2014 49¢ Al G. Barnes Wild Animal 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”).
The first elephant on record to have captivated American spectators arrived in the United States in 1796. The animal was billed as an independent fascination for several years before joining a full-scale circus in New York in 1812. Known only as “the elephant,” this unnamed creature was the first known circus elephant.
Throughout the early part of the 19th century, several elephants toured the Northeast on display. None of them, however, did tricks or anything to entertain the crowds. This changed in 1821 when Asian elephant Little Bet, the “Learned Elephant,” went on tour.
Imported in 1817 by Hachaliah Bailey, Little Bet could kneel, carry a person on her trunk, pull a cork from a bottle, and do numerous tasks on command. By 1824, similarly trained elephants were regular performers in multi-animal menageries and circuses.
Later leased to Nathan Howe, Little Bet made her proprietors so much money that they both became circus showmen in the notable Great Howe Circus and the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Still a popular circus attraction, the Asian elephant has been endangered for almost 40 years. Today, circuses like Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey are active in conservation efforts to save the species.
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