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Turn-of-the-Century Frederick Glasier Circus Photos on Exhibit in Tampa

by Larry Kellogg (05/31/13).

Clown Pete Mardo, photographed by Frederick Glasier, appeared with Barnum & Bailey and later with Ringling Bros. This was before the two shows were combined. An exhibit of Glasier’s photos at the Tampa Bay History Center will run through Aug. 4.

Several years ago (2009) I wrote a couple of WorthPoint articles about circus photographs:

Some Circus Photos are Worth a Thousand Bucks and Older Circus Photos Bring Higher Prices. A section in the first article focused on the photos of Frederick W. Glasier (1866-1950), who captured circus images during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Approximately 1,700 of the original glass plate negatives taken by Glasier are in the collection of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Fla. The Ringling’s website has a section devoted to the Glasier Collection.

Now through Aug. 4, 2013, a special exhibition of some of the Glasier’s work, organized by The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, is on exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water Street, in Tampa, Fla. The exhibit features 65 images, as well as lithographic posters from The Ringling Museum collection.

Several years ago, this exhibit was held at the UBS Art Gallery in New York City and later at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. At that time, Eakins Press Foundation published a fabulous book, “Circus, The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier,” by Peter Kayafas, Deborah W. Walk and Luc Sante. The book was copyrighted in 2009. I have checked with the Tampa Bay History Center and it is trying to get copies of the book to sell in its gift shop. It is available on line at prices ranging from $50 to over $200. The book, which contains 73 images, is well worth the price and would be a great addition to any circus collection.

Mademoiselle Scheel, a brave young lady, seems perfectly at ease with these kings of the jungle. This Glasier photo was taken about 1905.

Many of the Glasier photos were taken at Buffalo Bill’s Real Wild West show, including portraits of some of the American Indian performers in the show. This is Chief Iron Tail, who was a survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He was one of the models chosen for the image on the Buffalo Nickel.

Images used in this article are courtesy of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.


Larry Kellogg is a Worthologist specializing in circus memorabilia.

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