Sells Floto Circus

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Sells Floto Circus
Sells Floto Circus Princess Victoria.jpg
CountryUnited States
Operator(s)Frederick Gilmer Bonfils
FateIncorporated into the American Circus Corporation by 1929
Type of actsBuffalo Bill Cody

The Sells Floto Circus was a combination of the Floto Dog & Pony Show and the Sells Brothers Circus that toured with sideshow acts in the United States during the early 1900s.


Frederick Gilmer Bonfils and Harry Heye Tammen owned the first outfit as well as the Denver Post, and the "Floto" name came from the Post's one-time sportswriter, Otto Floto. During the 1914-1915 seasons the circus featured Buffalo Bill Cody.

The sells floto circus absorbed Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows, and the Sells Brothers Circus, it was also a "combined" show. It later became the concessions department of Ringling Brothers Circus, along with Haggenback Wallace, who made the floats and other equipment.

The circus had four elephant births, three born to "Alice" and one to "Mama Mary". The sire of all four was "Snyder". None survived longer than five months.

By 1929 the Sells Floto Circus was part of the American Circus Corporation which consisted of Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, the John Robinson Circus, the Sparks Circus, and the Al G. Barnes Circus. John Nicholas Ringling then bought American Circus Corporation for $1.7-million creating a monopoly of traveling circus in America.[1]

Alternate names[edit]

  • Sells-Floto Circus, Harry Tammen and Fred Bonfils, proprietors
  • Sells-Floto Circus & Buffalo Bill's Wild West
  • Sells-Floto Circus, John Ringling, proprietor
  • Sells-Floto Circus & Buffalo Bill's Wild West
  • Sells-Floto Circus, American Circus Corp., proprietor


  • Novelist and cookbook author Isabel Moore's "first career" was as a trapeze artist with Sells Floto ca. 1928. She took the job because she had "courage, but no brains."[2]
  • Pasqual Piñón, (1889–1929), known as "The Two-Headed Mexican", was a performer with the Sells-Floto Circus in the early 1900s.
  • In 1919, professional boxer Georges Carpentier exhibited his boxing skills with the Sells Floto Circus for ten weeks at the rate of $2,000 a week. [3]



  1. ^ "Bailey and the Ringlings". Feld Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-07-21. In 1929, reacting to the fact that his competitor, the American Circus Corporation, had signed a contract to perform in New York's Madison Square Garden, Ringling purchased American Circus for $1.7-million. In one fell swoop, Ringling had absorbed five major shows: Sells-Floto, Al G. Barnes, Sparks, Hagenbeck-Wallace, and John Robinson.
  2. ^ " 'Other Woman' Inspires Book," Brookfield Courier (New York), July 21, 1949.
  3. ^ White Hopes and Other Tigers, John Lardner, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1951

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