FREDERICK, MD – The circus – remember the days with the old travelling big tops? Days or sometimes even weeks in advance, the posters would start to appear around town, posted on store windows and walls, on light and telephone poles, sometimes even on the sides of buildings. Brimming with colorful artwork, they depicted what were fantastic, and to most of us, impossible feats, featuring acts from faraway lands. Some posters even promised a real live parade of clowns, performers and wild animals right down the main street of our small towns. For over 200 years American children anticipated the summer arrival of this exotic entertainment.
Next to some of the movie posters created by Hollywood, nothing else could get a child’s pulse racing or ignite their excitement level quite the way circus posters did. As part of their fall sale, Mosby & Co. presents over 200 circus, minstrel, vaudeville, Wild West and early play posters, with a dateline ranging from the 19th century to 1998. The unquestioned king of this grouping is a circa-1900 original Buffalo Bill “Rough Riders of the World” poster featuring the U.S. Cavalry. This linen-mounted 28-sheet billboard shows an incredibly detailed and colorful glimpse into this iconic and completely American spectacle. There are posters from the famous and also the obscure, like Col. Tim McCoy’s Wild West show, which lasted for less than one month during the Great Depression.
A great many of these posters came from two long-defunct Coney Island venues: ride inventor and manufacturer William F. Mangels’ Museum of American Entertainment and the old Henderson Music Hall and Tavern on Surf Avenue. These particular posters are display-
mounted on Masonite, as was typical from the 1920s through the 1950s. Most of the remainder were in the archives of other museum inventories.
Once again, Mosby & Co. will offer original sideshow banners from artists such as Snap Wyatt, Fred G. Johnson, Johnny Meah, Mark Frierson, J. Sigler and others. A great Snap Wyatt Popeye banner along with a Fred Johnson “Missing Link” top this part of the sale.
Reflecting one of its specialties, Mosby & Co. will auction a fine selection of pre-WWII Japanese celluloid toys, along with a variety of American and European toys. There will be a wide array of boxed toys by Buddy ‘L,’ Marx and Nylint, including a sealed-box Nylint
Missile Launcher and Street Sweeper.
A Toschi Ferrari with the motor still in its original box is part of the vehicle section of the sale. A recently discovered and fresh to the market find is a factory-sealed Marx Ben-Hur series 2000 playset.
Comic character toys are well represented with several Disney pieces and a nice Popeye grouping. The Disney toys include an extremely rare and possibly unique Drumming Elmer the Timid Elephant toy. “To our knowledge, it is the only known example,” said Mosby & Co.’s owner, Keith Spurgeon.
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