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1913 Barnum & Bailey "Famous Elephant Base-Ball Team" Circus Poster - Rare Large-Format Version!
Starting Bid - $10,000, Sold For - $12,000
Extremely rare Barnum & Bailey circus poster heralding the appearance of "Mooney's Giants-The Famous Elephant Base-Ball Team." This poster was issued in two sizes. While the poster is rare enough in the smaller size that collectors have seen it offered at auction just four times over the past several decades, few are even aware it was also issued in this majestic larger size. To the best of our knowledge, one has never been offered at auction, and we are unaware of even the existence of another example. This large-format poster measures an extraordinary 40 x 30 inches. Over twenty years ago it was purchased from the personal collection of the dean of magic and circus poster collecting, Mario Carrandi. (And, as Mario Carrandi will attest, we have bothered him on a regular basis for the past twenty years to find us another example, to no avail!) All of the other "Famous Elephant Base-Ball Team" circus posters we have seen or handled are considerably smaller, measuring 30 x 20 inches. In addition to the size difference, the larger poster also incorporates portraits of Barnum & Bailey in the upper left, a design element not present in the smaller posters. The colorful poster features an extraordinary illustration of the talented pachyderms playing baseball, complete with a fully equipped catcher and umpire. Copyright 1913 by the Strobridge Litho Company of Cincinnati and New York. This is one of the rarest of all circus posters in any size. (While this is the only large-format 40 x 30 version we have seen, fewer than ten of the smaller versions are known.) It is also one of the most delightful, fun, and interesting baseball-related display pieces ever produced. Featuring exceptional graphics, this poster generates positive attention and a positive emotional reaction across the board, a response that few display pieces of any kind (baseball-related or otherwise) can match. Robert Edward Auctions has only handled three of the smaller versions of this poster in the past twenty years. (Their rarity is such we have not seen another smaller version at auction anywhere else ever; REA has always gone out of its way to get this poster for auction whenever possible because it is a personal favorite.) The first smaller-version poster appeared as the cover lot in Robert Edward Auctions' June 1996 auction. That example was purchased by special request specifically for donation to the Hall of Fame, and is now on display in Cooperstown as part of the Hall of Fame's permanent collection. The second smaller version appeared as Lot 1185 in REA's May 2009 auction, where it realized a final sale price of $7,638. The final example, in slightly lesser condition, appeared twice: once as Lot 984 in our April 2006 auction (realizing $3,770) and again as Lot 1316 in our April 2014 auction (realizing $8,295). The offered large-format poster displays minor restoration to some tears along the single, vertical fold line, as well as in repair of a nine-inch horizontal tear extending from the right border into the illustration of the elephant on the far right. All of the restorative work is very unobtrusive and does not detract in the least from its overall Excellent to Mint appearance. This is a spectacular display piece with a rare universal appeal. Matted and framed to total dimensions of 46 x 37 inches. Disclosure per section 13 of REA's terms and conditions: This lot has been consigned from the personal collection of an executive or employee of Robert Edward Auctions (or a relative of an executive or employee). Reserve $10,000. Estimate (open).
SOLD FOR $12,000
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