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Is That Old Circus Poster You Found Authentic or a Reproduction?

by Larry Kellogg (11/03/08).

1922 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – White Face Clown on left

So you’ve just found the most amazing circus poster online and want to bid on it. Or maybe you are thinking about buying one at an antique mall. How do you know it is real? Could it be a reproduction? You aren’t sure. What can you do?

Size is the first clue about whether or not a poster is original. The majority of collectible posters are one-sheet (28 inches by 42 inches) or half-sheet. But posters also came in larger sizes — three-sheet, six-sheet, nine-sheet, 16-sheet, 20-sheet, 28-sheet and many other sizes. One of the largest ever produced was for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West, a gigantic 108-sheet billboard.

For more information about reproduciton circus posters, read “Is That Old Circus Poster You Found Authentic or a Reproduction? More Answers.”

The circus poster reproductions seen most often are the six printed in 1960 by Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin and the vast assortment printed by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey beginning in the early 1970s and continuing through the early 1980s. Those are the ones we will concentrate on in this article. Some of those posters are shown above.

Al G. Barnes Circus Tiger Riding Elephant

Circus World Museum posters

The posters printed by Circus World Museum measure 13 ¼ inches by 19 inches each. If they haven’t been altered it’s easy to identify them because in the lower left border it says “Copyright 1960 Circus World Museum.” But I have seen these in antique shows with that line trimmed off and being passed off as original. Sometimes they are neatly framed and matted. The posters were originally sold as a set in a folder that said “Old Time Circus Posters – Six Colorful, Authentic Reproductions – Each Resplendent and Spectacular Reproduction is an Eye Feast of Beauty That Captures All the Unparalleled Magnificence of the Original Poster.”

The titles and images of the six posters are:

Ringling Bros. – Army of 50 Clowns
Barnum & Bailey – Peerless Prodigies of Physical Phenomena . . .
Barnum & Bailey – The Meers Sisters
Al G. Barnes Circus – Tiger riding on an elephant
Adam Forepaugh & Sells Bros. – Automobile Double Forward Somersault
Forepaugh & Sells Brothers – Hippopotamus & Rhinoceros

Ringling Bros. – Army of 50 Clowns

Barnum & Bailey – Peerless Prodigies …

Barnum & Bailey – The Meers Sisters

Adam Forepaugh & Sells Bros. – Automobile

Forepaugh & Sells Brothers – Hippo & Rhino

Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey posters

In the early 1970s Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey began reproducing many of their historic posters. They were advertised as “The Only Antique Posters Authorized by The Greatest Show On Earth.” These reproductions were sold at the concessions stands on the traveling shows and by mail as advertised in the souvenir program book. They were also sold in the gift shops at their theme park, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus World, which opened in 1974 in central Florida near Disney World.

Beginning with the 100th Anniversary Program in 1970, some of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey programs had poster reproductions inserted in the program book. These varied in size, but were about 16 inches by 20 inches. It’s easy to identify them because they were folded in quarters and have staple holes where they were inserted into the program. They continued this for several years.

In 1970 the 100th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey souvenir program advertised a set of four posters measuring 26 inches x 17 inches for $3.98 per set.

Those posters were:

Barnum & Bailey – Tiger Head – Blue Background
Barnum & Bailey – 1000 Skits by 50 Original Clowns
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Giraffe Neck Women from Burma
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Dainty Miss Leitzel

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Giraffe Neck Women

Barnum & Bailey – 1000 Skits by 50 Original Clowns

Barnum & Bailey – Tiger Head, Blue

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Dainty Miss Leitzel

Individual Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey posters

Starting in 1971 individual posters could be ordered from the souvenir program book. They were advertised as approximately 24 inches by 17 inches. All of these posters had an order number printed in the lower corner which begins with the letter “P.”

Here’s a list of these posters:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Chariot Races, Blue Background

1897 – Ringling Bros., Three Famous Aerial Artists

P-103 – 1935 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Chariot Races – Blue Background
P-104 – 1897 – Ringling Bros. – Three Famous Aerial Artists
P-105 – 1904 – Barnum & Bailey – The Great Florenz Troupe
P-109 – 1921 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Polar Bear – Red Background
P-113 – 1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Gargantua the Great
P-114 – 1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Terrell Jacobs & Lions
P-116 – 1888 – Ringling Bros. – Portraits of the five brothers
P-117 – 1927 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – May Wirth
P-118 – 1933 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Felix and 99 other Famous Clowns
P-123 – 1904 – Barnum & Bailey – Blue Ribbon Winners – High Jumpers
P-125 – 1917 – Barnum & Bailey – Clown Standing over Tents – Blue Background
P-127 – 1920 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Worlds Biggest Menagerie – Elephant Head & other Animals
P-128 – 1916 – Barnum & Bailey – By the Hair of their Heads
P-131 – 1900 – Barnum & Bailey – Clown Band – German Text
P-132 – 1915 – Barnum & Bailey – Great Groups of Trained Wild Beasts including Mlle. Adgie
P-136 – 1928 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Crouching Lion
P-137 – 1895 – Ringling Bros. Mlle Elena
P-141 – 1922 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – White Face Clown on left
P-143 – 1916 – Barnum & Bailey – Pallenberg – Bears That Dance
P-144 – 1913 – Barnum & Bailey – Great Free Street Parade
P-146 – 1916 – Barnum & Bailey – Roaring Tiger Head
P-149 – 1936 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Seated Clowns with Circus on their backs
P-152 – 1900 – Ringling Bros. – Portraits of the five brothers
P-153 – 1897 – Barnum & Bailey – Portraits of Barnum & Bailey
P-155 – 1932 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – 5 Big Herds of Performing Elephants
P-157 – 1903 – Barnum & Bailey – Miss Helen Girard
P-158 – 1906 – Barnum & Bailey – A Whole Horse Show
P-159 – 1925 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Chariot Races- Red Background
P-162 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Giraffe Neck Women
P-202 – 1883 – Buffalo Bill’s Wild West – Featuring Indians

1904 – Barnum & Bailey, The Great Florenz Troupe

1904 – Barnum & Bailey; The Great Florenz Troupe

 

1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Gargantua the Great

1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Gargantua the Great

 

1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Terrell Jacobs & Lions

1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Terrell Jacobs & Lions

 

1888 – Ringling Bros. – Portraits of the five brothers

1888 – Ringling Bros. – Portraits of the five brothers

 

1927 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; May Wirth

1933 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Felix and 99 other Famous Clowns

1920 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Worlds Biggest Menagerie – Elephant Head

1916 – Barnum & Bailey; By the Hair of their Heads

1904 – Barnum & Bailey; Blue Ribbon Winners – High Jumpers

1904 – Barnum & Bailey; Blue Ribbon Winners – High Jumpers

1917 – Barnum & Bailey; Clown Standing over Tents – Blue Background

1917 – Barnum & Bailey; Clown Standing over Tents – Blue Background

1900 – Barnum & Bailey; Clown Band – German Text

1900 – Barnum & Bailey; Clown Band – German Text

1915 – Barnum & Bailey; Great Groups of Trained Wild Beasts

1915 – Barnum & Bailey; Great Groups of Trained Wild Beasts

1900 – Ringling Bros.; Portraits of the five brothers

1900 – Ringling Bros.; Portraits of the five brothers

1897 – Barnum & Bailey – Portraits of Barnum & Bailey

1897 – Barnum & Bailey – Portraits of Barnum & Bailey

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey posters – Larger size

1936 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Seated Clowns

1932 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – 5 Big Herds of Performing Elephants

1906 – Barnum & Bailey; A Whole Horse Show

1903 – Barnum & Bailey; Miss Helen Girard

In 1976, the 105th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Program began to advertise the posters as 23 ½ inches by 36 ¼ inches. Sometimes they were advertised as 2 feet by 3 feet. Many were the same images as sold before, only the size was larger.

Here’s a list of those posters:

P-1 – 1883 – Buffalo Bill’s Wild West – Featuring Indians
P-2 – 1895 – Ringling Bros. Mlle Elena
P-3 – 1916 – Barnum & Bailey – Pallenberg – Bears That Dance
P-4 – 1916 – Barnum & Bailey – Roaring Tiger Head
P-5 – 1917 – Barnum & Bailey – Clown Standing over Tents – Blue Background
P-6 – 1920 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Worlds Biggest Menagerie – Elephant Head & other Animals
P-7 – 1921 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Polar Bear – Red Background
P-8 – 1925 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Chariot Races- Red Background
P-9 – 1928 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Crouching Lion
P-10 – 1933 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Felix and 99 other Famous Clowns
P-11 – 1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Terrell Jacobs & Lions
P-12 – 1938 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Gargantua the Great
P-20 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Seal Act
P-24 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Seven Clown Heads
P-25 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Trains more than one a third mile long
P-26 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Congress of World Famous Horse Acts
P-27 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey – Leaping Tiger
P-28 – P.T. Barnum & Great London Circus – Jumbo the Elephant
P-29 – Barnum & Bailey – Four Giraffes

In the 1978 souvenir program the numbers following the letter “P” were incorrect and did not match the numbers on the posters, but that was corrected the following year.

1921 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Polar Bear, Red Background

 

1925 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Chariot Races, Red Background

1928 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Crouching Lion

 

1883 – Buffalo Bill’s Wild West; Featuring Indians

1895 – Ringling Bros.; Mlle Elena

1916 – Barnum & Bailey; Pallenberg – Bears That Dance

Barnum & Bailey; Four Giraffes

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Seven Clown Heads

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Seven Clown Heads

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Trains more than one a third mile long

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Trains more than one a third mile long

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Congress of World Famous Horse Acts

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Congress of World Famous Horse Acts

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Leaping Tiger

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey; Leaping Tiger

Beware of cheap circus poster reproductions

There are many circus poster reproductions, but the ones listed above seem to be the most common. They are frequently up for auction on eBay and are regularly seen in antique shows and malls. None of these posters have much value—less than $5 each—but they are sometimes advertised as “guaranteed original,” with prices in the hundreds of dollars. Usually, the seller really believes they are authentic and isn’t trying to rip you off.

If you just want to decorate your walls and don’t care about value, there are some nice reproductions and they are not hard to find. Just be very careful when you want to buy an original.

Larry Kellogg is a WorthPoint Worthologist specializing in circus memorabilia.

WorthPoint—Discover Your Hidden Wealth

 

 

273 Responses to “Is That Old Circus Poster You Found Authentic or a Reproduction?”

  1. Adam says:

    I recently saw a Clyde Beatty Cole Poster with a laughing clown above a silhouette of the circus for sale at an antique shop. The seller said it was an original from the 1960′s. Is this piece authentic, and what value does it have?

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Thank you for your question. The purpose of this response section is to ask questions or make comments about the article above. I am not allowed to evaluate items here. I can tell you that the poster you describe is an original. If you will click on the “Research Your Items” tab you will find two ways to find advice about value—the “Worthopedia – Price Guide” and “Ask a Worthologist – Expert Advice.”

  2. Nate says:

    Hello, I saw a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey poster at a antique store the other day. According to the clerk it is a 1970′s. It has a picture of a Lion on the top and a Tiger on the bottom of the poster. Is their a way that I can determine if it is real or fake? Thanks for your time, Nate!

  3. JAN ALBERT says:

    Hi Larry, thanks for your excellent article.

    Did not see my poster of a black panther mentioned. It says P18-118 on the lower left margin.

    Figure it’s a repro but it’s a great image with an orange background so I’ll probably frame anyway

    Best, JAN

  4. Matt says:

    Greetings,

    Jennifer at Ringling.org suggested that you might be able to provide me with additional information regarding a Barnum and Bailey “Greatest Show on Earth” 2-sheet that I have. The poster was framed when I acquired it and is roughly 35×47(h) inches. The image shows portraits of both Barnum and Bailey similar to the one you have titled “1897 – Barnum & Bailey – Portraits of Barnum & Bailey”.
    I am unable to see the lower left corner of the poster without removing it from the frame, which I am not sure I want to do at this point. However, the white border around the poster does appear to be intact where it is visible along the upper edge of the poster. In the upper left-hand corner (above the colored portion of the print) it states “B No. 16″.
    The poster is in relatively good shape with only slight fading, some visual signs that it was stored rolled up, and one tear toward the center of the print.
    I would like to determine if this print is original and during what season it would most likely have been used. Any information that you can provide is greatly appreciated.

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Matt,
      The poster is definitely an original. It’s a unique two-sheet format. It is probably from 1897 to the early 1900s. I am not allowed to evaluate items here. If you will click on the “Research Your Items” tab you will find two ways to find advice about value—the “Worthopedia – Price Guide” and “Ask a Worthologist – Expert Advice.”

  5. Anne Killian says:

    Hi Larry!
    I have an 18 by 13 inch poster that reads “Al G. Barnes Wild Animal Circus A Truly Big Show” with a tiger riding an elephant. It reads “Copyright 1960 Circus World Museum” in the lower left corner. I’m guessing it’s part of that collection of six you described above but please advise what the poster might be worth. Thanks so much, Larry.

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Anne,
      You are correct. The poster you describe is part of the collection of six I describe in the article. These posters have very little value – less than $5 each.

  6. Ben L. Bason says:

    I have about 20 Ringlng Bros Combine Circus
    Barnum & Bailey I have had them for years
    wishing to sell them Live in Whiting, NJ 08759
    Taken pictures of same….

  7. Lorie says:

    Larry,

    I found a cardboard free standing Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus poster, bright and vivid with color and feturing monkey clowns and an elephant. There is a paper label on poster that reads, “Allentown Fair Grounds” “Afternoon & Night” “Sat. June 3″ pasted nicely on the the elephants stool. Poster is signed on bottom, “Copyright 1944″ and “Lawson Wood”. It is more of a cut out heavy cardboard stock with a kick stand in the back. The back has a label stating it is property of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey combined shows Inc and then goes on to say that it is available to any fan who wants it after the show and the name Arthur R Hooper, General Agent. It appears ages and original in good but not perfect condition with some edge wear, minor tears, etc. What can you tell me about it and when can I get an approximate estimate of it’s value? Thank you.

  8. Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

    The 1944 date is the date the the cut-out was originally printed. The one you have is from 1950. That’s the year Ringling played Allentown on Saturday, June 3. If you will click on the “Research Your Items” tab you will find two ways to find advice about value—the “Worthopedia – Price Guide” and “Ask a Worthologist – Expert Advice.”

  9. I have an 1899 28X42 inch poster by the Fair Publishing House, Norwalk Ohio advertising Fairview Ohio Fair Sept 5,6,7,8,1899. It has a 19 X 27 inch chromolithograph showing two pacers with small wheels which came into use around 1897 for standardbred racing. Was this piece reproduced? The chromolitho bears the number 1114 in the stone plate and at the bottom advertises other fairs to ask for sample prices for this art poster.(Presumably advertising for the Publishing Co.) Real or repro. Appreciate any input.

  10. John McLaughlin says:

    Mr. Kellog,

    Hope you can help.

    The actual Litho is 14″ W x 7-3/4″ H and is floated in the middle of the background piece.
    The overall size of the framed piece is: 20″ W x 14″ H.
    The Background has the following in the upper left hand corner: “Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year” in a banner style”. In the lower right side of the background is the following Printed: ” Arthur R Hooper, General Agent and Traffic Manager.Also on the lower left by the Elephants is printed “Bill Bailey”.In the left lower hand corner of the middle section it says: Copyright 1945 Ringling Bros and Bailey Combined Shows Inc. In the right hand corner of the middle section is says: Litho in U.S.A. All around the outside Banner are pictures of various circus animals
    The inside Litho is a three ring circus that I have found registered in the Library of Congress, in the rare prints section, except in a larger size. From Research I can find that Arthur Hooper was the Traffic Manager for only 2 years one being 1945.
    Have you ever seen another or heard of this Christmas/New Years Combination?

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      John,

      Yes I have seen this card. It is one of the many Christmas cards produced by Ringling over the years. Various department heads and employees would have their name imprinted on the card to send to their friends, relatives and business associates. Arthur Hooper held various positions in the Advertising Department from 1937 through 1947. I have written an article for Worthpoint about Circus Christmas Cards. Here’s a link to that article:http://www.worthpoint.com/article/circus-christmas-cards-colorful

      • John McLaughlin says:

        Mr.Kellogg,

        As the saying goes, you my friend, are a scholar and a gentleman. I never saw a card this large and in such good shape. To find it in a Goodwill online was odd. The size really threw me off when I found it in the Library of Congress. The actual outside Litho is 19 x 13 so eventhough I, at first, thought it could be a Card, the shear size of it dis-swayed me from that stream of thought. There are no creases, so I guess the owner kept this one to frame. Thank you again for clearing this up. Great Article.

  11. jake howard says:

    hey larry i have a GARGANTUA the GREAT poster i am trying to figure out if its orginal or if not or if its even worth anything i found it in my grandfathers attic and in dicent shape.. it has a autograph of someones name above the…. and …between ringling and barnum

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Check out the sizes of the reproductions in the article above. That should be your main clue. If it is a repro it has little value.

      • jake howard says:

        ok thanks Mr. Kellogg come to find out i looked at its dememinsions and it is most likely from the 1976 ed of 105th because it matches those dimisions but it is also signed by someone one so i dont know if it would be worth anything still or just another 5$ poster

  12. Lori says:

    Larry,

    I have a vintage circus poster with bright and vivid colors of red with black and yellow lettering. It reads, “Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus” and has “The Greatest Show on Earth” inside a globe on the bottom right. In the center there is box the reads “Buy War Bonds”. On the left it features the illustration of a roaring tiger from the chest up with black grass around it. There are no markings on it but it appears old. The bottom has some minor damage where it appears as though it contained something once added/glued onto it of perhaps a show advertisement? It is about 28″ by 21 1/2″. Can you tell me anything about it?
    Thank you

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      From the size I’m sure it is an original. The “Buy War Bonds” obviously indicates it is from the World War II era. I would need to see the poster to give any additonal information.

  13. Hi Larry,I have a ringling bros and barnum and bailey combined poster.A clown tipping his hat while standing over the circus tents .The clown has a yellow outfit on and yellow background.can you tell me if this poster may be real ? I couldnt find any markings to indicate a reproduction.thanks for taking my question.

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      David,

      It’s probably a reproduction. Check the size and read the article above which gives the sizes or original posters and repros.

  14. I Have two posters from Ringling Bros-Barnum & Bailey Combined Circus. Both Measure 24 1/2″ by 36 1/4″. The first one is marked P-25____125 and had trains and animals reading “These Trains more than one and one third miles long loaded with ten thousand wonders from every land” and The other is marked P-31____131 and has a lot of zoo animals.. They both are very Beautiful but somewhat muted and the backs are yellowish. I only want to know if they are originals so that i may put UV protected glass on them instead of just poster glass. Thank You So Much

  15. ronnie says:

    I have a 1978 mag in mint condition with a 37×23 1977 g novoa poster inside.
    could this be worth anything?

  16. Julio says:

    I own an original 1917 p-5 (clown standing over tent)and I was trying to find out how much its worth. I’ve heard over $500 but still would like other opinions. How much is my original worth?

  17. CSJ says:

    I have three large circus posters 24 x 36″ with the P label in the lower left corner followed by a number. Under magnification, I noticed a dot matrix in the printing.

    Are these reproductions? Would an authentic lithograph have a dot matrix?

    Thank you.

  18. Dan says:

    Hi Larry, I was very interested in purchasing a vintage B&B circus poster that I saw of a snarling leopard. It is 28″x42″ and looks in immaculate condition (which scares me a little). Any advice? Thank you

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Dan,

      The poster size indicates that it is an original. You say Barnum & Bailey but do you mean Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey? Is the image a leopard head on a green background? If so you can do a search on Worthpoint.com by clicking on the “Research Your Items” tab and then clicking on “Worthopedia Price Guide.” Enter the words Leopard Circus Poster and you will find some images of your poster and you can see what prices they brought. You must sign up to see these prices.

      • Dan says:

        Thank you for responding Larry, yes you are correct it is a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey poster with a green background. It says it is from 1969, and has a white box under the leopard at the bottom which was left blank for some reason.

        • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

          The location and dates of performance were printed in the white box.

          • Dan says:

            Would it be odd the find one with a blank box? Does that mean it was an extra of some kind?

          • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

            Dan,
            It’s not unusual to find a poster like yours with the blank area. The posters were printed that way in large quantities and an allotment was imprinted with the location and dates for each engagement.

  19. lisa says:

    my sister bought a old antique house and in the attic was alot of stuff and my mom found a old leaping tiger circus poster dated 1915 i am not sure if that is the print number or the date in is wrote it does not look printed it had been folded so mother and put it in a poster frame it is flatted out and in good shape was wondering the value , feel sure it is a original

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Lisa,

      First you should determine whether or not the poster is an original. The best way to do that is to measure it and compare the size with the sizes of the reproductions above. I am not allowed to evaluate items here. If you will click on the “Research Your Items” tab you will find two ways to find advice about value—the “Worthopedia – Price Guide” and “Ask a Worthologist – Expert Advice.”

  20. Rick says:

    In one of the walls of my 1865 house, I found a poster for the Great European Circus, which visted Montpelier, Vermont in 1865. The cost of admission was .50 cents. Could you please let me know if this a common poster?

    Thanks,

    Rick

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Rick,

      No the poster is not common. What is the condition?

      • Carol says:

        Hi Larry,
        I read your article simply by a fluke of my searching for my Great Uncle Bill on the internet. I found your article about Bill and Charlotte. From your article I understand you and Charlotte were friends back in the Circus Days. I am doing genealogy work and would like to correspond with you about Charlotte and Bill. Would you please contact me.
        Thank you.

  21. Shawn says:

    I have an 8 sheet Ringling Bros poster with a tigers head on a green field. I haven’t found any information on this. Anything will help.

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Shawn,

      In the article above I discuss poster sizes. The poster you describe frequently shows up in the 8-sheet size. It’s a dramatic image but in this large size it doesn’t have as much value as a smaller version. This is because it is so difficult to display in the average home. A poster like this is better suited for a museum.

  22. Marc Chiesa says:

    Larry:

    I have a poster that seems to be of the P-20 type advertising trained seals. It is a large 30 s 60 with a banner at the bottom for show times in Grant Park in Chicago. For what year was this poster made.

  23. Robert says:

    Hello, we just bought a poster that looks exactly like 1897 – Barnum & Bailey – Portraits of Barnum & Bailey — but the size of the poster is 22 inches by a little over 28 inches (part of the border has been removed so it was longer)
    The poster was in a frame, and the paper is a thick paper. Is this an original poster?

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Robert,

      A poster that size could be an orignal half-sheet but because it was trimmed, without seeing it I couldn’t be sure.

  24. Edith says:

    Hi I was given a poster of the Barun and Bailey poster its in a frame and it has the stamp of 1917 its 2 giraffe’s at the bottom it says EXCLUSIVE RARE ZOOLOGICAL FEATURES. Do you think this could be a knock off? Unfortunately i cannot open the frame to feel the paper but its a good 3ft by 2ft. If you can please give me some advise on how i can tell. Thank you

  25. Edith says:

    Hi I was given a poster of the Barun and Bailey poster its in a frame and it has the stamp of 1917 its 2 giraffe’s at the bottom it says EXCLUSIVE RARE ZOOLOGICAL FEATURES. Do you think this could be a knock off? Unfortunately i cannot open the frame to feel the paper but its a good 3ft by 2ft. If you can please give me some advise on how i can tell. Thank you

    ****Correction it has 4 Giraffe’s

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Edith,

      The size (2 ft by 3 ft) indicates it is a reproduction. It is probably blocked by the frame but the bottom corner of the reproduction should have the order number P-29.

  26. jim mickolas says:

    i have a big golden picture book named the circus and says 8 big full size posters and has ringling bros and barnum and bailey and sells and floto and forepaugh and sells bros and hagenbeck wallace posters in it.the pack is still in plastic wrapper its date says 1979 and is 15 and a half inches by 20 and a half inches any idea about value on this or how many are published or any info would be great….

    • Larry Kellogg Larry says:

      Jim,

      Poster reproduction books have little value. I would need to see your book to give more information.

  27. Larry,

    I have 10 rather flimsy Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Cirus posters.

    Some have 1944 and 1945 in the left-hand corners.

    Actually, they read, ” copyright 1944 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows Inc.

    Above that is the name Maxwell Fredric Coplan

    This particular on is of a clown’s face with a blue backgroud and on the bottom it says, ” See You at—
    (then it leads to the GSOE icon.

    it measures roughly 21 x 28

    Is this a reproduction?

    Thanks,

    Dallas

    dallas@dmem1.org

  28. Bryant says:

    Great article. I have a Ringling Bros and Barnum and Baily, Gargantua the Great poster. Its framed but the approximate size is 2′x3′. The number in the corner is P-12 -792.

    The closest match to it seems to be the 1976, 105th Edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey posters listed above. Its ID# is P-12 – 1938.

    I have a feeling, based upon where I found it, that this poster is a much more modern reproduction. Any information would be great. Thank you!

  29. Joel Noble says:

    I have a Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey poster with illustration by Lawson Wood. Graphic has a sign that states, way in, with an elephant holding out a pan with his trunk for the admission fee, which is two nuts. One chimp is playing the trombone with a band hat on. A family of chimps is ready to enter, a pig is sticking his head out of the tent.

    I have seen different versions, one with a blue Greatest Show on Earth globe, one with a yellow globe, and one with no globe. The one I have, has the yellow globe. I think it is reproduction from the 60’s. Is that correct?

    • Larry Kellogg Joel says:

      Joel,

      Lawson Wood originally created artwork for Ringling in 1943. He was famous for his cover illustrations for Collier’s magazine. I would need a little more information to give you a definitive answer about your poster. What is the size of the poster? Is it possible for you to send a .jpg to my email address (lkellogg@tampabay.rr.com)? You are correct that Ringling Bros. did sell reproductions of this poster around 1964.

  30. Larry Kellogg Joel says:

    Joel,

    Based on the size I would say it is an original.

  31. Gary says:

    I recently seen a roughly 18 x 24 sign/poster of Gargantua (the largest gorilla ever exhibited) at an antique store.
    It seems to be printed on some sort of heavy plastic that is translucent. There just the words “Litho in U.S.” written on the bottom left. There are two cleanly punched holes at the top left and right. Is this an original advertisement used by Barnum and Bailey? When could it have been made? Thanks.

  32. doug says:

    i have a framed picture of p-24 seven clown heads, it is hard cardboard, very shinny, has a gold frame around it, manufactured by Dover Publications #0-486-5965-6 is on the right bottom corner, what can you tell me about it , wondering when it was made, foung it in a goodwill store

  33. Edward says:

    I just want to know if the posters I have are original or reproduction. I have 3 “Leaping Tiger” posters that are approximately 24.5″ X 16.5″ and have no serial number. They do have a faint 1923 in the lower right corner and no staple marks. I appreciate any help.

  34. shannon ferguson says:

    I have a Ringling brothers Mile Elana I am not sure if it is real and if it is what it is worth. I could send a picture of it.

    • Larry Kellogg Shannon says:

      The poster you have is probably the one I mention in the article above: P-137 – 1895 – Ringling Bros. Mlle Elena.
      If the size of your poster is about 24 x 17 it is a reproduction. It might also have the P-137 code in the corner.

  35. Stehanie says:

    I have two of the org. posters from the 100th anniversary souvenir program book. I wanted to know how much they are worth. They were never taking out of the book. The two posters are 1888 Ringling bros.Portraits of the five brothers. The other one is of Dainty Miss Leitzel.

  36. I have one of the Ringling/Barnum&Bailey posters with the black rhino charging. I’ve owned it at least since 1975 when it was on the wall in my dorm room. I think I bought at a shop in Manhattan. The poster is in two pieces which together are about 6 ft. high by 10 ft. wide. It has been sitting on a shelf folded for most of the time since. Some of the creases are split and I think I reinforced a few with masking tape on the back. I’ve seen smaller version sell for $300+.

    My question is what to do with it ? It feels wrong to just toss it. I don’t really have a place to display it. Princeton doesn’t want for their collection. It should be worth something. “Restoring” it with a cloth backing would probably cost me at least $1,000 that I don’t have right now. So, I’m looking for options/ideas.

  37. Renee says:

    My neighbor is 87 years old and was associated with the ringling brother circus and attended circus shows all over the country. He primarily helped care for and train the animals, particularly lions and tigers (I saw photos of this!!!). He has a great deal of circus memorabilia and would like me to sell some of these on eBay. He does not know what they are worth as they were given to him by the circus and at the shows. He has given me 3 posters to start out with and I can’t find them anywhere on the internet. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. The first poster says “Ringling Bros World’s Largest Menagerie” “Original Ringling Bros. Poster – 1909″ It has the faces of the Ringling bros in the corner above a menagerie of animals, copywright 1909 by The Strobridge Litho Co. It is printed on a 14 x 16 cardboard and looks like it was glued to corkboard and has many small tack holes in it. The next one says “Ringling Bros World’s Greatest Shows” “The Four McCrees – America’s foremost equestrians.” It also has the faces of the Ringling bros in the corner above people standing on 3 horses, copywright 1910 by The Strobridge Litho Co. It is printed on a 18 x 24 cardboard and is glued to a corkboard, there are some light stains on it. Last but not least is a 1989 poster that appears to be on card stock. It is 22 x 14 and says “Kenneth Feld present The Greatest Show on Earth, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Baily brought to you by” and then there are 5 elephants with Jif, Crisco Oil, Duncan Hines, Pringle’s and Crisco written in them. There is 1 large tiger. At the bottom it says “Dec. 27 thru 30 Circus Arena.” copywright Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combines Show, Inc. 1989. Any advise???

  38. michael davis says:

    i have two pictures, they are both 10×8 lithos on old presswood backings almost like cork. one is the army of clowns print. and the other is a bunch of different animals with two monkeys in the center almost manlike in appearance. there are dates of copyright 1910 and 1909. they appear original but i cant tell. do you have any idea?

  39. Kenneth Florey says:

    Larry,
    I picked up a Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey poster recently at a book auction entitled “The Children’s Favorite Clown.” The image is 11 7/8″ x 15 7/8″ on paper stock, and with the border (which is about 1/2″) slightly and somewhat crudely trimmed, it comes to 13 1/8″ x 17″. It came in an old frame, and while I suppose the light trimming could have been done to eliminate a modern copyright notice, it also could have been done to make the poster fit the frame (which it just barely does). There is no question that the poster has age to it. In fact, there is some staining at the top that has gone through the poster that apparently came from a highly acidic backing at one point. There is also age toning to the entire piece. The image itself has a black border (prior to the white). Going on-line, I see that modern reproductions of this image seem to be without that black border. Anyway, based on my description, is it possible to tell if this is a reproduction or an original? Thanks!

  40. Michael Rumble says:

    Hi;

    What does P-6—786 stand for in the bottom left hand corner of my circus poster?

    Thanks
    Mike

  41. Kale S says:

    Found a old poster still in sealed type frame so didnt wanna tear open but i see no numbers indicating its a copy curious if you could tell me anythin about it plz! Its copyrighted 1910 by Strobridge Litho Co and its a Ringling Bros Worlds Greatest Shows and The Four McCree’s Americas Foremost Equestrians and theres 3 dif pics sorted on it on bare backs of horses. my mother sd it hung in her room in 60′s when she was child. is this original? is there value w/ it or just cool memories?

  42. nick sorensen says:

    i have a barnum and bailey greatest show on earth 14by 18 1/2 border on top and bottum and 1/4 on the sides 13-b(?)no 221 in the right corner says attraction extraordinary a congress of 50 pf japans famous strong men and woman gladiators swordsman wrestlers jiu jitsu and atletic champions the in the bottom right it says copyright 1913 i think the strobridge litho co cinncianti and new york

  43. Al Septien says:

    I’m looking at a RBBB litho called RBBB Monkey Parade. It measures 21 x 14 and is priced at $650. Do you know anything about this poster? I can send you an image via Twitter. Please let me know if you have any info on this poster. Thanks.

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Al, Based on the size this is probably a reproduction of a Lawson Wood poster. Even if it were an original, the price is a bit high.

      Larry

  44. Pamela McCall says:

    Dear Sir. (Larry Kellogg)
    I worked at Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus World Was located in Haines City , FL. in the 70′s. I acquired a wall poster. It is in four large 40 x 60″ pcs. It is of their classic jumping tiger. It is numbered no. 902. Has never been used. What may be the value of one this size? Obvious repo of the 70′s. Maybe it was just a print for grand opening. I can’t remember. I can’t find anything similar online. I am going to sell off much of my Circus World memorabilia I acquired (not really much. This though I don’t know its value.
    Would love someone to advise me. thanks.. Pam

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Thank you for your question. The purpose of this response section is to ask questions or make comments about the article above. I am not allowed to evaluate items here. If you will click on the “Research Your Items” tab you will find two ways to find advice about value—the “Worthopedia – Price Guide” and “Ask a Worthologist – Expert Advice.”

      I can tell you that large posters are not as valuable as smaller (one sheet) posters because they are so difficult for the average person to display. They are more suited for museums.

  45. Amy says:

    I have a Ringling Bros. Proprietors poster, that has the number P-116 on it. Not sure if this is a reproduction? Could you tell me? It is in fairly decent shape.

  46. Kathleen Freeland says:

    Hi,
    I googled my grandfather, Forrest Freeland and found out he was one of only a few famous circus poster artists. I knew he was a cartoonist with the Detroit Free Press and that he once owned a circus. I have no circus posters of his but I have all his family photographs, many of his cartoons from the Detroit Free Press and announcements of his son’s birth (my father) which he illustrated himself. Do you think they would be worth anything? Any advice for me to look for an original Freeland to hand down to my son?
    Kathy Freeland

  47. Kathleen Freeland says:

    Vintage Poster has “The Great Alzanas” by Freeland for $750. They want payment by check. They say it comes with a certificate of authenticity. Can these be phonied? What should ask or look for?
    Kathy Freeland

  48. Anthony says:

    hello
    i have a poster kinda like the “1900 5 brothers where there in a line” mine differs slightly stating” the circus kings of all time” and”The world famous founders of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus” and has 7 Ringling Brothers? it is on LITHO paper and bottom right says “litho USA” ……… REAL or REPRO?
    Thanks for your help

  49. Dan says:

    Hi, I found several Ringling Bros. Circus posters while cleaning out an old estate. I will describe them to see if you can help to see if the are original, how old they are, and their worth. there are 2 Lou Jacobs by maxwell frederick coplan, the bottom left says Ringling Bros. and Barnum & bailey combined shows and in the right bottom is litho in usa, nothing more. they are 42″ by 28″. the other one is admision 2 nuts by Lawson Wood. the bottom wordage is the same as the other posters just the sides they are on are reversed. It is the same size as the other 2.

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Dan,

      Thank you for your question. The purpose of this response section is to ask questions or make comments about the article above. I am not allowed to evaluate items here. If you will click on the “Research Your Items” tab you will find two ways to find advice about value—the “Worthopedia – Price Guide” and “Ask a Worthologist – Expert Advice.”

  50. Joseph says:

    Someone wants to sell a poster they claim to be guaranteed authentic from prior to 1889. It is 28″ by 56″ it says ringling bros on top left of poster, and barnum and bailey on top right of poster. inbetween that it says combined circus.
    It has yons of animals on it — a tiger sitting on grass in center, with polar bear, seals, elephant to left, abd lion just below the tiger on grass, and camels, ran, and giragges to the right — a hippo with mouth open below the lion etc, but alot of animals.

    • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

      Joseph, The poster you describe can’t be as old as the owner claims. Ringling Bros. didn’t combine with Barnum & Bailey until 1919.

      • Joseph says:

        Thank you for the quick reply. Your response brings up one other interesting point of this poster — They also state that it was made by “erie lithographics” which, when I look it up online to the best of my ability it says erie lithographics went out of business in 1917.

        So if barnum did not combine with ringling until 1919, and erie went out of business around 1917, how would this poster even be created by erie lithographics?
        My question is do you feel this poster is authentic with regard to whatever date it was created?
        Thank you again in advance for your time.

        • Larry Kellogg Larry Kellogg says:

          Erie Litho Company was still in business into the 1940s.

          • Joseph says:

            do you think its possible the poster is authentic? I see sizes of 28 x 42 inches mentioned, however this one they quote as 28 x 56″
            It has a bunch of animals all over the poster. They also say there are no pin holes.

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