[Circus Photographs, 1946–1959, collected by a Baltimore Member of the Circus Fans Association of America].
An impressive behind-the-scenes collection of circus photographs
Large archive of 188 behind-the-scenes, parade, and performance circus photographs kept by Edward Ruppert of Baltimore. A member of the Circus Fans Association of America, Ruppert took about a half dozen of these photographs himself and collected the others mainly from 1946 to 1959.
Circus images in the Ruppert collection include those from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, Dailey Bros Circus, [James E.] Strates Shows, Al G. Kelly & Miller Bros. (“2nd Largest Wild Animal Circus”), and Terrell Jacobs, World’s Largest Wild Animal Arena.
Highlights include candid portraits of clowns and other performers or crew (some autographed), views of circus parade wagons and railroad cars, two photos of cowboy performer “Hopalong Cassidy” (William Boyd) and a photo of his private railroad car, some photos of heavily carved and gilt circus cars/wagons including one with large brass bells, 11 photographs of decorated floats from several states and circus wagons in President Harry Truman’s Inauguration Parade (1949), an autographed photo of circus clown Otto Griebling, and a candid color photograph of legendary clown Emmett Kelly in character as “Weary Willie.”
One sepia-tone photograph appears to be an outlier from 1911. It is captioned “4 P S - Baraboo Wis. 9-1-11.” It shows a horse-drawn parade carriage in the form of an enormous shoe. Little carved and gilt cherubs spill out of the shoe and clamber about. Charming!
The categories of photographs include caged and parade animals, portraits, outdoor photos including circus set-up, performance images including “dancing” elephants, views of train cars and the loading thereof, and Christmas cards.
Autographed clown portraits also include Lou Jacoby; Dr. L. C. Holland (a dentist and amateur clown—“[the]only man to clown on all worth while circuses”); Jack LeClair, Sr.; Edwin F. Green; and Irwin H. Romig. Romig also makes an appearance as Santa Claus riding an “antlered” donkey bearing the sign “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”! Other portrait photographs include Merle Evans and his musical band with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Milwaukee (1946); performer Felix Adler; a woman clown; and a Pierrot-type clown dressed as a hunter with his dog dressed as a rabbit.
Accompanying the photographs is a four-page autograph letter signed from 1967 addressed to Edward “Ed” Ruppert from his friend Bill. Bill also appears to be a collector of circus memorabilia and a member of the Circus Fans Association of America, an organization founded in 1926.
Bill writes from Baraboo, Wisconsin, the long-time winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus and the location of the Circus World Museum. He writes about news of the circus world and “Baraboo folks”:
Well, the Water Street Emporium opened its 9th season last Saturday. Richard Bennett was up and called on me—said that the Curcus Fans were more numerous than others. He heard that John Boyle was over, and the Jorgen Christiansons of Rocherster, Ind. were announced. ... The Drogquetts[?] did not return. So the trampoline act that was with Mills Bros. last season is over here. The clown was the one called Happy, who worked the season of 1963–or–was it 1962? I think his name is Joe Greenwood of Baraboo. He had done a “tour” of army duty. So they had Bennett in 1964 and “Rocco” in 1965 and ’66. [...] Rudy Rudinoff has gone…[his] name should be among the “immortals” in the Circus Hall of Fame. Why don’t you nominate him? ...Thanks ever so much for the Clyde Beatty Cole Bros. program—and the Stamp announcements. ...I’ve had no circus material come my way—used to have contact with a dealer who seems to have sold most of his stock. The rich people like Pfening, Harold Dunn, and an ex-newspaperman from Philadelphia—put us poor fellows in the shade.
An impressive behind-the-scenes collection of circus photographs, ephemera, and a letter, documenting the post-WWII American circus world.
Description: [Circus Photographs, 1946–1959, collected by a Baltimore Member of the Circus Fans Association of America].
[Baltimore, Maryland; Hagerstown, Maryland; Baraboo, Wisconsin; etc.; 1911?, 1946–1959, and 1967]. 187 black and white photographs and 1 color photograph ranging in size from 2¾ x 4½ inches to 5 x 6¾ inches. Includes a few duplicates. Annotations or autographs to some photos. Accompanied by a four-page ALS, two mounted postcards, a decal in glassine envelope, and two magazine clippings. Very good.
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