Favorite Ringling Brothers Circus Posters

On the spring of May 21, 2017, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® said its final goodbye to a sold-out crowd of enthusiastic fans in Uniondale, NY. For 146 years they entertained audiences of all ages and set the stage for the Greatest Show on Earth. One of which the earth will never see again…

When it all began, before the Internet and social media, expectation and promotion for the circus was set with stunning posters that depicted circus acts, animals, oddities, clowns and more. These visuals were installed and promoted weeks ahead of the show and were often the first form of communications. The posters set the stage for excitement and anticipation as bold colorful graphics expressing the awe and excitement of the circus were placed in store windows, telephone poles and billboard signs.

Circus Advertising was a challenge before the media, as we know it today. The circus owner had to create a bold brand and also stir an excitement that no one could miss. These visuals and graphics had to have a WOW impact like no other!

Often these advertisements only ran for a day. Everything hinged on the design of circus poster. Throughout the circus decades there have been dozens upon dozens of unique circus poster designs. Here are a few of our favorites.

Charles Livingston Bull

One of most memorable designs ever produced as a circus poster design was that of a ferocious leaping tiger for Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey combined Shows. The poster was designed by Illustrator Charles Livingston Bull in 1915 and used continuously to 1928.

Chariot Race Edward Potthas

Edward Potthast

Equestrian acts were a big draw for circuses and in 1920, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows featured “Chariot Race” on this poster designed by significant 19th-century American artist Edward Potthast.

Take a look at more unique Barnum and Bailey Vintage Circus Posters!

Jumbo the Giant African American Elephant 1882 Circus Poster

Circus Animals Illustrated

THE LARGEST GORILLA EVER EXHIBITED
Gargantua was one of the most famous headliners in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He was born in the jungles of the Congo in 1929.

Jumbo the elephant in real life.

Circus Performer’s

Child Protege
Mr. Mistin Jr. was a child prodigy on the xylophone who performed for RB in the early ’50’s.

Mr. Mistin, Jr., xylophone player billed as the “Boy Wonder of the World,” tries a bit of safe aerial work by balancing on a rail at Madison Square Garden, New York, during preparations for the circus opening for the 1953 season, March 31, 1953. The youngster, a five-year-old Belgian, plays both classical and popular music.

Clowns

And what is a circus without clowns!

1920 – The Children’s favorite Clown

 

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