Clown’s Giant Circus Songster. Extra Edition. [opening lines of broadside/propsectus]
“The Words and Music of this Song will be sent to any address, post-paid, on receipt of 40 cents, by H.J. Wehman… Send for Catalogue”
Unrecorded c.1887 large-format, illustrated circus songster published in New York City by Henry J. Wehman, “Publisher of Penny Ballads, Song Sheets, Song Books, German Songs, Sheet Music, Motto Verses, Fortune Tellers and Dream Books; Letter Writers, &c.”
With an illustrated “masthead” plus imprint beneath and its title verbiage “Extra Edition,” the songster evokes a newspaper extra, likely to evoke a sense of urgency among its potential readers; a clever advertising ploy.
Published as a broadside, the songster functions as an advertisement or prospectus for Wehman’s sheet music business. Seen here are the lyrics to 14 popular songs—all copyrighted between 1884 and 1887—the sheet music for which could be ordered for 40 cents each. Illustration cuts show a big-top circus tent, clowns and other performers.
Songs include the Irish-themed “Lay Me on the Hillside” and “I had $15 in My Inside Pocket,” plus “Rock-A-Bye Baby,” “You’ll Never Miss Your Mother ‘Till She’s Gone,” “Cricket on the Hearth,” and “Belleville Convent Fire,” the latter commemorating a real-life 1884 disaster in Illinois.
Ads along the bottom promote the publisher’s Witches’ Dream Book and Fortune Teller (an illustration shows the front cover) and other publications, piano sheet music, and a coupon for 100 songs for 10 cents plus a free catalogue. The other publications listed include game, puzzle, trick, song, and riddle books such as “Heller’s Conjuring Pack,” “50 Conundrums,” “Guide to Flirtation,” and “Illustrated Book of Curiosities (48 pages).”
Publisher Henry J. Wehman issued a number of “giant” or “mammoth” songsters in the 1880s and early 1890s. The present Clown’s Giant Circus Songster is unrecorded, though another of the same title is located at Brown bearing a different imprint and containing 15 song lyrics.
Description: Clown’s Giant Circus Songster. Extra Edition. [opening lines of broadside/propsectus]
New York: Henry J. Wehman, 130 Park Row, c.1887. p. Broadside. 23¾ x 18½ inches. Printed on yellow paper in five columns; wood engraved illustration cuts. Folds and creases; some losses in margins not affecting text or illustrations; short separations at some folds and a few short closed tears; very good.
No copies in OCLC, but see OCLC 32294105 (1 copy; Brown) for a variant imprint: “82 Park Row.”