant Mons. Josef, and Nova Scotia giantess Anna Swan; little person Gen. Grant June; a living monster python; Siamese twins Chang and Eng; the so-called cherry-colored cat; and the Irishman's Trick, the same man shown drunk and sober.  (Barnum was a proponent of Temperance.)  There are a few unidentified images among the vignettes.  Not all the performers and exhibits are contemporaneous; for example, Jenny Lind toured with Barnum in 1850 and 1851, and the Fairy Wedding took place in 1863.  Since the American Museum burned in July of 1865, it is presumed the broadside was published sometime between 1864, when Pauline Cushman was at the museum, and the first half of 1865, before the fire.  Under the Living Monster Python in the lower right area, the artist's signature is tucked into the vignette: "Drawn by Edmund S. Hall." In addition to performers and animal attractions, several places of special importance to P. T. Barnum are also depicted on the broadside.  These locations include: in the upper center, a view of East Bridgeport, Connecticut, an area that Barnum developed; in the center, a view of Barnum's American Museum, and beneath it a view of the museum's lecture room; in the lower right, an image of Barnum's second Bridgeport home, Lindencroft.  There were probably two or three additional views in the lower left corner where there is loss of original paper. Portions of text are visible along the sides and bottom.  Along the left edge, only a few letters are discernible.  At the right, a notice in red lettering arranged vertically states, "Performances three times daily." Along the lower edge, a partial announcement reads, "[Sun]rise til 10."  According to a label adhered at lower left, the broadside was found outside the Circus Winter Quarters in Bridgeport after the fire of November 20, 1887.  The broadside was significantly damaged with losses around the perimeter, and was mounted on paper to help preserve it.  It was donated to the Barnum Museum by Mrs. William Taylor of Norwalk, Connecticut.  Drawn by Edward S. Hall.  No printer is named.
Poster: "Coming with P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth, Captain Costentenus the Greek Albanian"
Color poster announcing one of P. T. Barnum's popular attractions of the 1870s and 1880s, Captain Costentenus, a man who was completely tatooed save for the soles of his feet. Barnum promoted him as having suffered the head to toe tattoing as a punishment at the hands of Chinese captors, but the story was fabricated. Costentenus was considered a medical curiosity in his day and was probably more heavily tattoed than any other person in his time period, though he was not the first tattoed person to exhibit himself. The medium-sized poster, dating to about 1876, is titled at the top, "Coming with P.T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth." It features a detailed upper body portrait of Captain Costentenus showing him with dark hair parted in the center and a very full beard, his skin covered in light blue tattoos of various wild animals, imaginatively drawn. The designs include lions and other wild cats, elephants, serpents, and various types of birds, with red dots creating patterns in the spaces between the animals. Beneath the portrait is the subtitle, "Captain Costentenus the Greek Albanian! Tattooed from head to foot in Chinese Tartary, as punishment for engaging in rebellion against the king." The poster was printed by H.A. Thomas Lithographic Studio, 865 Broadway, N.Y.
Poster: P. T. Barnum's "Scenes from a Long and Busy Life"
Full-color poster titled "Scenes from a Long and Busy Life” featuring a portrait of P. T. Barnum in the center, surrounded by vignettes illustrating highlights of his life and career. The subtitle of the poster describes Barnum as, “The Sun of the Amusement World from which all Lesser Luminaries Borrow Light." The poster is dated to about 1881, since in that year Barnum gave a fountain to his hometown of Bethel, Connecticut, which is a scene shown in the top right corner. In April of 1882, Barnum brought Jumbo the elephant to America, an event that is absent from the vignettes and surely would have been included had the poster been produced after that time. Below Barnum's portrait is a brief description of his life and career. The vignettes on the left side of the poster include scenes of the American Museum; an elephant plowing a field; Barnum's first grand mansion in Bridgeport, Iranistan; Barnum lecturing in England; a view of Barnum's adopted city of Bridgeport, which he was instrumental in developing; Barnum as Mayor of Bridgeport; and Barnum meeting President Garfield and Secretary Blaine. The vignettes on the right side include scenes of Barnum and young Charles S. Stratton ("General Tom Thumb") meeting crowned heads of Europe; a bronze fountain Barnum gave to his native town; Barnum giving a speech before the Connecticut State Legislature; Jenny Lind's arrival in America; a dinner given in Barnum's honor; Barnum riding through the New York Hippodrome with King Kalakaua of Hawaii; and a view of the circus Winter Quarters in Bridgeport. The lower righthand corner reads "with compliments, P.T. Barnum.” The purpose of this poster is unknown. It is not an advertisement for the circus, though clearly it promotes the image of P. T. Barnum, and illuminates many of his lesser known achievements, such as speaking before the General Assembly in favor of ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment. The poster was produced by the Strobridge Lithographing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Strobridge was known for producing the magnificently colored posters that advertised P. T. Barnum’s circuses, and the later Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. Strobridge produced color print material for other circuses as well. Color lithography came into its own in the latter half of the 1800s and changed the face of advertising, employing artists produce complex and beautifully detailed color images. Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that bore his name, but his circus ventures came about in the early 1870s when he was in his 60s. The first show was called "P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus." Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations and far more people, and the intake was significant. Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts. In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses. A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus. Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. After Barnum's death in 1891, Bailey contineud to operate the circus. After his death in 1906, Ringling Brothers bought the business and operated it separately from their own for over ten years. The name remained until 1919 when the two circuses were combined to become Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey. It came to an end in May 2017 when the circus ceased performances after 146 years.
Program: "P. T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth Program" for Olympia, London, November 20, 1889 (owned by the Barnum Museum)
Printed silk program for "P. T. Barnum's Greatest Show on Earth" presented in Olympia, London, England, on Wednesday, November 20, 1889.  The program is made of white silk satin fabric with silk fringe stitched around the edges.  It is printed in red ink.  The smooth surface of the satin allowed the printing to be clear and crisp, as easy to read as if printed on paper.  In the 1880s there was a fashion for printing "documents" on silk, presumably in instances when it was desired that the document be an impressive and enduring presentation gift.  No printer is named, but possibly it was printed in England, since the show took place there. Titled with the British spelling of "Programme," the document contains descriptions for eleven displays to be presented on two stages and three arenas.  The names of Barnum's key associates are printed near the top, including equestrian director William Ducrow, secretary Benjamin Fish, and treasurer, M. F. Young.  At the right, Barnum and James A. Bailey are noted as being "equal partners." The program also lists Barnum's Great Roman Hippodrome with its "Races, Games, and Pastimes," and following a ten-minute intermission, the grand spectacle performance of Imre Kiralfry's "Nero."  Near the bottom, the program notes that the furnishing and decoration of the Royal Boxes is credited to John Barker & Co.; Barker was a well-known interior decorator whose estabishment was in the Kensington area of London.   The note about the Royal Boxes may suggest the anticipated attendance of members of the Royal Family; if so, their attendance may have been the reason for producing silk programs.   Barnum is best known for his involvement with the circus that bore his name, but his circus ventures came about in the early 1870s when he was in his 60s.  The first show was called "P. T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus."  Railroads propelled the circus to success, making it easier to reach a number of locations and far more people, and the intake was significant.  Barnum then opened the New York Hippodrome with similar acts.  In the 1880s, he encountered competition from other circuses.  A merger between Barnum’s show the Great London Show of Cooper, Bailey, and Hutchinson formed the Barnum and London Circus.  Negotiations in 1887 formed the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth.  After Barnum's death in 1891, Bailey contineud to operate the circus.  After his death in 1906, Ringling Brothers bought the business and operated it separately from the Ringling circus for over ten years.  The name remained until 1919 when the two circuses were combined to become Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey.  It came to an end in May 2017 when the circus ceased performances after 146 years.