2014 49¢ Tiger
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”).
Throughout the 18th century, touring collections of exotic animals were exhibited across the United States. The creatures were displayed in simple rectangular boxes with cage bars across one side. The spectacle presented by the foreign animals alone was enough to draw crowds. The animals’ keepers did not enter the small cages.
By the 1800s, however, keepers began to interact with the animals, big cats especially, in front of their audiences. These acts were wildly popular and keepers, later known as “trainers” or “tamers,” earned fame for their trade. Ad posters announced “the keeper will enter the cage!” Reviewers marveled at the “patience and good humor” with which the cats endured each act and at the apparent “fondness” of the animals for their keepers.
One of the most notable keepers was Mabel Stark, the famous tiger tamer. She wrestled tigers, put her head in their mouths, and even did stunts with them for films. In less than a decade, she rose to stardom.
Stark worked with the big cats for almost 60 years, enduring several attacks. Despite the risks, she always returned to her beloved tigers until her forced retirement at age 79 in 1968. She never once blamed a tiger for her injuries, she admitted “there is no such thing as a tame tiger.”
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