New York: James Reilley, Printer and Engraver, 12, 14, & 16 Spruce Street, New York, nd [ca.1878-79]. Poster for the circus, printed on both sides, 65 x 22 cm. on a 74 x 26 cm. sheet. "Programme No. 1." Text in various sizes and styles of type, bordered by small vignettes of animals and circus acts. Title on verso: "UNCEASING ENTHUSIASM! / VanAmburgh & Co's / NEW GREAT GOLDEN / Menagerie, Circus & Colosseum / Manager for 32 consecutive years... Mr. Hyatt Frost / WORLD-WIDE IN REPUTATION!... / THOUSANDS FLOCK TO SEE IT.... [followed by eleven illustrations of featured animals, including the Two Horned Rhinoceros, the White Yak of Tartary, the African Ostrich, etc. plus acrobats, trapeze artists, and other performers. In the margin, left blank to allow for adding the location of the show, this copy is stamped in bold letters "Fryeburg: Sept. 6." A few shallow chips to margins, one short closed tear extending slightly into the illustration of the kangaroo, else a boldly printed, wonderfully illustrated copy. Item #63754
Isaac VanAmburgh (1811-1865), born in Fishkill, New York, is considered one of the originators of dramatic and daring trained wild animal acts, incorporating them into his traveling menageries. Known as "The Lion King" for his bold performances, he was touring England and the Continent by 1834, entering cages with lions, tigers, and other big cats and occasionally putting his arm or his head into their mouths, much to the delight of Queen Victoria and other royalty. His long-time manager Hyatt Frost penned a biographical sketch of VanAmburgh in 1872 calling him "the original beast conqueror- a pioneer in entering their dens... no man has been able to effect as marvellous feats, or exercise such power of control over the brute creation...."
Frost continued to use the VanAmburgh name and to manage the show after VanAmburgh's death. Frost was also a partner with P.T. Barnum in the Barnum Museum on Broadway in New York City until two fires, one in 1865 and another in 1868 closed it down, at a great loss to both men. Frost thereafter traveled the country and Canada with a wagon show and later a railroad show, though competing with larger circuses became increasingly difficult. By 1884, he gave up the work and auctioned off the remaining parts of the VanAmburgh menagerie. [see his obituary in the Amenia Times, Sept. 7, 1895].
This copy, with the Fryeburg [Maine?] stamp was likely printed in 1878, when Frost was in his 32nd year as manager. We found a different poster for the VanAmburgh menagerie, dated 1885, which notes that Frost was then in his 39th year as manager, helping to date this copy.
OCLC lists one copy at the Connecticut State Library, which gives the date as 1880.