Stamp of approval: Postal Service unveils circus series
Circus World Museum Executive Director Scott O'Donnell and Mayor Mike Palm unveil circus-themed stamps released Monday at Baraboo's post office.
May 5, 2014
Standing on the ground where the Ringlings first performed beneath a tent, Circus World Museum leaders and Baraboo’s postmaster unveiled Monday a series of stamps depicting vintage circus posters.
Dozens of circus fans gathered in the Baraboo post office’s parking lot to hear dignitaries hail the stamps and ringmaster Dave SaLoutos play a calliope. They lined up to buy the stamps and get a special postmark from “Circus World Station.”
“The circus always brought people together from all walks of life,” Postmaster Karen Caylor said.
The stamp series coincides with the 130th anniversary of the Ringling brothers’ shows. Their first performance under a tent – on May 19, 1884 — took place near the intersection of Broadway and Second Avenue, where the Post Office is today.
“Their accomplishments have become interwoven into the fabric of our community,” Mayor Mike Palm said.
The new stamps feature performers and animals from 20th century circus poster art. Scott O’Donnell, Circus World’s executive director, said posters were critical to promoting circus performances. The museum has 80,000 posters, the world’s largest collection of such lithographs.
“The circus invented what would become modern-day marketing,” he said.
The Ringlings Bros. Circus maintained a traveling post office that operated from one of its wagons. Monday’s event recalled those days, with Circus World staff doing business from a Cole Bros. circus ticket wagon.
Looking to capitalize on the U.S. Postal Service’s unveiling of the new stamps, Circus World worked with Caylor and regional postal officials to create a special cancellation that depicts a big top and a postmark from “Circus World Station.”
“This event was a lot of fun to create,” Caylor said.
Gaining fame via stamp is nothing new for one member of the Baraboo circus community. Greg DeSanto, a longtime Circus World clown who now runs the International Clown Hall of Fame, appeared on a 1993 stamp celebrating American circus heritage. “My stamp you had to actually lick: That’s how old I am,” DeSanto quipped. “I was only worth 29 cents.”
The stamps released Monday will be good forever. A limited supply of commemorative envelopes depicting the stamps will be available through Circus World’s website at www.circusworldbaraboo.org or by calling (608) 356-8341.