2014 49¢ Hillary Long
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”).
Tightrope walking is precisely as it sounds. It is the feat of walking along a thin rope or wire, usually before an audience, and often at great heights. Sometimes known as high-wire walking, this act has been a circus staple for well over a century and has existed as a form of entertainment for even longer.
From the Middle Ages through the 18th century, “rope-dancers,” as they were often called, dazzled spectators at fairs throughout Europe. Using ropes with different tensions, known commonly as “tight-wire” or “slack-wire,” these early acrobats performed multiple feats, amazing their fans. Eventually incorporated into circuses, the acts developed in complexity and skill level over time.
Some of the most famous high-wire daredevils throughout history have been women. In the late 17th century, the “Dutch Woman” performed wearing men’s clothing and was described as performing “as if assisted with the wings of Mercury.” In the late 19th century, Italian-born Maria Spelterini was, and is to this day, the first and only female to cross Niagara Falls on a wire.
Perhaps the most famous female wire-walker was Bird Millman, a center-ring performer in the early 20th century. Millman captivated audiences so much that side ring acts were stopped altogether when she performed, an honor reserved for only the greatest circus stars.
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