Period: Early / Mid Twentieth Century
Width: 11.5 inches
Height: 11.5 inches
Depth: 3 inches
The Photographs: Mostly 10 x 8 inches
Containing one hundred and three photographs, with some related ephemera, the album, showing various aspects of the circus across America from the turn of the century all the way through to the 1980s. The collection includes a small group of cinema stills based on circus themes but the majority having being taken at live circuses.
Circus’s featured in this exceptional portfolio include; The Kelly Miller Circus, Hagenback-Wallace Circus, Shrine Circus, RBBB Circus, Cole Brothers Circus, Jungleland, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, Circus Vargas, Sells Floto Circus, Al G. Barnes Circus, Carson and Barnes, John Robinson Circus, Ken Jensen Circus, Downie Bros., Buffalo Bills Wild West, Clyde Bros Circus, Terrell Jacobs Wild Animal Circus, Portland Zoo; many of these within the American Circus Corporation.
Locations are equally varied and include Peru Indiana, Marion Indianapolis, Garden Grove, San Diego, Barstow and Shafter; all in California, Columbus Nebraska, Portland Oregon, Wichita Falls Texas, Toronto Canada and as far a field as Paris, France.
Photographs are signed by names such as circus favourite John Strong “Thanks, Good Luck, Your Friend, John A.J. Strong” and famous leopard trainer Olga Celeste “To Mr and Mrs Monell, midnight the black leopard – happy to know you”. Others beautifully captured are circus impresario and lion tamer Clyde Beatty, famous clowns Dick Lewis and Renee Thezan from the Ken Jensen Circus of 1960, tramp clown Mark Anthony, Artur Adano renowned escape artist, John and Milonga Cline, Mabel “Babe” Gardener, circus diva Lillian Leitzel, circus trainer Don McLennon, lion trainer Jules Jacot and noted elephant historian Chang Reynolds. Many photographs also have names of the animals featured inscribed verso such as Elephants Thonglaw, Sheba, Bimbo, Margaret, Sudan, Mabel, Puqua, Queen, Jenny and Liz all being mentioned amongst others.
The cinema stills included are mostly MGM copyright including titles such as Jumbo, and are stamped verso with details of performers for film fans. Many of these stills are rare.
The condition of the photos is mainly good to very good, the only concern being some have been slightly affected by being housed in a ring binder, the rings causing slight indentations on the borders of some photographs. Although not important, the housing is of no real quality, a simple facsimile manual binder from TRW Systems of Redondo Beach California. Some photographs have processing laboratory stamps verso including M.D.McCarter of Pheonix Arizona, Charles F. Miles of Maryland, Pringle and Booth of Toronto and many are from “the collection of Hunt Bushnell”.
Clearly reflecting a strong personal passion for every element of circus life this intimate and aesthetically pleasing collection of photographs is an important one illustrating a last bastion of the great railroad show. Rarely do albums of this nature surface that are so comprehensive, spanning over seventy years of circus history, weaving together a rich photographic tapestry and collaboration of famous performers, trainers, shows, locations, themes and animals.
Through these very photographs, the show, must surely, go on.
NB: Our photographs only show around half of the photographs and content. A zip file containing all content within the album is available upon request.