Myton circus playbill

Myton circus playbill

Circus playbill
Myton, Kingston-upon-Hull, England
October 1798
Museum no. S.216-1978
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This early circus playbill from Hull promises a feast of entertainment including singing, dancing, feats of strength, trampoline and slack rope tricks, vaulting, a horse jumping through a paper hoop, a pantomime and the ever popular fireworks. This particular performance was for the ‘Benefit’ of the equestrian performer Mr Crossman, which meant that he would have earned a percentage of the profits. One of his acts, ‘The Taylor Riding to Brentford’, was a comic performance on horseback popularised at Astley’s Amphitheatre in London by Philip Astley, which involved changing costume several times while galloping round the ring. This early example of a circus playbill was quite short because it was printed on hand-made paper. Circus advertising benefited later from the developments in paper-making methods which could make paper in an extended strip. Circus playbills sometimes added small woodcut illustrations at this date, but when the paper was longer, they could add exciting illustrations to attract the crowds.