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Auction History Result

9k031 P.T. BARNUM'S TRAVELING WORLD'S FAIR 14x42 circus poster 1873 talking machine, 1,500 animals!

Date Sold 8/25/2016
Sold For: Login or Register to see sold price.


An Original Vintage Folded Circus Poster (measures 14 1/4" x 41 3/4" [36 x 106 cm]) (Learn More)

P.T. Barnum's Traveling World's Fair. the circa 1873 circus poster ("Museum, menagerie, caravan, hippodrome"; "Three times larger than ever."; "One hundred thousand curiosities"; "Prof. Faber's Wonderful Talking Machine"; "1,500 living animals!"; "Street pageant three miles long 12 golden chariots! 100 golden vans!"; "3 superior circus troupes!") promoting the P.T. Barnum circus. Note that this poster features images and illustrations of attractions at the circus, and it is no surprise that there is much exaggeration in the description of the attractions (for example, the "giant black rhinoceros" is described as being "six feet high and as large as an African Elephant"!). The poster has five artwork images (one of which shows Barnum himself) and has a great deal of text. We have no doubt that with considerable research, one could exactly date this poster, but after a moderate amount of research, we were able to determine it is almost certainly from the early 1870s, and quite likely from 1873 exactly, based on the attractions described. One of the most interesting attractions is "Professor Faber's Wonderful Talking Machine", which "sings, laughs, and talks in all languages". The poster says that Mr. Barnum paid $20,000 for the use of it for six months, but we also found reference in a book to famed magician Robert Houdin (from whom Houdini took his name) renting the same machine for six months for the same price, so we don't know the rest of that story! Certainly, it seems that this poster belongs in a museum!
If you know who did the art (if any), please let us know.
Important Added Info: Note that this poster was folded at one time but has been laying flat for a long time and will be sent rolled in a tube.

Note that this is one of 78 very rare posters (including 53 WWI and WWII posters and 18 stage play posters) that mostly date from 1888 to 1945. These were originally acquired by an archive decades ago, and they have been in storage ever since, until they were recently consigned to us. Many of these are the sorts of posters that you can find reproductions of on the Internet, but finding guaranteed originals like these is incredibly difficult (years can go by before these are offered for sale or at auction). This is a very rare opportunity to purchase any of these 78 posters (which even includes a remarkable 1873 P.T. Barnum poster from his "Traveling World's Fair")! Note that in June of 2016, we auctioned around 100 posters that were from this same archive. The 78 posters we are currently auctioning represent most of the remaining posters from this remarkable find (we certainly wish there were lots more, but unfortunately there are not, so this is likely your last opportunity to acquire these great rarities!).

Condition: good. The poster has tears and areas of paper loss around the edges. The vast majority of them do not affect the image or writing, but there is paper loss in the bottom left corner that slightly affects that image and the writing beneath it, and there is a thin strip of paper loss at the left end of the bottom horizontal fold that slightly affects that writing. The poster is very fragile and certainly needs expert care and preservation or restoration, but it seems remarkable that it has survived at all, and given that it is nearly 150 years old, it seems to have survived fairly well. But please look closely at our image before placing a bid on this wonderful poster!
Learn More about condition grades

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