The United States Postal Service celebrated the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus with the unveiling of its limited edition Vintage Circus Posters Forever stamps Monday, at the Ringling Museum.
The ceremony was held in front of the Cà d’Zan and included clowns, circus cars and a first day of issue sale. The pane of 16 self-adhesive stamps features reproductions of eight original 19th- and 20th-century circus posters used to promote the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
During the 19th century, lithography became the medium preferred by poster artists. The original posters that the stamps depict were not modest; they were eye-popping with colorful, bold drawings of elephants and clowns. These larger-than-life posters, which were 42 inches by 28 inches, would be put up in multiple sheets. From two sheets to 100, the posters would often cover entire sides of buildings.
At the ceremony, U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors member Ellen Williams and executive director of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Steven High helped unveil the stamps by putting together a jumbo puzzle of the stamps.
“We hope people will proudly display these new stamps on their cards, letters and packages,” said High.
“And, just like the circus does, we hope they [the stamps] will bring joy, wonder and amazement into the lives of everyone who received them.”