George Wombwell’s NEW Royal Appointment

After 172 years, George Wombwell’s visit to Windsor Castle is to be celebrated at a family event day at the Castle! Queen Victoria’s Circus will be a true family affair, with circus acts and stuffed elephants and even a lion tamer!

Date: Saturday, 14th September 2019

reproduced by kind permission of the copyright owner, 2019

A storyteller wil relive, on the very spot, the menagerie’s visit during 1847. Lots of events and children can also join the circus for a day! I trust you know somebody that might want to attend, especially if they have never been to Windsor Castle. It’s all included in the standard price tickets.

A programme is being produced which includes the above image. I have permission to reproduce it here. It is a very rare image of the day at Windsor Castle in 1847. I’ve only ever seen one in many years of searching for it.

I think George Wombwell would appreciate the involvement of children as it was his wish to let everyone see the beasts of the wild, no matter how poor they were at the time. There are many instances of newspaper reports of George allowing whole school classes in to see the menagerie for free.

The website is here

Goose Fair, Nottingham, England

The above postcard shows some of the non-menagerie booths at the annual show and is dated May, 10th 1907. A fighting booth can be seen, which was popular at the turn of the century.

This postcard, also from Nottingham Goos Fair, dated 1906 is hand tinted and shows the statue of Queen Victoria in the foreground. The booth in front of the statue (rear side of sign only) is Wombwell’s superior pitch, seen in the close-up below

Bostock and Wombwell Band Wagon

A Grand Bostock and Wombwell bandwagon in USA parade at Circus World Museum, Wisconsin where many Victorian Menagerie items are on display/stored. Any B&W items were probably from Frank Bostock’s collection.

Colour printed postcard, verso: This elegant vehicle dates back to 1882 England. A remarkable feature of this wagon are the six-foot diameter rear wheels. The Wombwell name dates back to 1805 when it was used on a travelling menageire. Photo:Jim Morrill

New PostCards received

The following two cards are displayed for the first time and concern Tom Thumb, a well known entertainer from late Victorian society.

The NFA has a page on the American Tom Thumb: Charles Sherwood Stratton. These cards show what one card claims as ‘The English Midget’ and the other as ‘ The Turkish Tom Thumb’

The former card shows Harold Pyott, aged 32 and just 23 inches high. The latter card shows Pasha Hayati Hassid, born 1852 at 30 inches. he was introduced into the English entertainment industry by Lloyd Forsyth, according to the card (verso). requires further research.

Both persons appear top me as rather sad.

Flip-Flap at Exhibition

Earlier in the blog, I mentioned the view from ‘Flip-Flap’ at the Japan-British Exhibition held in London during 1910. This card shows ‘Flip-Flap’ towering over the main pavilion on the site. A cross between the Ferris Wheel and Tower, my guess is that it ‘flipped and flapped’ from side to side. I doubt though that it was very fast!

Interesting to compare with the earlier card, reproduced below. The chimneys are missing and a garden or plazza has apeared in the view. Possibly, the pavilion in rear centre was still being constructed in the colour photograph, dating it to 1910 or earlier

Bostock’s Smallest Horse in the World?

Bostock and Wombwell’s claimed at several times in their history, to possess the smallest horse in the world. Indeed, several competitors made the same claims to draw crowds to their booths.

Where Bostock succeeded was in not quite telling the truth. In this card they show the ‘smallest horse in the world’, but closer examination of the photo-printed card, reveals it is a composite of two photographs. Doctoring photographs for financial gain, is not a new phenomenon and showmen were ‘at it’ here in 1911 (used card, franked Jul 24 11). I doubt anyway, that a horse and a dog would stand still in that position long enough to have their portraits taken!

New Items: 12 views of the British Empire Exhibition 1924

The following souvenir set of cards show some of the many scenes from the 1924 British Empire Exhibition. Containing 12 cards in all the set is complete with original envelope.

Series C Souvenier Envelope – front
View of the Exhibition area showing Wembley Stadium at top right, on the edge of the exhibition space.
Wembley Stadium Terrace, 1924
View of the Gardens at the Northern entrance of the site
East Africa Building
Canadian Pavillion
Courtyard, Indian Pavillion
Indian Pavillion
Malaya Pavillion
Palace of Engineering
Nigeria Building

New items added to the Collection – April 2019

Bostock’s Zoo, was thought to be located in Baltimore, USA. It was owned by Frank Bostock. This image, although a representation, shows a wealth of wild animals and performers/handlers. Needs more research. There are photographs of it after a fire completely destroyed it during 1901.

Cenetaph Remembrance Ceremonies started in the early 1920s and there is extensive research on its origins.

This view, from ‘Flip-Flap’, shows the extent of the exhibition and the reuse of earlier exhibtion buildings. ‘Flip-Flap’ was a cross between a Ferris Wheel and Tower (x2) The name tells its own story, but is not to be confused with a USA ride of the same name.

Items added to the Collection

The following were recently digitised for the online collection:

Ellison’s Entertainers needs research. States ‘also at Ramsgate, Margate and Aberstwyth’. Known to have been at Brighton, so assume this is Brighton. Overwritten 1920
Popular pastime to dress up for a portrait. Note ‘NPG’ 2003 sign. Modern card only. Probably USA.
Broncho Bill’s Elephants – Salt and Saucy: needs research. Performer not yet known as this entertainment lasted many years from late 19th C to mid 20th C. Identification of performer will date the card(s)

Another of Broncho Bill’s Salt and Saucy

See https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/nfca/researchandarticles/alfball

Franco-British Exhibition, 1908 Fine Arts Palace. ‘a Fine Art Palace (with paintings by Hogarth, Gainsborough, Corot, Courbet…’ https://www.alliancefrancaise.london/1908-Franco-British-Exhibition.php

New Items Added to the Collection

More than 100 items have entered the collection. The task to digitise them is underway. Here is the first 12 items, including postcards and photographs. High resolution files are always available for non commercial usage. At this time we have a Bostock and Wombwell image being displayed at exhibitions in the South West of England, under the Devon Remembers Heritage Project, World War I.

Zena Aged 32 years, postcard. Date and Place unknown

Zamah ‘King of Wild Animal Trainers’ Gale and Polden postcard, undated

Southend-on-Sea Bandstand. Postcard. Indated, advert ‘Battle of Waterloo’.

Sanger Boys Photograph, Bounmouth, England. Mounted on Advertising Card. C. A. Allman

Nottingham Goose Fair, various booths, dated 1904. Postcard sent in post.

M. L. Morelli, trainer of Leopards and Jaguars at Bostock’s Jungle, circa 1905 – 1913. Postcard

Hull Fair, circa 1910. Postcard by Welstead, undated

Hull Fair Booths 1904, Postcard

Elephant Tea Party in Theatre. Paris Hippodrome circa 1910
Postcard by Steven White, Los Angeles

Bostock and Wombwell Burrell Seam Engine with operatives from B&W, Possibkly for pulling caravans and/or generating electricity. Circa 1913. Now known as ‘Rajah’

Bostock’s Jungle from Painting by G. Soury, Paris
Prolific artist of Circuses and menageries, Paris, circa 1905

Bostock’s Bongo the Performing Sealion, Postcard, Place Unknown, Circa 1925