I have collected many things over the years, ranging from daylilies to American art pottery . I collect vintage garden gnomes, paintings by Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant, old ink bottles, bearded iris, 1950′s Canadian art and lots of other things. Another genre I also like is Vintage Circus Banners ! Imagine my surprise when my latest acquisition appeared on the hit TV show ‘Storage Wars’ in 2012 ! I love looking at these banners on the internet. There are lots of fabulous ones still out there.I remember going to the ‘Side Show’ at the ‘Red River Ex’ in Winnipeg , Manitoba as a child. I actually saw A MAN BECOMES A WOMAN BEFORE YOUR EYES, PENGUIN BOY, THE RUBBER- SKINNED MAN, POOPOO and THE DANCE OF DESIRE and others. It cost twenty-five cents to go into the tent to see all the amazing attractions. i remember the ‘barker’ outside the tent announcing over his hand microphone’ Don’t worry about the neighbours, folks – they’re already inside!’
When I found this fabulous banner for ‘Pumpkin Boy’ for sale in Los Angeles, I knew I had to buy it. For one thing, that was one of my nicknames used by my four older brothers and sisters growing up. My head was unusually large as a child- I still can’t buy a hat that actually fits. I phoned the antique shop that was selling it and bought it at once. It arrived in a few days, and immediately was hung up in our huge workshop out at the farm. I love the face on the nurse holding ‘PumpkinBoy’ ! I love ‘He’s Got Seeds For Brains’ – which I identify with !! Months later, I was shocked to see Barry Weiss unfolding this very banner in one of his ‘Storage Wars’ lockers ! The episode was called ‘Almost The Greatest Show On Earth’ . Barry found three banners in a locker and took them to an ‘expert’ for an appraisal. I remember that she HATED mine ! She is an idiot – and has no taste ! Barry sold the lot of three to some dealer for a few thousand dollars – a bargain. I have read online that aspects of this show are ‘fake’, and that items are planted in some of the lockers. I do wonder….as I had already bought ‘PUMPKIN BOY’ before the episode aired.
Another circus banner hanging in our workshop came from ‘Baker’s Dozen Antiques’ in Vancouver, BC. ‘Homicidal Jugulator’ was made for a sword swallower !! It is quite old, probably from the 1930′s. ‘Baker’s Dozen’ had quite a few of these banners about eight years ago. I just missed ‘THIS WAY TO THE GIANT RAT’, which an American department store bought. Rats. I did get a 10′ x10′ ‘EXOTIC NIGHTS OF WONDER’, which is an Arabic scene for belly dancers ! I also got one saying ‘VICTOR/VICTIM, with arrows pointing two different directions. I gave these to Brent for Christmas that year, and he enjoys looking at them every time he takes his tractor out !