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1882 Rare Victorian Trade Card~ryan & Robinson One Season Circus~james Robinson For Sale
Offered isa fascinating19th century Victorian trade card advertisingP. Ryan's Menagerie for Wild Beasts, W.O'Dale Stevens' Great Pacific Combination and James Robinson's Champion Circus.
TheRyan & Robinson Circus was a one season venture. AfterJames Robinson's amazing equestrian actearned him as much as $50,000 a year in the 1860s, according to one report, along with medals and ribbons from the crowned heads of Spain, France, Russia and England --- and a golden diamond belt presented to him by admirers in Cuba --- he joined Patrick Ryan in a one-season effort in 1882 titled "Ryan & Robinson."
This trade card is a souvenir of that event and is lithographed by CourierLitho Co. of Buffalo, N.Y., which produced color lithos, most notably for Barnum and Bailey and Buffalo Bill.
Because the Ryan & Robinson circuswas only held for one season, this trade cardis particularly rare and desirable.
The back of the card is titled: The Best Show of 1882 and advertisesJames Robinson as "the unquestioned greatest living Bare-Back Horseman in any country and wearing the Diamond-Studded Belts of 12 Nations."
Excerpted from Olympians of the Sawdust Circle:
ROBINSON, JAMES[r n. James Michael Fitzgerald]. (1835-1917) Outstanding bareback rider. Born in Boston. Age 9 was apprenticed toJohn Gossin, the clown, who was with Rockwell & Stone. Remained with Gossin for 2 years, during which time performed as general utility, leaping, tumbling, etc. Spring 1846, indentured toJohn Robinson, remaining for 9 years. When he left, was the top equestrian in the business. Joined Spalding & Rogers, 1856, and traveled through the East and South; engaged by Howes & Cushing for their United States Circus in England, with which he also toured the Continent; while abroad was connected with Astley’s Royal Amphitheatre, where he created a sensation; following this, rejoined Howes & Cushing at the Alhambra Palace, London, for 3½ month engagement there; appeared before the royal family, May 14, 1858; followed by a series of performances at Vauxhall Gardens; engaged to the German circus manager,Walslager, for a year at a salary of $250 a week and all expenses paid; returned to London, where he was hired byJames M. Nixonfor Cooke’s Royal Amphitheatre (James M. Nixon, proprietor), Niblo’s Garden, NYC, 1860. John Robinson’s, 1861; Thayer & Noyes, 1862; Chiarini’s, fall 1862, for his amphitheatre in Havana, Cuba. March 9, 1863, was given a benefit that netted $1,700 and a championship belt that cost almost $1,500. Thayer & Noyes, 1863. At the season’s close, in company withFrank Howes, erected an amphitheatre, Chicago, opening November 24, 1863. Robinson and Howes organized a railroad show, 1864. John Robinson’s, 1864; Dan Rice’s, 1865; Yankee Robinson’s, Chicago, November 1866; Hippotheatron, NYC, winter 1865-66; L. B. Lent’s, 1866; Parisian Circus, assembled for the Paris Exposition, 1867; Albisu’s, Havana, winter 1866-67; winter circus, Academy of Music, New Orleans, January 1869; equestrian director, James Robinson’s Champion Circus, 1869; Robinson’s Circus and Gardner & Kenyon’s Menagerie, 1869; equestrian director, performer, James Robinson’s Circus (LipmanandWalters, proprietors), 1870; combined his circus with P. A. Older’s, 1873; James W. Wilder & Co., 1873; Haight’s Great Eastern, 1874; John Wilson’s Palace Amphitheatre, San Francisco, 1875; Cooper, Bailey & Co., 1876; Great London, 1878; equestrian director, Great Chicago Circus, 1879; Sells Bros.’, 1881, 1884; Ryan & Robinson, 1882; W. W. Cole’s, 1883; S. H. Barrett’s, 1885; Miller, Stowe & Freeman, 1887. [George Middleton: “When he walked in the ring to begin his act, with whip in hand, and jumped on the back of his bare-backed horse one was impressed at that minute that he was ‘it.’ He had that style and grace and finish to his act that no one else ever had that I have ever seen or heard of.”] Finally, retired to a farm in Mexico, MO, where he trained horses and died. Robinson’s riding style was original, fine and graceful; attrative in physique and personality; as a pad or bareback rider, or carrying a boy on horseback, challenged all comers, offering up to $10,000 and his championship belt to anyone who could exceed him. Touted as the greatest bareback rider of his day, his act was described, 1867: “On a bare-backed horse, he now is on his head, now at the other extremity, now backwards, now forwards, now riding sideways, now jumping over banners on one foot, now turning twice around in the act of jumping them, and now on his knees.... Thecoup de forceis the turning of successive back somersaults through three balloons covered with paper and alighting each time on his feet on his horse.” For a time made his home in Louisville, KY, where he had a brother-in-law who was a dry goods merchant, and Robinson, for some years, it was said, was a silent partner in the business.
This trade card isan advertisement for the Ryan & Robinson Circus, printed in glorious colors on a thinner weight paper and probably not intended to last beyond the 1882 season.
Size of this stunning trade card is 4 3/4" x 3 1/2". Thetrade card exhibits edge wear, primarily on the top and bottom edges,and a tiny bit of paper loss at the bottom right corner. However, all advertising, including the pictorial image of trapeze artists and the printing on the back of the card, is intact and legible.
The imagery is striking and the detailed description of the acts on the verso is a wonderful souvenir of 19th century showmanship!
Shipping is $1.00 in the U.S. and actual cost elsewhere.
Please check my other sales for morefascinating vintagepaper items. I will happily combine shipping to save you money.
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1882 Rare Victorian Trade Card~ryan & Robinson One Season Circus~james Robinson: $119