Circus Posters of P.T. Barnum and The Ringling Brothers

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Before there was the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and their Greatest Show on Earth there was just P.T. Barnum and the Ringling brothers each with their own traveling circus. Barnum’s circus was originally known as P.T. Barnum’s Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Circus, which was unveiled as the largest American circus in 1870 and quickly became a hit (Barnum’s Timeline). Then in 1881 Barnum, James Bailey, and James Hutchinson partnered up to create P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth & The Great London Circus, which later became Barnum & Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth in 1888 (P.T. Barnum). Sixteen years after Barnum’s death in 1891, the Ringling brothers bought out their competition, but the two shows continued to tour independently until they were finally combined in 1919 as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, The Greatest Show on Earth (Bailey and the Ringlings). Throughout the years of change for both of these famous American circuses, countless advertisements were designed to draw the public into the shows and many of them were created by the Strobridge Lithographing Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cincinnati Art Museum houses a sizeable permanent collection of Strobridge circus posters among which are a few for the Ringling’s circus and also some from the many incarnations of Barnum’s circus. Despite being made by the same company, the posters created for the two circuses were overall very different in style, in the treatment of typography, and in the layout while still maintaining some basic similarities. The best example of this from the Cincinnati Art Museum’s collection can be seen through the comparison of two posters, one for the Ringling Bros. advertising The 9 Jordans and The Incomparable Cla... ... middle of paper ... ...P.T. Barnum." Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey: The Greatest Show on Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. . Strobridge Lithography Company. P.t. Barnum's Greatest Show On Earth & The Great London Circus / The Only And Original Lulu: In His Original Gigantic Straight-up Jump. N.d. Circus Posters, Cincinnati. Cincinnati Art Museum. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. Strobridge Lithography Company. Ringling Bros / The 9 Jordans / The Incomparable Clarkonians. N.d. Circus Posters, Cincinnati. Cincinnati Art Museum. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. "The Gaylord Oscar Shepherd Collection of Strobridge Lithography Company Calendar Cards." The Gaylord Oscar Shepherd Collection of Strobridge Lithography Company Calendar Cards. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2014. .

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