Here collected together for the first time are 48 large, full-color, rare posters, 1890s-1940s, superbly reproduced from originals. Printed in extra large format so that even small details can be clearly seen, the posters feature many of the greats of the American circus: acrobats, clowns, Gargantua, etc., from Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey, Sparks, more.
Read More Show Less
... See more details below
American Circus Posters

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price
(Save 34%)$15.95 List Price


Here collected together for the first time are 48 large, full-color, rare posters, 1890s-1940s, superbly reproduced from originals. Printed in extra large format so that even small details can be clearly seen, the posters feature many of the greats of the American circus: acrobats, clowns, Gargantua, etc., from Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey, Sparks, more.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486133850
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 8/24/2012
  • Series: Dover Fine Art, History of Art
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 1,209,224
  • File size: 22 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Read an Excerpt



Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1978 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-13385-0


Literally, the traveling tented circus was "here today-gone tomorrow."

Since the show would usually be in town for only one day, and give only two performances, the circus management contrived ahead of time many ways to advertise.

Approximately two weeks prior to show day, the advance crew of the circus arranged for the publication of advertisements in newspapers, the distribution of heralds and the mailing of couriers to let everyone know their show was coming to town.

The most important tool used by the advertising crew was the lithograph or poster.

Posters of ½-sheet size or 1-sheet size (28" x 42") were hung in store windows by the hundreds. Posters of larger sizes, such as 3-sheet (42" x 84"), 6-, 9-, 16-, 20-, 28-sheet and many other sizes, including, rarely, 100-sheets, were pasted on sheds, barns, buildings, walls and fences. When appropriate space was not available, the billposters simply went to the local lumberyard, purchased the necessary material, built a board fence around a vacant lot, and then pasted their posters on it.

The circus poster was used profusely. The big railroad circuses thought nothing of using 5,000 to 8,000 sheets per town. If competition from another circus showed up, the quantity of paper used might easily double.

The fifty-year period between 1880 and 1930 was what might be called the great days of the circus poster. There were dozens of lithograph houses that turned out handsome work. Among the leaders were the Strobridge and Enquirer Companies of Cincinnati; Donaldson of Newport, Kentucky; Riverside of Milwaukee; Erie of Erie, Pennsylvania; and Courier of Buffalo.

The circus, of course, was a subject that was colorful and exciting and it was easy for the lithographers to produce designs loaded with action and all the colors of the rainbow.

The magnificence of their work—from artist to platemaker to pressman-is exemplified in the representative posters reproduced in this book.

The posters were scrutinized from sidewalks, from horseback, from wagons or carriages and later from streetcars and autos. The detail was exquisite whether they were viewed from five feet or 50 feet away.

The color and artwork instantly caught the eye. Perhaps the subject was a beautiful, lithe lady on a prancing white horse. Perhaps a startling tiger would be charging right at you, or perhaps it was the graceful aerial acts that attracted attention. These and hundreds of other designs ingrained in the public's mind the fact that the circus was coming.

On every poster the name or title of the circus was clearly printed. Alongside the posters were conspicuous date sheets that told the name of the show town, the day of the week, the date and the month. Repetition of these facts, "Madison, Tuesday, May 27" would subconsciously sink into the viewer's mind.

The reason for showing the name of the town was simple. Circus billers would post towns 15 and 20 miles out (and more) in all directions from the community where the circus would put up its tents.

All of this advertising, as we have seen, was handled by a crew who traveled in advance of the show.

If it was a small wagon circus, the advance crew likewise traveled in horse-drawn vehicles and stayed in town only one day so they could keep two weeks ahead of the show.

Railroad circuses used railroad cars to carry their advance crews. Depending on the size of the circus, they used from one to four cars, each with a crew of from 20 to 30 men.

The first car would arrive in town about two weeks before the show, the second a few days later, and the second crew would cover additional territory.

The men of the advance knew that their advertising had to do a job because the circus they worked for would generally be in town for such a brief time. Nothing was left to chance and they saw to it that this wonderful and colorful and exciting paper was put up in every feasible spot.

The lithographers gave them the best possible tools—their posters. The advance crew got them up where they could be seen. On circus day, when people crowded out to the showgrounds, jammed up in front of the ticket wagons and shoved the shekels of the realm onto the counter, receiving in return a small piece of paper called a ticket-then and then only did everyone know the beautiful posters had done the job for which they were designed. CHARLES PHILIP Fox


Excerpted from AMERICAN CIRCUS POSTERS IN FULL COLOR by CHARLES PHILIP FOX. Copyright © 1978 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Page,
Notes on the Plates,

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)