2014 49¢ Sells-Floto Circus
Vintage Circus Posters
This stamp is one of eight designs included in the Vintage Circus Posters stamps. Each pane includes stamps in two sizes: large horizontal stamps (2” X 1.46”) and smaller vertical stamps (1.12” X 1.46”).
Politician, gambler, and philanthropist, Dan Rice was once the most renowned circus performer in American history. Dubbed “the most famous man you’ve never heard of,” Rice rose to stardom quickly but fell into obscurity soon after the Civil War.
A patriotic and intelligent man, Rice was also a multitalented actor. Dressed in his signature red and white striped tights, blue leotard, and top hat, the accomplished rider, acrobat, strongman, minstrel, and comedian won over audiences on a massive scale.
Funny and provocative, Rice often laced his acts with political commentary and satire. Popular and influential, candidates sought his endorsement and accompanied him on tour. Local politicians would join in to absorb the good publicity, yielding the phrase, “jumping on the bandwagon.”
In the mid-1860s, Rice owned his own successful traveling circus, earned over $1,000 per week, was supposedly personal friends with the U.S. President, and had become a true celebrity. But by the end of the Civil War, American tastes had changed. Rice’s style was no longer accepted and he soon fell out of favor.
Today, Dan Rice, patriot and original circus clown, can still be remembered in the image of the United States’ mascot, Uncle Sam, who some argue was modeled after Rice’s original costume.
The Vintage Circus Poster stamps were designed to look like circus posters of the 19th century. Some of these original posters were big enough to cover the side of a building and they advertised that the circus was coming to town.
49¢ Vintage Circus Posters, issued to satisfy the first-class mail rate
Issue Date: May 5, 2014
City: Sarasota, FL, at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Lithographed, sheets of 96 with six panes of 16 per sheet
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 11