St. Louis: Great Western Printing Co., Show Printers and Engravers, 1886. Item #7262
St. Louis: Great Western Printing Co., Show Printers and Engravers, 1886. Two-sided herald (10.5" x 28") printed in black on yellow newsprint. Text on bottom of each side reads "Black on Yellow, Car No. 1 Great Western Printing Co., Show Printers and Engravers, St. Louis. No. 4," with "Binghamton Mon. May 10" stamped in blue at bottom of verso in the "Will exhibit at" blank. Illustrations and performance roster in two columns. Headline on recto fabulously reads "The World Ransacked for All Its Wonders."
Illustrations feature the Grand Street Demonstration, the Egyptian Bovalapus (actually a water buffalo), two from the Equestrian Organization (assumed James Robinson, in his famous somersault, and Emma Stokes, wife of show proprietor John B. Doris), "Old Betts" the War-Elephant, a Troupe of Turkish Athletes, another of Bicycle Riders, Siberian Roller Skaters, knife-thrower Riffia Bey, and reptile-queen Katamorpa. Text roster adds everything from Human Blood-Sucking Vampires to a Menagerie of Infant Animals. The show carried a robust equestrian lineup, including the aforementioned Robinson, who was only the second person to execute a bareback somersault and, at the height of his career, was the highest paid equestrian in the United States. Another notable performance was the seven-person clown troupe led by Johnny Patterson, the Irish humorist and songwriter best known for his song "The Garden Where the Praties Grow."
In the show's route diary for this year, compiler and Superintendent of the Confectionery Department E.C. White writes that the 1886 run was "one of the most successful seasons Financially and Professionally ever known...Notwithstanding the strong opposition experienced at the commencement and close of the season.” On May 8th for the stop in Elmira, NY just preceding this poster’s show in Binghamton, the diary notes “First day of the Forepaugh opposition.” From there, the rival Adam Forepaugh Circus & Wild West Show began to follow the Doris route a few days behind but sending their tack-spitters ahead to put up adverts for their own show before Doris's arrival in town. The Binghamton stand was 135 miles down the Lake Erie and Western Railroad, and the opposition brigade had already gotten there. The diary entry for the date on this herald notes “Forepaugh bills us heavy here,” but despite the opposition advertising and an amount of rain goes on to say “business good.” Forepaugh would set up in Binghamton four days later on the 14th. (The route diary, as an aside, descends into an almost Sisyphean resignation as this goes on, simply writing "Forepaugh" or "Forepaugh again" entry after entry until on June 25th offers the existential almost-haiku "We ferry here. Forepaugh is billed here. Rain all day.")
In keeping with classic origin stories, John B. Doris ran away at fourteen and joined the Dan Rice Circus. He soon bought privileges on the Rice show along with George Batcheller and soon the two split off to start Batcheller & Doris' Great Inter Ocean Circus. Doris bought out his partner in 1881 and continued as the sole proprietor until 1888 when heavyweight boxer John L. Sullivan became a partner. Sullivan, one of the first true sports celebrities, was meant to engage in a sparring exhibition each night, but missed so many shows due to his excessive drinking that Doris closed the show mid-season and retired from traveling to work in theater production. Doris seems to have been well-liked by other circus folk, earning the nickname Hunky Doris.
Herald is in excellent condition overall, with a shallow, half-inch chip at bottom and a couple tiny chips and tears in margins along edges, along with a few small pinholes to surface, none involving or interfering with text. Flattened remnant of a horizontal crease at center. A couple smudged thumbprints to top margin on recto. Print is clean and color even.