Original playbill for the P.T. Barnum's circus spectacle, featuring Jumbo. JUMBO, P T. BARNUM.
Original playbill for the P.T. Barnum's circus spectacle, featuring Jumbo.

Original playbill for the P.T. Barnum's circus spectacle, featuring Jumbo.

Philadelphia: Merrihew Print, J. Spencer Smith, Chestnut Street, circa 1882-1885.

Original circus playbill measuring 395 x 142 mm, printed on both sides, split at central fold, very good condition.

Barnum and Bailey bring Jumbo to Pennsylvania

Scarce and highly ephemeral playbill from the golden age of the Barnum and Bailey circus, featuring woodblocks of P.T. Barnum and Jumbo, as well as the Roman hippodrome races.

Scarce and highly ephemeral playbill from the golden age of the Barnum and Bailey circus, featuring woodblocks of P.T. Barnum and Jumbo, as well as the Roman hippodrome races.

A collision of different typefaces amidst four woodblocks, the playbill was printed locally to advertise the week of shows commencing 30 April. Jumbo was purchased from the London Zoo in 1882 and Barnum's partnership with fellow showman James Bailey ended in 1885, providing a three-year timeframe for the printing of this playbill (the three owners - Barnum, Bailey and Hutchinson - are clearly indicated).

And what a spectacle it must have been, filling the broadmeadow below Dickinson street in Philadelphia. In addition to Jumbo the elephant, the playbill boasts a further another 29 trained elephants and no less than 10 giraffes. In fact, the circus boasted an entire zoological exhibition within its boundaries, here spruiked as "2 Mighty Menageries Containing every notable Wild Beast, Bird and Reptile known to Naturalists".

The reverse of the handbill boasts the brilliant street parade, Roman hippodrome races and over 1000 rare and curious freaks. Of special interest is an "ethnological" exhibit including so called Aztecs, the last of the Montezumas, a wild girl, giants and midgets, and the wild man of Borneo. This bill proclaims the exorbitant costs of staging the circus, compared to the relatively modest admission price of 50 cents for adults and children half price.

Price (AUD): $885.00

US$641.59   Other currencies

Ref: #4310639