In recent years circuses have become tame events for children with notable exceptions such as the Cirque du Soleil. However, the golden time and place of the Circus was undoubtedly the early 19th century to the early 20th century in America. These were the days of Pepin and Breschard, Dan Rice, P.T. Barnum, Cooper and Bailey and The Ringling brothers.
These were the lewd, rowdy years of the circus and it was common for carnies to get into brawls with the locals. Below are some vintage circus posters from the era that offer a wonderful glimpse into this bizarre world.
... with sunny gleams of fairyland, with scenes of merriest glee, with cute and cunning animals from either side the sea ...
This 1934 photo of the performers and carnies of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus illustrates how big a show the circus could be.
seals that exhibit intelligence scarcely less than human
The world's most terrifying living creature!
unfortunately animal cruelty is a sad legacy of the circus
The 7 wild wheel whirl wonders
Circuses of the nineteenth century could be enormous and were transported around the United States on special trains.
Freak shows drew the crowds and performers were recruited from far and wide.
this is another sad legacy of the circus as such performers were often mistreated