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Circus Busch (1903 - 1999)



  • Existence: 1903 - 1999


Circus Busch was established by Jakob Busch (1879-1948) in Nuremberg, Germany in 1903.

Jakob was born on 5 November 1879 in Würzburg, into a family of fairground entertainers, who owned a small menagerie. Jakob started working in the family business as a child and eventually developed a strongman act. In 1903, Jakob left the family business to establish his own hybrid circus/travelling menagerie show, ‘Wild-Animal Show Circus Busch’.

The initial circus was a small outfit with a strong focus on showing animals, nevertheless it gained popularity and progressed to become one of the largest travelling circus in Europe by the mid-1900s.

By the 1920s, the circus was employing some of the most celebrated European and international circus acts of the time, it had incorporated an unusual travelling water spectacular to the show and it was touring around Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Italy.

At the end of the Second World War, Circus Busch, which was located in Saxony (Eastern Germany), found itself under communist ruling. Although initially it was allowed to operate as a private company, it was nationalised in 1951 and incorporated into the VEB Zentral-Zirkus, the State circus company of the German Democratic Republic in 1960. In spite of this the name Circus Busch retained its popularity and continued existing until the fall of the German Democratic Republic in 1990, when it was bought out by the Western German Circus Busch-Roland.

Parallel to this, in 1953, Carl Stelzenmüller, an alleged illegitimate son of Jakob Busch created the Carl Busch circus, which was bought by circus director Alfred Scholl in the early 1980s and later by Alfons Willeam (1941-2009), from the Wille circus family, who manage it today.

Found in 9 Collections and/or Records:

Christopher Palmer Collection

Reference code: NFA0105
Scope and Contents

Circus programmes and VHS tapes from Billy Smart’s Circus and Chipperfields’s Circus collected during the 1970s and early 1980s by the TV producer, Christopher John Palmer. There are also a number of promotional photographs of artistes and other ephemera related to the circus.

Dates: 1973 - 1983

Circus Bush and Bush Roland Programmes, 1952 - 1979

Reference code: 178K43.639
Scope and Contents

Circus Bush, Circus Roland and Circus Bush Roland programmes, containing colour illustrations and photographs on the front covers, inside black and white and colour photographs of perfomers and acts with text, introduction, programme and commercial advertising.

Dates: 1952 - 1979

Circus Friends Association Collection

Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Photographs and Postcards, c1800 - 1999

Reference code: 178C108
Scope and Contents

Black and white and colour photographs, negatives and photographic albums mainly containing images of British circus, circus performers, animals and circus personalities but also some menageries such as Bostock and Wombwell and other associated entertainments and non-British circuses taken by David Jamieson, Lindsay Temple, Den Curtis, Capt. Middleton, Jack Niblett and other photographers.

Dates: c1800 - 1999

Photographs of Hans Brick Animal Trainer and Circus Performers, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178C108.333-354
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs and postcards of people, animals and performers, including a portrait photograph of Hans Brick and photographs of Circus Busch with text in German and English and a small negative.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Programmes, 1970 - 1981

Reference code: 178K41
Scope and Contents

Programmes for various British and international circuses including Billy Russell's, Blackpool Tower, Fossett's, Chipperfield's and the Toni Boltini's Circus.

Dates: 1970 - 1981

Programmes, c1800 - 2019

Reference code: 178K43
Scope and Contents

A collection of mainly British and international circus programmes and some variety and music hall programmes containing circus acts.

Dates: c1800 - 2019

Trade and Advertising Material, c1900 - 1999

Reference code: 178I22
Scope and Contents

A range of items of promotion and advertising from a range of circus companies and performers, including artistes' photographs with act descriptions used for seeking employment in circuses and pamphlets advertising independent performances and circus companies' literature and souvenirs for public distribution and promotion including Gerry Cottle's Circus, Belle Vue, Blackpool Tower, Bertram Mills Circus, Gandey's, Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey, Knie and many more.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Various Circuses' Promotional Newspapers, c1950 - 1989

Reference code: 178I22.40
Scope and Contents

Various circuses' promotional newspapers including Circus Barlay, Gleich, Amar, Pinder, Cirque Rancy, Busch, Barum, Olympia, Chipperfield and Boswell and Wilkie, containing images and text including an article on the Chinese National Circus.

Dates: c1950 - 1989