1887 Illustrated American Circus Broadside Poster "frank A. Robbins' Circus"
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1887 Illustrated American Circus Broadside Poster "frank A. Robbins' Circus":
Outstanding and EXCEPTIONALLY RARE, original, 1887, extensively illustrated American Circus Advertising Broadside announcing the appearance of the “Frank A. Robbins' Double Circus, Museum, Menagerie and Trained Animal Paradox" - an "Extravaganza" that included a two ring circus, "Double Menageries", "Museum of Living Wonders", and much, much more!!!
This wonderful and early, double sided "streamer" type, American Circus Broadside measures approx. 10 1/4” by 29” and is printed on a very delicate, yellow colored paper stock. The Broadside advertises an appearance of Frank A. Robbins' Circus which included some of the most amazing trained animal acts of the period. This is a double sided - streamer type Broadside with both sides featuring outstanding illustrations as well as barnumesque text in various and elaborate fonts.
The "front" side of the Broadside is titled at the top "Frank A. Robbins' New and Grandest Shows!". Further text at the top reads "1000 New and Novel Features Added! / Queer, Odd, Unusual and Extraordinary Sights". This side of the Broadside features two simply fantastic illustrations of performing elephants. The cut at the top of the Sheet features 5 vignettes of "The Wonderful Clown Elephant Abdelena" in performance with a human clown (the elephant's trainer "Bill"). The vignettes show Abdelena and Bill (both in clown costume) seated at dinner table enjoying a meal - the Elephant grasps what appears to be a bottle of wine with her trunk and is pouring the contents down her throat to Bill's horror! This image is surrounded by views of Abdelena swing on a swing, playing on a seesaw with Bill, bowing to the audience while standing on a tub, and seated on a bench with Bill.
The second illustration on this side features a fantastic "Elephant Band" with 7 elephants dressed in marching band uniforms playing instruments including a viola, horns, bells, cymbals, a base drum and an organ grinder's organ. Text on this side includes a listing of the three most famous acts appearing with the show that year - Charles W. Fish ""The World's Champion Bareback Rider"; Chevalier Ira Paine "The Universal Champion All-round Shot - Shooting 1000 Glass Balls and Missing None"; The Jeal Sisters "Graceful Champion Lady Bareback Riders". At the bottom of this side there is a date stamp announcing a performance of the Circus at Chelsea, Massachusetts on Saturday June 11, 1887.
The opposite side of the Broadside Streamer is titled at the top “I Will Positively Visit You / Rain or Shine, and Bring to Your Town My / New and Grandest Show”. There are also two fantastic illustrations of trained animal acts. The cut at the top of the Sheet features 6 vignettes of Trained Mules in performance with a human clown. The illustration at the bottom of the Sheet features 7 vignettes of Trained Seals in performance including an image of a seal shooting a rifle. Again this side of the Broadside features grandiose "barnumesque" text in various and elaborate fonts including another listing of the three top acts and a note to the public that reads "Remember the Great Free Street Parade!".
This incarnation of the Frank A. Robbins Circus appears to have existed from 1881 through 1893 - with the 1887 and 1888 seasons being among its most successful. As can be seen by the content of the Broadside offered here, it was certainly a true “extravaganza”!!
This exceptionally rare and original, 1887, American Circus Illustrated Broadside is in very good condition - the sheet is very clean with no staining or soiling. The printed text and illustrations are dark and bold and very attractive. There are some horizontal creases and a few short edge tears at the folds but the only significant damage is a complete, clean, horizontal separation at the lowest fold (approx 3 3/4" up from the bottom of the sheet. With a professional matting and framing this separation can be made nearly invisible. Overall this 125 year old Broadside is very well preserved and will display beautifully even with the horizontal separation.
A very rare, very attractive and important, 1887 American Circus, Illustrated Advertising Broadside and a fantastic addition to an collection!!!
Be sure to check out this seller’s other sales other fantastic illustrated 19th century Circus Broadsides which are also being offered for sale this week on !!
PLEASE NOTE: The massive collection of Circus Posters held by the “John and Mable Ringling Circus Museum” does not include an example of this Broadside not does it hold any Posters / Broadsides from the 19th century incarnation of the Frank Robbins Circus. We were unable to uncover any other examples of this or any King & Franklin Broadsides in institutions or sold over the past 10 years. We believe that , not only is the Broadside offered here exceptionally rare but it may, in fact, be the only known example!!!
The following is the entry for Frank A. Robbins from "Olympians of the Sawdust Circle" Compiled and Edited by William L. Slout:
ROBBINS, FRANK A. (June 15, 1854-October 10, 1920) Rider and showman. Started in the circus business as a candy butcher. Hemmings, Cooper & Whitby, 1870; Hemmings & Cooper, 1871; George F. Bailey 1872-73?; concert ticket seller, Warner, Henderson & Springer, 1874; Melville, Maginley & Cooke, 1875; candy stand, P. T. Barnum’s, 1876; VanAmburgh’s, 1877; P. T. Barnum’s, 1878; Was a protégé of Adam Forepaugh’s, menagerie booklets, 1879; privileges, Pullman & Hamilton, 1880. Started his own show, May 6, 1881, and continued with it for several years, including the New York Circus, 1893, which sailed up the Hudson on a chartered steamer, stopping at various cities. General manager, Robert Hunting’s, 1894-95; lessee and general manager, New York Circus, 1897; Frank A. Robbins United Shows (Frank A. Robbins, Gil Robinson, John W. Hamilton, W. A. Conklin, proprietors), 1898; sideshow manager, Sun Bros.’, 1899. November 9, 1910, his 18 year old daughter, Winona, disappeared from her home in Jersey City and was married several hours later to Ray W. Anders, a 23 year old candy butcher. Operated his own show, 1905-1915. Retired from the circus business, fall 1915. Unable to remain idle, entered the carnival business as well as placing circus acts in vaudeville. 1916, was one of the first showmen to transport by motor trucks. Used specially constructed 2-ton trucks for the baggage with trailers for the cages, ticket wagons and chandelier wagon. [Robbins: “I have been investigating the feasibility of motor truck transportation for upwards of a year and have convinced myself that it is the one and only proper method. I figure that we can save from $35,000 to $40,000 on transportation in a season and what is more, it will enable me to visit and show in towns where under ordinary conditions, by railroad haulage, it would be impossible.”] Was a resident of Jersey City, NJ, for some 20 years where he headquartered his show. Had a wife, Matilda, a daughter, Winona, and a son, Milton A. Died at Riverside Hospital, Charleston, SC, from the effects of injuries incurred when he fell 20’ through a skylight at Andrews, SC, on October 10.
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