Massive circus side show collection sells for $37,500 in Holabird's Big Tent Auction, April 16-19
A massive collection of circus side show photographs and ephemera – around 50,000 pieces in all and spanning over a century, from 1850-1960 – sold for $37,500 in a 4-day online-only Big Tent Auction held by Holabird Western Americana Collections.
By: Holabird Western Americana Collections
The John Reynolds circus side show collection was the sale's top lot and had three main parts:
· The midget collection, nearly 3,000 pieces, a photographic history of how PT Barnum got the world to love midgets like the world-famous Nicu de Barcsy and Tom Thumb, and how circus and entertainment entities promoted the odd and curious to the world.
· The circus freaks side show collection, about 2,000 pieces, including cartes de visite of every sort of human disfigurement (circa 1860s-1870s)
· The circus collection, including Ringling calendars, broadsides, tickets, promo material, circus programs from the 1940s, and a notebook of historical circus collectibles including many of the colorful letterheads of various circuses from the first half of the 20th century.
The auction was led by Part 2 of the John Reynolds collections. His circus side show collection was just for starters. They also featured California tokens, medals and shell cards, as well as his fabulous aviation mail (and California) postal history collection of more than 10,000 covers, plus his Pioneer postcard collection. The collections contributed to a highly successful online auction.
"This may have been a record-setting auction," remarked Fred Holabird, president and owner of Holabird Western Americana Collections. "Over time, we have mined many statistical patterns associated with collector interests, bidding practices and Internet visibility. We used this data to guide our marketing for this sale, and it was a near absolute success. The numbers bore this out."
Holabird likened the auction room to "a war room," commenting, "With no live bidding in our gallery because of COVID-19, the room contained a complex array of computers and operators, with all phone participation handled by Zoom and our employees working remotely from home around the country. This high-tech approach to the business may well be the wave of the future."
For more information, visit fhwac.com.