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Circus Toys Delight Collectors as well as Children

by Larry Kellogg (01/05/10).

This children’s composition pull-toy is just one of the many products created to take advantage of Barnum’s famous attraction, Jumbo. Value of this toy is about $50. A similar toy is also a bank and sells for $15-30. It’s interesting that these toys depict an Asian elephant. Jumbo was an African elephant.

This children’s composition pull-toy is just one of the many products created to take advantage of Barnum’s famous attraction, Jumbo. Value of this toy is about $50. A similar toy is also a bank and sells for $15-30. It’s interesting that these toys depict an Asian elephant. Jumbo was an African elephant.

The circus has always been a popular theme for children’s toys, but these toys are seldom sought after by circus collectors. The exceptions are toys that have a direct link to actual traveling shows or circus exhibits. Often, these toys are licensed by the show. For more information on licensed items, see my story titled“The Ringling Name Sells Products and Expands the World of Circus Collectibles.”

In 1883 P.T. Barnum’s advance courier advertised Jumbo the elephant as “All-Famous and Gigantic Jumbo, the Mighty Lord of all Beasts and Alone the Show of Shows. The Largest Living Quadruped on Earth.” After nearly 20 years in the London Zoo, Jumbo was sold to Barnum for $10,000. Even following the death of Jumbo, who was struck by a train in 1885, the stuffed hide and skeleton continued to draw crowds.

The exhibition of the enormous elephant in America, created Jumbo-mania, and resulted in the name still being used to describe anything large. Hundreds of products were created to capitalize on the name, and many of these items were children’s toys.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey name has long been used to sell toys. In 1971 Mattel Toy Company came out with a vinyl carrying case containing a circus tent, three rings and many acts. A complete set sells for as much as $100. Here are just some of the many other items bearing the Ringling name.

This Circus Printing Set uses both the names Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and The Greatest Show On Earth. Printed on the side of the box is Stamper Kraft Set No. 4650, copyrighted by T.S.T. Co. Inside the box are papers with circus scenes.

This Circus Printing Set uses both the names Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey and The Greatest Show On Earth. Printed on the side of the box is Stamper Kraft Set No. 4650, copyrighted by T.S.T. Co. Inside the box are papers with circus scenes.

The various rubber stamps can be used to print images in the scenes. This set is complete with a stamp for a tiger, a pigmy elephant, a trainer, a clown, a clown car, a tight rope act and a lion. These sets have sold on the internet for as much as $95.

The various rubber stamps can be used to print images in the scenes. This set is complete with a stamp for a tiger, a pigmy elephant, a trainer, a clown, a clown car, a tight rope act and a lion. These sets have sold on the internet for as much as $95.

In the 1950s, the Post Toasties cereal company offered Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus toys as premiums in their cereal boxes. There were a total of 15 different numbered toys: #1 Jo Jo the Clown, #2 Jumbo the Elephant (shown here), #3 Rajah the Tiger, #4 Strong Man, #5 – Kangaroo, #6 Giraffe, #7 Monkey & Pig, #8 Emmett Kelly (shown here), #9 Molly the Bare-Back Rider, #10 Seal, #11 Ringmaster, #12 Dog and Duck, #13 Horse, #14 Bear, #15 Leo the Lion.

In the 1950s, the Post Toasties cereal company offered Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus toys as premiums in their cereal boxes. There were a total of 15 different numbered toys: #1 Jo Jo the Clown, #2 Jumbo the Elephant (shown here), #3 Rajah the Tiger, #4 Strong Man, #5 – Kangaroo, #6 Giraffe, #7 Monkey & Pig, #8 Emmett Kelly (shown here), #9 Molly the Bare-Back Rider, #10 Seal, #11 Ringmaster, #12 Dog and Duck, #13 Horse, #14 Bear, #15 Leo the Lion.

The two items pictured are the only two that were actual attractions. Emmett Kelly was performing in the show during that time, but Jumbo had been dead for decades. And again, the Jumbo pictured is an Asian elephant, not an African like Jumbo.

The two items pictured are the only two that were actual attractions. Emmett Kelly was performing in the show during that time, but Jumbo had been dead for decades. And again, the Jumbo pictured is an Asian elephant, not an African like Jumbo.

This Ringling Barnum Matchbox truck is fairly common and can be found for as little as $5.

This Ringling Barnum Matchbox truck is fairly common and can be found for as little as $5.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey came up with these watches as promotional items. In some markets, the watches were given away free on certain nights with the purchase of a ticket. On the internet you can find them for as little as $1.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey came up with these watches as promotional items. In some markets, the watches were given away free on certain nights with the purchase of a ticket. On the internet you can find them for as little as $1.

Hallmark Card Company sold dolls in the “Famous Americans Series” in the late 1970s. Two dolls in the series depict Annie Oakley, star of Buffalo Bill’s Real Wild West and legendary showman P.T. Barnum.

Hallmark’s Annie Oakley doll was issued in February 1979.

Hallmark’s Annie Oakley doll was issued in February 1979.

The P.T. Barnum doll followed in August 1979. The dolls can be found for $5-10 each.

The P.T. Barnum doll followed in August 1979. The dolls can be found for $5-10 each.

The Annie Oakley doll is almost always advertised with a box but I have never seen a box for the Barnum doll.

The Annie Oakley doll is almost always advertised with a box but I have never seen a box for the Barnum doll.

Dover Publications has published at least two books of interest to circus collectors. One features cut & assemble circus parade wagons. The other has paper dolls of Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and other performers with the Wild West show.

Cut & Assemble a Circus Parade,” by A.G. Smith, was published by Dover in 1985. Prices on the internet range from $3 to $60. One of the parade wagons, the Two Jesters Calliope, depicts an actual circus wagon which is now in the Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota, Florida.

Cut & Assemble a Circus Parade,” by A.G. Smith, was published by Dover in 1985. Prices on the internet range from $3 to $60. One of the parade wagons, the Two Jesters Calliope, depicts an actual circus wagon which is now in the Ringling Circus Museum in Sarasota, Florida.

Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Paper Dolls in Full Color,” by Tom Tierney was published by Dover in 1991. Prices on the internet range from $1 to $16.

Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Paper Dolls in Full Color,” by Tom Tierney was published by Dover in 1991. Prices on the internet range from $1 to $16.

Circus toy trucks and other circus vehicles have been produced by a number of manufacturers including Mattel, Ertl and Corgi.

This Ertl Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus Truck is also a bank. I’ve seen this sell for as little as $10 and as much as $60.

This Ertl Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus Truck is also a bank. I’ve seen this sell for as little as $10 and as much as $60.

Ertl produced four semi-trailers with the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus name. Two are shown here—a side show banner truck and a ticket truck.

Ertl produced four semi-trailers with the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. Circus name. Two are shown here—a side show banner truck and a ticket truck.

The others in the series were a concessions truck and a different side show banner truck. The price range on these trucks is wide-ranging, from $10 to $50 each.

The others in the series were a concessions truck and a different side show banner truck. The price range on these trucks is wide-ranging, from $10 to $50 each.

Corgi Chipperfield models are very popular. In fact this book, “Chipperfield’s Circus: An Illustrated History,” by David Jamieson, features six pages of text and illustrations of the Corgi models. Note that the Corgi models are highlighted in the lower corner of the book cover.

Corgi Chipperfield models are very popular. In fact this book, “Chipperfield’s Circus: An Illustrated History,” by David Jamieson, features six pages of text and illustrations of the Corgi models. Note that the Corgi models are highlighted in the lower corner of the book cover.

The book itself is valued at $100 to $200. Some of the individual trucks sell in excess of $100 and some can be found for as little as $10. In a recent eBay auction a set of 14 Corgi Chipperfield vehicles sold for $636.27.

The book itself is valued at $100 to $200. Some of the individual trucks sell in excess of $100 and some can be found for as little as $10. In a recent eBay auction a set of 14 Corgi Chipperfield vehicles sold for $636.27.

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Larry Kellogg is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in circus memorabilia.

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One Response to “Circus Toys Delight Collectors as well as Children”

  1. hi my name is brandon an i have these circus parade doll that ive had for year now im ready to depart with them an dont kno where to take them to sell or how much there worth so can u please help me
    you can reach me at 412 805 2042
    thanks an have a great day

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