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Three Ring Circus

July 7, 2016
John E. Bacon, Van Amburgh & Co's Menagerie and Colossal Golden Chariot (Detail). Wood-block print on paper, 83 1/2 x 78 3/4. Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr., Natalie Peters, and Natalie Webster. 1959-67.77. Photography by Andy Duback.

John E. Bacon, Van Amburgh & Co’s Menagerie and Colossal Golden Chariot (detail). Wood-block print on paper, 83 1/2 x 78 3/4. Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr., Natalie Peters, and Natalie Webster. 1959-67.77. Photography by Andy Duback.

MAGAZINE
DESIGN | ANTIQUES

Three Ring Circus

Papering the Town: Circus Posters in America from the Shelburne Museum, Vermont

Text by Bill Indursky | Images Courtesy of the Shelburne Museum
JuLY 07, 2016

In today’s world entertainment is on demand but, 200 years ago you had to wait until the entertainment came to you. And, no attraction’s arrival was more anticipated by its exciting advertising posters than the circus. In fact, the circus was America’s most popular form of entertainment from 1870-1950.

Posters would be plastered up to a twenty mile radius of the venue covering entire barn sides, exterior of homes, storefronts, factory walls, and fence rows. They would feature fantastical images of wild beasts, daredevils, and curiosities designed to excite and entice audiences.

Beginning July 9, 2016 and continuing till January 22, 2017, the Shelburne Museum, Vermont, will explore America’s love affair with the circus with Papering the Town: Circus Posters in America an exhibition from its collection of circus posters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The posters will include some of the museum’s largest examples, rarely ever exhibited due to their size.

Papering the Town will feature the museum’s historically significant Colchester circus posters from the late 19th century. These posters were discovered underneath the exterior siding on Harold and Gladys Degree’s home in Colchester, Vermont in 1991. Conservation of the posters uncovered evidence of an advertising war waged between the Adam Forepaugh Circus and John B. Doris Circus in 1883.

In a note to fans, Curator Kory Rogers says, “Posters are extremely light sensitive and fragile and this may be the only chance for viewers to see these colorful works of American history.”

On Saturday, July 9, 2016 beginning at 1:30 pm, Curator Kory Rogers will present a lecture entitled A Roaring Success: The Wild Career of Big Cat Trainer Isaac Van Amburgh. Rogers will examine the incredible life story of the man who pioneered the field of big cat animal training in the mid-19th century, garnering fame at home and abroad. A rags-to-riches story, Van Amburgh’s career began in 1835 when as a young man, without any experience, he volunteered to enter a lion’s cage. He later shocked audiences when he became the first man to ever stick his head in the mouth of a hungry lion.  The lecture will take place at the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education on the museum’s grounds.

WHY DLN BELIEVES THE SHELBURNE MUSEUM TO BE ONE OF AMERICA’S BEST MUSEUMS AND A MUST VISIT

Shelburne Museum’s world-renowned collections of art and Americana span four centuries and include some of the most outstanding examples anywhere of fine and decorative arts, folk art, circus collections, textiles, toys, carriages, decoys, and more. From French Impressionism to American ingenuity, Shelburne Museum has something for everyone.

The Museum’s collections are housed in thirty-nine buildings spread out over forty-five beautifully landscaped acres. Among these are twenty-five significant examples of historic New England architecture, relocated to the Museum grounds to provide a historic setting for the Museum’s treasures. The result is an unconventional and totally immersive museum experience that delights visitors of all ages.

Visit: https://shelburnemuseum.org

Russell Morgan and Company Engravers and Printers, Gorilla and Woman, 1883. Wood-cut print on paper, 90 x 42 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of Harold and Gladys Degree. 1991-18.3. Photography by Andy Duback.

Russell Morgan and Company Engravers and Printers, Gorilla and
Woman, 1883. Wood-cut print on paper, 90 x 42 in. Collection of
Shelburne Museum, gift of Harold and Gladys Degree. 1991-18.3.
Photography by Andy Duback.

Maker unknown, Nala Damajoute: Snake Charmer, 1883. Wood-cut print on paper, 35 1⁄2 x 42 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of Harold and Gladys Degree. 1991-18.1. Photography by Andy Duback.

Maker unknown, Nala Damajoute: Snake Charmer, 1883. Wood-cut
print on paper, 35 1⁄2 x 42 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of
Harold and Gladys Degree. 1991-18.1. Photography by Andy Duback.

John E. Bacon, Van Amburgh & Co's Menagerie and Colossal Golden Chariot. Wood-block print on paper, 83 1/2 x 78 3/4. Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr., Natalie Peters, and Natalie Webster. 1959-67.77. Photography by Andy Duback.

John E. Bacon, Van Amburgh & Co’s Menagerie and Colossal Golden
Chariot. Wood-block print on paper, 83 1/2 x 78 3/4. Collection of
Shelburne Museum, gift of Harry T. Peters, Jr., Natalie Peters, and
Natalie Webster. 1959-67.77. Photography by Andy Duback.

Maker unknown, 2 Giraffes. Wood-block print on paper, 106 x 195 in. Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of Kristin L. Matlock. 1986- 70.7. Photography by Andy Duback.

Maker unknown, 2 Giraffes. Wood-block print on paper, 106 x 195 in.
Collection of Shelburne Museum, gift of Kristin L. Matlock. 1986-
70.7. Photography by Andy Duback.


About the author: Bill Indursky

Bill Indursky is an architect, trend expert, and digital entrepreneur. He is the former founder of V&M (Vintage & Modern (2006-2013)) and the current founder of Design Life Network (DLN). DLN is a MAGAZINE + DESIGN AGENCY + MARKETPLACE + TV CHANNEL promoting inspiring design of all eras online and on TV.

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