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Humpty Dumpty Circus

play set

At the turn of the century, Philadelphia toy maker A. Schoenhut seized upon the circus mania that had spread across the nation, producing miniature versions of the beloved circus performers and animals. Called the Humpty Dumpty Circus-a name inspired by a popular play of the time-the toy line became an immediate success. Schoenhut sold many different combinations of circus figures, ranging from elaborate boxed sets with upwards of thirty figures to smaller sets and individual pieces. This photograph shows what an early Humpty Dumpty Circus set may have looked like (please note that this does not comprise an original set). The lithographed canvas tent has a colorful backdrop depicting the audience and a group of performers entering the ring. The performers, including a Lady Circus Rider, Negro Dude, Animal Trainer, Acrobat, Ringmaster, and a Clown, all have bisque or two-part heads (with a face made of a composition-type material glued to a wooden, lathe-turned base and neck), and the animals all have glass eyes. Schoenhut produced such figures until World War I, when the company changed production techniques to reduce costs. The set also includes several original Schoenhut props, including a circular metal cage, wooden ladders and chairs, and brightly painted pedastals. Circus sets remained in production until 1935, when the Great Depression forced Schoenhut out of business.

  • Manufacturer: The A. Schoenhut Co.
  • Material: canvas | lithographed | wood | elastic cord | paint | bisque | cloth
  • Origin: Philadelphia, PA
  • Object ID: 111.7122
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