Souvenir of the Circus Red and Green Clown

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Green and red illustration of a clown beating a drum on a yellow background with green text

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A circus is a popular form of entertainment consisting of trained animal acts and daring human skills. Although some elements of the circus date back to Roman times, the modern circus is founded by Philip Astley in England in 1768 after discovering to keep his balance when standing on a horse galloping in a circle with the help of centrifugal and centripetal forces. In 1770, Astely added clowns, musicians, acrobats, rope dancers, and jugglers in addition to equestrian exhibitions to provide entertainment. The circus was introduced to the United States in 1793 when John Bill Ricketts presented novelty entertainment in Philadelphia and New York City. During the 19th century, Joshuah Purdy Brown and Hachaliah Bailey developed the circus to become a traveling tent show with the help of exhibitions of exotic animals. In the 1870s, P. T. Barnum and William Coup added multiple rings and stages to expand the physical space and used rail as daily transportation to increase popularity in America and internationally. In the 1880s, Barnum partnered with Bailey to produce shows that were significantly remembered in the United States for more than a century. Throughout the years, the circus went through cosmetic changes including automobiles replacing equestrian acts. Today, the circus remains to be highly adaptable in the performing arts.


Britannica. (n.d.) Circus. Retrieved July 12, 2021, from

Jando, D. (n.d.). Short history of the circus. Circopedia. Retrieved July 12, 2021, from

Catalog ID EV0462