Poster advertising Blondin at Crystal Palace
Museum no. S.71-1981
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
This poster advertising the French tightrope walker Blondin, was remarkably bold for its time, featuring a large woodcut image of the famous performer. By 1869 Blondin was a regular feature at the Crystal Palace. When the proposal to hire him had first been made in 1862, one of the directors was concerned about the bad publicity that an accident might provoke. ‘Suppose he was to fall?’ ‘Blondin, fall from a rope!’ replied Harry Coleman, his manager, ‘He can’t’. Blondin was offered a fee of £1,200, four times as much as the next highest paid performer. This specially adapted bicycle, or velociped was one of the props he invented to keep the act from becoming stale. In the 1960s, 100 years after its invention, Blondin’s grandson found his grandfather’s velociped for sale in a London junk shop. Another prop used by Blondin, a wheelbarrow with a grooved wheel to keep it on the rope, is in the Museum's collections.