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Barnum & Bailey Circus (1881 - 1919)

 Organisation

Dates

  • Existence: 1881 - 1919

Biography

Barnum & Bailey Circus was born in 1881 out of the merge of P.T. Barnum and William Cameron Coup’s circus and ‘Cooper and Bailey Circus’, founded by James Anthony Bailey and James E. Cooper.

The spectacle they travelled was of such mammoth proportions that they started to use three rings they were also one of the first circuses to move by train and probably the first one to own his own train.

Barnum and Bailey split up in 1885, but they reunited in 1888 with the ‘Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show On Earth’ and later ‘Barnum & Bailey Circus’ which toured the world.

After Barnum’s death in 1891, Bailey bought his share in the business and continued operating the show until 1897, when he took the circus to Europe for a five year tour. Barnum & Bailey visited the United Kingdom in 1889 and 1897 and had an enormous influence on how British circuses have been run since.

When Barnum and Bailey returned to American in 1902 they found that their biggest rivals, The Ringling Brothers, had taken over their usual travelling grounds in the east coast and they had to resettle on the west. Bailey died on 11 April 1906 and his circus was bought by The Ringling brothers a year later. The circuses were operated as two separate entities until 1919, when they were merged into one gigantic spectacle, the worldwide famous ‘Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus operated as the most successful American circus until 2017.

Found in 17 Collections and/or Records:

Barnum and Bailey Greatests Show on Earth Programme, Last six weeks, closing 2 April 1898

 Item
Reference code: 178K43.25
Scope and Contents

Twelve enourmeous canvas pavilions, Four hundred blue ribbon horse fair, Menaries of wild and trained beasts, The famous collection of wonderful freaks, Clowns, The Mahdi: or, For The Victoria Cross. Black type on off white background with black and white illustration of equestrian parade on top section, from The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News.

Dates: Last six weeks, closing 2 April 1898

Bertram Mills Circus Royal and Gala Performance Programmes, Great Carmo, Bostock and Wombwell's, and Bailey's Circus Programmes, c1900 - 1999

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178K43.586-609
Scope and Contents

Bertram Mills Circus Royal and Gala Performance programmes, Great Carmo's Circus, Bostock and Wombwell's menagerie and Bailey's Circus programmes.

Dates: c1900 - 1999

Circus Friends Association Collection

 Fonds
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

Circus Photographs, 1910 - 1964

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178C108.5141-5337
Scope and Contents Black and white and some colour photographs of circus scenes, animals, people and personalities including; Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Dame Laura Knight, Bertram Mills, Cyril Mills, Winston Churchill, Coco, Whimsical Walker, A. Pearson equestrian director at Bertram Mills Circus, Percy Huxter, Lulu Adams, Cissie Rosaire, Aubry Rosaire and Zena Rosaire, also Rosaire Circus, Bertam Mills Circus, Tom Arnold's Circus, Ginnett's and Fossett's Circus and a large Barnum shows...
Dates: 1910 - 1964

Circus Research Material, 1872 - 1975

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178B30.1
Scope and Contents Photocopies of programmes from the London Hippodrome, the National Amphitheatre, Hengler's Circus, Olympia, Hagenbeck's Wonder Zoo and Big Circus, Barnum and Bailey, Paulo's Circus, Chapman's Circus, Rosaire's Circus, Grand Continental Circus at the Crystal Palace, Barrett's Canadian Circus, Cody's Continental Circus, Pinder's Royal Circus and Menagerie and other UK and international circuses, also photocopies of newspaper cuttings, ordenance survey, photographs of performers and posters,...
Dates: 1872 - 1975

Early Circus Programmes, c1800 - 1999

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178K43.1-28
Scope and Contents

Early British circus and variety programmes including Astley's, Batty's and Lord George Sanger's circus.

Dates: c1800 - 1999

Early Circus Scrapbook, 1876 - 1893

 Item
Reference code: 178G21.77
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings and black and white illustrations, relating to multiple circuses and acts including Sanger's, Ginnett's and Barnum's, 80p.p.

Dates: 1876 - 1893

Early Circus Scrapbook, 1879 - 1898

 Item
Reference code: 178G21.78
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, programmes and black and white illustrations, relating to multiple circuses and acts including Barnum's, Chiarini's Royal Italian Circus, Ginnett's and Sanger's, 128p.p.

Dates: 1879 - 1898

Hassan Ali Envelope, 1899

 Item
Reference code: 178Z50.1
Scope and Contents

Brown envelope with text reading Hassan Ali, Egyptian Giant, Barnum and Bailey Show 1899.

Dates: 1899

Monographs, Articles, Manuscripts and Research Material, c1795 - 1999

 Series
Reference code: 178B30
Scope and Contents

Compilation of monographs, articles, manuscripts and a range of research material about circus companies and performers in the United Kingdom, Europe and other parts of the world by various authors, the research was mainly compiled by Hal Thomas.

Dates: c1795 - 1999

Newspaper Cuttings and Scapbooks, 1838 - 2007

 Series
Reference code: 178G21
Scope and Contents

A collection of newspaper cuttings on circus, circus proprietors and performers and scrapbooks containing newspaper cuttings, posters, programmes and other items of ephemera, covering mainly British circuses and venues such as Belle Vue and also some international circuses.

Dates: 1838 - 2007

Newspaper Cuttings Related to Circus and Performers, 1838 - 1947

 Sub-Series
Reference code: 178G21.2
Scope and Contents

Newspaper cuttings relating to circus and performers, including Barnum, The American Circus, The Alhambra Palace, Drury Lane Theatre, Pawnee Bill Wild West, Imre Kiralfy, Cirque Imperial de France, Zazel, The Theatrical Observer, The Graphic, The Illustrated London News and The Performer.

Dates: 1838 - 1947

Programmes, c1800 - 2019

 Series
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

Scrapbook of Multiple Circuses, 1939 - 1940

 Item
Reference code: 178G21.15
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of advertisments, newspaper cuttings and black and white photographs relating to multiple circuses and acts including Blackpool Tower, Barnum and Bailey, John Duffy and Sons, Chipperfield's and Rosaire's, 54p.p.

Dates: 1939 - 1940

Scrapbook of Multiple Circuses, 1928 - 1938

 Item
Reference code: 178G21.35
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, relating to multiple circuses and acts including Bertram Mills, Barnum and Bailey and George Sanger, 122p.p.

Dates: 1928 - 1938

Various Items, c1800 - 2019

 Series
Reference code: 178Z50
Scope and Contents

A range of circus related items related to Hassan Ali, Adha Issacs Menken, Barnum and Bailey, funeral items, illustrations of circus parades, circus tickets, discount vouchers and booking forms, circus themed stickers, famous clown clay models, circus themed jigsaw puzzles, circus model figures, comics books and children's books, Circus Friends Association related material, Montecarlo Circus Festival related items, Jesse Fossett's throwing knives and other items.

Dates: c1800 - 2019

Views and Order of the Procession, Barnum and Bailey Show Booklet, 1899

 Item
Reference code: 178Z50.4
Scope and Contents

Hard cover fold out booklet with red fabric spine and title printed on yellow paper and glued to the front cover, containing eight monocrhome views in red showing animals and carts parading with titles and order of the procession in the centre in red type for the Barnum and Bailey Show.

Dates: 1899