1889 Illustrated American Circus Advance Courier "walter L. Main Circus" For Sale
Outstanding and EXCEPTIONALLY RARE, original, 1889, extensively illustrated American Circus Advertising "Advance Courier" announcing the appearance of Walter L. Main's Circus which the "Great Golden International Shows, Thrilling Wild West, World's Museum, Monster Menagerie, Grand Egyptian Caravan and Mystic Circus from Japan". This was the very first incarnation of Walter L. Main's Circus and was issued for the next to last performance of 1889 at Chelsea, Massachusetts on October 10th.
This wonderful and early, four page Advance Courier measures approx. 14 1/4” by 20” and is printed on a delicate, white paper stock. This type of Publication - the Advance Courier - was an important promotional publication distributed in advance of a Show’s arrival in a city. The Courier offered here advertises an appearance of Walter L. Main's Circus which, for the first time in the career of this storied showman, was a large size show ( a 90 horse Wagon Show) with a Wild West Show, members of the famous Lowande family of equestrian performers, many trained animal acts and a wide variety of both human and animal attractions. Each page of the Courier is almost like a small, double sided broadside and each page includes outstanding illustrations as well as barnumesque text in various and elaborate fonts.
The front page of the Courier is titled at the top "The Great, The Only, The Original Walter L. Main's Great Golden International Shows". There is a large, central illustration titled "Circus in Town" which includes 5 vignette views of the circus including a view of the interior of the "big top" with a vast array of performances taking place, a view of a large crowd of photographers and their cameras on the grounds of a Circus titled "A Field Day For Amateur Photographers", a view of the circus tent being put up and 2 views of Circus Elephants. There are 6 smaller illustrations of exotic animals and equestrian performers along with advertising text that would have done P.T. Barnum himself proud. At the bottom of the sheet is a hand ink stamp with text announcing a performance of the Circus at Chelsea, Massachusetts on Thursday October 10th, 1889.
Page two is titled "The Canvas-Crowned King of Exhibitions and includes three illustrations - at the top an illustration that includes 5 vignette views of "Hazel the Blondin Pony" walking across a high wire and performing other tricks. At the center of the page is a view of the "Big Cats" in their cages and at the bottom an "Elephant Pyramid". Again the text on the page touts the enormity and the grand entertainment of the Walter L. Main Circus.
Page three is titled "An Eventful Day in Wonderland" and features five, fantastic illustrations including a view of trained monkeys performing at the top, a large central and two smaller images of trained horses and ponies and a view of a massive circus wagon at the bottom of the page. Headlines on this page give a sampling of the classic barkers text and include "The Stellar Luminaries of the Circus World"; "The Beau Ideal of Recreative Amusements"; "A Stupendous Assemblage of Startling Wonders"; and "Without Counterpart on Either Side of the Ocean".
The final page of the Courier is titled "A Superb and Brilliant Organization of Circuss, Museum and Zoological Attractions". This back page features 9 different illustrations including a large composite view at the top which includes many different performers including the circus's bicyclists, male and female equestrians, gymnasts, roller skaters, trick donkeys, Elephants, clowns, trained ponies, female acrobats, trained dogs, etc. There are three small illustrations of exotic animals, equestrian acts, trained bears and acrobats. At the lower left hand corner is a view of the Giant Horse and at the lower right a view of various strongman feats.
This incarnation of the Walter Main Circus appears to have existed for part of the 1888 season and all of the 1889 season and was the first circus owned and managed by the young showman. The content of the Advance Courier offered here presents a picture of a true “extravaganza" however this circus was, in fact, a one ring show.
This exceptionally rare and original, 1889, American Circus Illustrated Advance Courier is in very good condition - intact, complete and sound - generally clean and crisp with no significant soiling and no staining. There is some light edge wear but no separation at the spine and only minor wear at the junction of the central vertical and horizontal folds. Overall this wonderful and quite delicate publication is very well preserved and displays beautifully.
A very rare and important, 1889 American Circus, Illustrated Advertising “Advance Courier” and a fantastic addition to an collection!!!
Be sure to check out this seller’s other sales for two fantastic illustrated 19th century American Circus Broadsides which are also being offered for sale this week on !!
PLEASE NOTE: The massive collection of Circus Posters and Ephemera held by the “John and Mable Ringling Circus Museum” does not include an example of this Advance Courier nor does it hold any Posters / Broadsides or Advance Couriers from the 1889 season of the Walter Main Circus. We were unable to uncover any other examples of this or any 19th century Circus Advance Courier in institutions or any example sold over the past 10 years. We believe that, not only is the Courier offered here exceptionally rare but it may, in fact, be the only known example!!!
The following biography of Walter L. Main is taken from the May 10th, 1902 edition of the "New York Clipper" newspaper:
Walter L. Main, the well known showman, was born July 13, 1862, at Chatham, O., but shortly afterwards his parents took him to Trumbull, O., where his early life was spent. At the age of seventeen he began his professional career as property boy with the Quadruple Tented Combination. He worked in this capacity only a short while, when the management sent him ahead of the show as assistant to the general agent, to post bills, etc. Before the season was over he was acting in place of the general agent, who was taken ill. The following season young Main became advance agent for the Burdick & Allen Show under canvas. In 1881 Walter Main's father, William, and W. F. Sargent launched a wagon show on the road, with young Main as general agent. The show had a very successful season, and in the Fall the older Main purchased Sargent's interest, and the Spring of 1882 found Walter Main manager of his father's forty horse circus. The following Spring the show consolidated with M. M. Hilliard's Circus and Menagerie, which made it one of the largest shows of the kind on the road at that time. Young Main was contracting agent, under Geo. Costello. The latter resigned in the middle of the season, and young Main, then twenty-one years of age, became general agent. The show traveled by wagon, and had one hundred and twenty horses and mules, ten cages, and one large elephant. The show went West as far as Kansas. It was then known as Main & Co.'s Circus. He continued with the show until the closing of the season of 1884, when he returned home. In the Fall of 1885 Walter L. Main had a seven horse circus, using at 50ft. round top, and playing fairs. The following Summer he had a twenty-five horse wagon variety show, which he continued with success for two seasons. In 1888 he leased his first elephant from Adam Forepaugh and bought four cages at the Sells Barrett sale, the latter being filled with animals also leased from Mr. Forepaugh. He continued to increase his wagon show. In the Spring of 1891, when he sold his outfit and started the Walter L. Main New Railroad Shows, using twelve cars for transportation. In 1892 he carried two elephants, had two rings and a concert stage for the first time, and required eighteen cars for transportation. For 1893 one car was added, the size of the tents increased, and the quality of the show improved. On Decoration Day of that year the show was wrecked while en route to Tyrone, Pa., and with the exception of the advance cars, sleeping cars and three or four horses, everything was lost. It was probably the biggest loss ever sustained in a railroad wreck by any kind of a show. There were seven people and over one hundred horses killed, and the animals which escaped to the woods were either shot or captured. Through this Mr. Main actually lost over $30,000. In spite of this disaster, Mr. Main again launched his show on the road at the end of eight days, but owing to the panic of '93, the season was disasterour, and the show closed at Conneaut, O., in October. The following year the show opened in the East, but finally went South and made money. The show wintered in Louisville,and W. E. Franklin and brother invested $15,000 in the show and also became general agents. They opened April 15, 1895, in Louisville, and two months later Mr. Main paid back to Mr. Franklin the money he had invested, but later on the show went into Texas and lost money. The season of 1896 was successful. For '97 the show was enlarged, and was again successful. He continued to increase the show until 1900. On Jan. 23-26 of that year he sold his circus out at sale and went to Europe. The Summer of 1902 again found the Walter L. Main Show on the road, and for the coming Summer Mr. Main promises to put out the largest and best show he has ever had
The following is an August 2nd, 1889 advertisement from the Camden (Maine) Herald newspaper re: the Walter main Circus:
"Walter L. Main's International Exposition coming to Camden August 8. Wild West, Menagerie, Egyptian Caravan and Mystic Japanese Circus. Young Lowande, bareback rider; Mlle. Inez Lowande, equestrienne; Castor and Currier, high trapeze; Prof. Joseph Barries' Dog Circus and Trained Animal Paradox; Mons. Bigelow, modern Hercules; Mad. Dubois, female Samson; Japanese aerial artists; Mons. Leonard, lifts a living horse with his teeth. 200 men and horses, 40 performers, 10 lady artists, 5 clowns, cages of wild animals . . . "Dan Rice," the horse with the human brain; Generals "Grant" and "Lee," the see-saw horses; "Hazel," the Blondin pony; "Romeo," the performing elephant; "Jumbo" the giant horse. Admission 25 cents. Street parade led by Prof. Wm. M. Hoge's military band. Free outside exhibition. Rockland August 7th, Belfast August 9th.".
Overseasshippping is extra and cost will be quoted at buyers request. Massachusetts residents must add 6.25% sales tax.
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1889 Illustrated American Circus Advance Courier "walter L. Main Circus": $180