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The Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth



The legendary circus impresario P.T. Barnum built his reputation by trumpeting unusual acts. Famed circus performer Leon LaRoche, prominently featured in this poster, promised just such a spectacle. Leon LaRoche performed with Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1895 through 1902. Hidden inside a human-sized sphere, LaRoche scaled a 30-foot-high spiral track. Billing him as the "Sphère Mysterieuse" ("Mysterious Sphere"), the Barnum and Bailey Circus capitalized on LaRoche's French connection to highlight the exotic quality of the "audacious triumph." Barnum's circus career came later in his life, and by 1872 he had developed his flair for exotic acts into "The Greatest Show on Earth." In 1880 he entered a partnership with successful competitor James Bailey to form the Barnum and Bailey Circus. Bailey's business savvy complemented Barnum's abilities as a promoter and made their circus the most successful enterprise of its kind in the United States. Written in French, this poster might have been used to promote one of Bailey's successful European tours.

ManufacturerStrobridge Litho. Co.
Materialchromolithographed paper
OriginCincinnati, OH | New York, NY
Object ID76.412

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