Ringling Brothers Circus

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Ringling Brothers Circus
Flickr - …trialsanderrors - Madam Ada Castello and Jupiter, poster for Ringling Brothers, ca. 1899.jpg
Poster for Ringling Brothers, ca. 1899
The Ringling brothers depicted in the upper left corner
Circus name Ringling Brothers Circus
Country United States
Founder(s) The Ringling Brothers
Year founded 1884
Operator(s) Ringling Brothers
Fate Merged
This article is about historic circus. For its current incarnation, see Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus.

The Ringling Brothers Circus was a circus founded in the United States in 1884 by five of the seven Ringling Brothers: Albert, August, Otto, Alfred T., Charles, John), and Henry. In 1907 it acquired the Barnum & Bailey Circus, merging them in 1919 to become Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, promoted as The Greatest Show on Earth.


Poster promoting the "Raschetta Brothers" acrobats
The circus's Bridgeport, Connecticut, headquarters, about 1911
Ringling Brothers trains and elephants

In 1882, before the Ringling Brothers created their first circus, the 5 brothers performed skits and juggling routines in town halls around the state of Wisconsin. They called this the "Ringling Brothers' Variety Performance" when they took the show to the next town. With two wandering performers the next year, the Brothers toured the Northwest. After the Northwest tour, they used the money earned for suits.[1]

1898 Ringling Brothers poster

They expanded their acts into a one ring show in 1884. The show added a trick horse and a bear at the end of the season. The circus started traveling by trains in 1888 allowing the show to consistently expand.[1]

The Ringling Circus purchased the John Robinson Circus. This brought them to the attention of James Anthony Bailey of Barnum and Bailey's Circus as a threatening rival. The brothers met with Bailey thus agreeing to a division of areas. This was followed by them purchasing a 1/2 share of the Forepaugh-Sell circus from Bailey. Bailey, under the area division, nixed the Ringlings from playing at the Madison Garden, a location that was the brother's ambition to perform at.[1]

In 1906, Bailey died which led to the Ringlings taking over Forepaugh-Sells, which continued to operate separately. In October 1907, the English stockholders of Barnum and Bailey's Circus approved the sale of the circus to the Ringlings.[1]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Augustus Ringling Dead. Head of Tented Shows In America Dies in New Orleans." (PDF). New York Times. August 19, 1907. Retrieved 2008-07-20. When the Ringling Brothers bought the Barnum Biley show they ... got a monopoly on the circus business in America. They now own outright three ...