Sells Brothers' enormous united shows--Rare zoological marvels ...
Circus poster showing animals on exhibit in a tent, including giraffes, elephants, tigers, and hippopotami.
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Circus performers, shows, posters and lithographs. Modern travelling circus started in the early 1800s. Circus advertising used to draw crowds - there were only one or two performances per circus stop. Many ads were simple woodblock prints mentioning the name of the circus, the price of admission. Later, in the early 20th century, colorful, fanciful custom designs of leaping animals, clowns, and ringmasters became standard for circus posters.
Alois Senefelder, the inventor of lithography, introduced the subject of colored lithography in 1818. Printers in other countries, such as France and England, were also started producing color prints. The first American chromolithograph—a portrait of Reverend F. W. P. Greenwood—was created by William Sharp in 1840. Chromolithographs became so popular in American culture that the era has been labeled as "chromo civilization". During the Victorian times, chromolithographs populated children's and fine arts publications, as well as advertising art, in trade cards, labels, and posters. They were also used for advertisements, popular prints, and medical or scientific books.