The Illustrated Circus World, 1934

Front page of Illustrated World Circus showing parade of elephants. A variety of acts from the circus.While doing some thesis-related research on the Circus Historical Society online archive this evening, I came across a digitized copy of this marvelous 1934 Illustrated Circus World. It’s really an advertisement for the 1934 season of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, the second largest traveling circus in the USA in the early twentieth-century. The images of the performers and animals are delightful to look through, but I was even more captivated by the vintage commercial advertisements included throughout, like the $715 Pontiac, the Frigidaire, indigestion gum and Dr. West’s double-quick toothpaste. I’m also enamored with the particular way some of the headlines are worded: “A dazzling paragon of rainbow gorgeousness” “Sure the circus is fun…but so is making things with batteries!” “Nothing seems impossible when your digestion is good.” I think it’s a real treasure of advertising ephemera.

I’ve kept the pages in order from top to bottom, so you can get a feel for what it might have been like to browse through it in 1934! (You can also access the original digital file here). What are your favorite details?

Advertisement for Pontiac car. Photographs of acrobats. Frigidaire refrigerator ad, 1934. Trained horses and ad for digestive aids. Photo of zebra, polar bear and clowns. Photo of clown and crowds, plus ad for tractors. Photographs of lion and lion tamer, along with Chevrolet ad. Photograph of lions and lion tamer. Cowboy riding a horse, elephant, clowns and toothpaste advertisement. Photograph of hippopotamus and cigarette ad. Picture of clowns, Princess Mu Kaun and her 'giraffe neck', and ad for batteries. Photographs of wild animals and ad for Dentyne gum. Vintage ads for stetson hats, corn shrivels, Lysol, Lucky Strike cigarettes, and a picture of elephants. Giraffes behind fence.

// Images from The Illustrated Circus World, Volume XXVI, Number 88, Season of 1934. Via the Circus Historical Society (document can be found here).

Elsewhere on the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things:

Mr and Mrs Bese Cuppers and Leechers vintage ad for medical leeches

16 thoughts on “The Illustrated Circus World, 1934

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  2. Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that
    this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!

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  11. Wonderful images. Such fun. Makes me wonder if, decades from now, people will look back on our popular papers and magazines and say, “How quaint!” I don’t think so…I think they’ll say, “How superficial!”, but who knows?

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  13. Fantastic documentation here, Chelsea, and consistently great posts. I discovered Hagenbeck while I was doing a research project on exoticism in W.G. Sebald’s work and a German professor to whom I was speaking referred me to the work of Eric Ames. An incredible volume is his book on Hagenbeck, with an amazing amount of pictorial documentation and good analysis of his theme parks. Here it is at: . Depending on your interests, it’s worth a perusal. Best regards, Jacob

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