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.
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!
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.
Mr. Mistin Jr. was a child prodigy on the xylophone who performed for RB in the early ’50’s.
And what is a circus without clowns!