America’s Golden Age of Circus

What was known as ‘The Golden Age of American Circus’ lasted, roughly, from the last quarter of the 1800’s through 1950. During that time, circus as an industry got a huge boost from the expansion of the transcontinental rail system and managed to survive the Great Depression.

The poster advertisements from this era remain so wonderfully iconic – and the Ringling Museum website hosts an impressive 4,977 of them in one of their digital archives. I am now the proud owner of the metadata for the entire archive – thanks to Python scraping.

This resulting project site is called Tack Spitter Circus after the original Tack Spitters – who traveled ahead of the circus to post these kinds of advertisements by spitting tacks held in their mouth onto a magnetic hammer.



This is my (so far) favorite poster from the Ringling archive.

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