Clyde Beatty and Cole Circus Posters at Hamilton

The Globe Printing company was one of the leading producers of posters for advertising popular, pre-television-era attractions such as circuses, stock car racing, and rodeos. Baltimore Globe was the first of four branches in the Globe Printing Company.

The Globe Collection at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum gives us an uncensored glimpse of history uniquely expressed through popular commercial art produced in the mid-20th century. This collection comes from the Chicago Globe branch, owned by Frank Zimmerman, who donated the blocks to the Museum. 

The Globe Printing collection contains artfully designed posters with dynamic use of typography and dramatic illustrations carved into wood, vinyl and magnesium printing blocks. The images are often large, bold, and colorful; the accompanying text is designed to grab attention. Skillful artists composed images and then carved them into wood blocks. Restrike posters of select wood blocks are available in the Hamilton Dry Goods store

The commercial printmakers understood their craft, anticipating how textures and cross-hatching marks cut into the blocks would represent line and texture when printed. Overlapping colors maximized the color palette.

One prominent client of Globe Printing was the Clyde Beatty and Cole Circus, which began in 1945. Clyde Beatty was an animal trainer of great repute. He also owned a zoo and financed many circuses. Beatty started his career as a circus cage boy performing in a cage with a lion. Hopefully, he made sure the big cat was well-fed before entering.

Over several decades, Beatty became a renowned circus performer. From 1945 to 1959, the Clyde Beatty and Cole Circus toured across America. Beatty featured several animal acts as well as clowns and stuntmen.

Printers often “borrowed” artwork from other shops, so certain images show up in Hamilton’s Globe, Enquirer, and Tribune poster archives. The Clyde Beatty posters from Enquirer often include the name of a specific artist –  Roland Butler – which is notable because posters artists in this era and genre rarely signed their work. The "Captain Astronaut" print shown here is one example of Butler's work, as evidenced by the initials "RB" in the lower left corner of the print. 

Enquirer Collection

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