A Wonderful Three Dimensional Hand Painted 'Flying Circus' Fairground Sign

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Origin: English
Period: Early/Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1930-50
Width: 24 inches
Height: 18 inches


Naively painted, showing a three-dimensional carved wooden yellow painted plane with pilot and co pilot amongst a hand painted background of a clouded blue sky and a country house with meandering river, amidst folk feasting, some looking up and waving to the pilots. A moss green and chocolate brown moulded frame, with a curved top, borders the scene.

Unflinchingly adverting the “Flying Circus, Daredevil Stunts! 10d (pennies) a Ride” in fantastical shadowed script, using green, white and red to great effect, the carved plane with ‘No.1 Capt. Carter” inscribed to the flank. In a versatile size, the condition is very good considering the age, with no problems to report aside from some minor scuffs.

Although we are unsure of the size of the attraction this sign advertised, it was surely for an aerial experience of twists, spins and spirals based on Alan Cobham’s hugely successful flying circus.

These aviation displays consisted of a team of up to fourteen aircraft, ranging from single-seaters to modern airliners, and many skilled pilots. It toured the country, calling at hundreds of sites, some of them regular airfields and some just fields cleared for the occasion. Generally known as "Cobham's Flying Circus", it was hugely popular, giving thousands of people their first experience of flying, and bringing "air-mindedness" to the population continuing until 1935.

This charming sign is a unique, original piece of artwork and craftsmanship designed to catch the child’s eye. It surely succeeds, and in doing so in encapsulates the nostalgia of the flying circus and of the fairground itself. Chocks away old boy.

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