Lot 318
Bill Bailey (American, 20th C), Mr. and Mrs. Gargantua, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Vintage Circus Poster
Lot Details & Additional Photographs
Lithographic poster in colors, 1940s, with copyright information lower left, linen backed, unframed.

Sheet Size 21 1/4 x 27 3/4 in.

Vintage Circus Posters, Estate of B. Thomas M. Smith, Sr., Petersburg, Virginia . Smith established this extensive collection of circus and theater posters over the course of 40 years, between 1936 and the early 1970s. Portions of his collection are now held by the Ringling Circus Museum, Sarasota, Florida and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington, DC.

Gargantua the Great ("Buddy"), perhaps the most famous 20th-century circus animal, was a lowland gorilla originally from Africa who travelled with the Ringling Brothers Circus. Ringling often paired Gargantua with a female gorilla named Toto, as seen here, and the two were called "Mr. and Mrs. Gargantua." This poster was part of a major advertising campaign that featured Gargantua as an exciting new spectacle. It aimed to generate interest during financial difficulties surrounding the Great Depression and the two world wars, and encouraged the public to buy war bonds. Gargantua was thus credited with helping the Ringling Brothers Circus pull through these tumultuous years.

Condition B+/A-: some previous creases, stains, and several repaired tears. Professionally restored and linen backed.