Who could recall the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.? As a toddler I’d watch “The Mickey Mouse Club” on TV and can only dream of ever going there; as a boy, during a family of eight from Wisconsin it had been financially out of reach and beyond a distance, we could travel.
When the park first opened to the overall public on July 18, 1955, there was the main gate admission of $1 for adults and 50 cents for children; each ride or attraction cost between 11 cents and 36 cents in cash.
From the complaints that visitors were being nickeled and dimed to the death, Disney had introduced lettered tickets, or coupons, in October 1955, just three months after opening. The famous “E” coupon – more popularly mentioned because of the E-ticket – was introduced in June 1959 with the introduction of the Matterhorn, Disneyland Alweg-Monorail, and Submarine Voyage rides. The “E” ticket rides were for the foremost popular and exciting attractions within the park. These tickets are collectible today, and Disney could have easily been inspired by how earlier public attraction with whilst big, if not bigger name recognition in its day: the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Although Wisconsin was known for the varied circuses that came from or summered there within the 19th century, none were more renowned than the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Founded in Baraboo, Wis., in 1884, the family of circus owners and performers that became synonymous with the American circus built the foremost important and most famous circus within the planet by the 1930s. They were the sons of German immigrant August Frederick Rungeling (simplified to Ringling). Of the seven Ringling brothers, Albert (1852-1916), Otto (1858-1911), Alfred (1861-1919), Charles (1863-1926), and John (1866-1936) started their own backyard circus after seeing one offloaded from a steamboat at the Baraboo docks on the Baraboo River. the first Ringling performance involving all five brothers happened on Nov. 27, 1882, in Mazomanie, Wis. it had been perhaps more a vaudeville show than a circus, but it did highlight that the brothers were talented showmen. Two brothers were danced, two played instruments, and two sang. The brothers used their profits to urge evening suits and hats.
On May 19, 1884, employing a traveling wagon, a rented horse, and a partnership with veteran showman “Yankee” Robinson” (Fayette Lodowick Robinson), the Ringlings opened their first circus. Two years later, the Ringling brothers had their own donkey and a Shetland pony, the makings of their first animal trick act. A fifth brother, Henry, joined the show that same year, while Gus, the seventh brother, joined soon after. In 1887, its official title was Ringling Bros. it’s called United Monster Shows, Great Double Circus, Royal European Menagerie, Museum, Caravan, and Congress of Trained Animals. Now that’s a mouthful!
The circus continued to grow but its progress was slow, though not for lack of diligence, skill, or keen management. The brothers had each a separate duty; Alfred handled publicity, Gus arranged advertising, Albert picked the acts, Charles produced the show, Henry attended each performance, Otto managed money, and John supervised transportation. John’s routing of their circus kept their traveling show from direct clashes with competitors and hit small, overlooked towns just like the one they grew up therein grew their audiences.
Two circuses agreed to divide the U.S. rather than competing head-to-head? The Ringlings established their headquarters in Chicago while Barnum and Bailey stayed in New York: neither seemed to invade the other’s region.
By 1900, the Ringling brothers had one among the foremost important traveling shows and commenced buying other circuses. The Ringlings bought Barnum and Bailey Circus in 1907 after the death of James Bailey in 1906. it had been at that time a business decision was made to remain the two as separate circuses. By the 1910s, the Ringling Bros. Circus had made a permanent move to winter in Sarasota, Fla. With a population of only 841 residents, the addition of Ringling’s quite 1,000 employees, 335 horses, 27 elephants, 15 camels, and other assorted animals that traveled on 93 railcars made the town a town. The Sarasota Herald proclaimed the event because the most startling and important announcement ever made within the history of Sarasota.” The Barnum and Bailey Circus was roughly equivalent in size. Audiences declined sharply with the start of the war I and with many employees joining the military, the Ringlings combined the two circuses into The Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Combined Shows, otherwise more famously billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. Members of the Ringling family controlled the circus until 1967 once they sold it to the Feld family, who kept the name.
As an adolescent within the ‘60s, I used to be considerably drawn to the circus, but not for the acts – it had been the animals that lured me in. Even while within the military, when passes were granted, I might attend the local zoos if the town had one. On the farm, we had many animals but not the elephants, camels, and zebras that I could see there. I even recall a hippo that I pat once. Later in life, I believed these early interactions resulted in my earning a doctoral degree in zoology.
It was issued a while before 1933 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of THE RINGLING BROTHERS shows (its “Golden Jubilee”), the Chamber of Commerce of Baraboo, Wis., in unison the circus, issued six different monetary notes, or scrip. as long as the five Ringling Brothers were from Baraboo, Wis., it’s not surprising that one is pictured on each note with all five appearings together on the $1 note. Below may be a list of the subsequent scrip:
• 5 cents featuring John Ringling
• 10 cents featuring Charles (Chas) Ringling
• 15 cents featuring Alfred (Alf) T. Ringling
• 25 cents featuring Otto Ringling
• 50 cents featuring Albert (Al) Ringling
• $1 note featuring all five brothers
The reverses of the notes are all equivalent and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the circus from 1883 to 1933.
Each note features a unique serial number that, in most cases, matches the color of the middle rosette on the notes (5 cents: yellow, 10 cents: red, 15 scents: pink, 25 cents: purple, 50 cents: green, and $1: blue). The notes were redeemable in trade or by the Chamber on or before Nov. 1, 1933, as indicated on each note.
Today, they are highly collectible and not too often seen in a complete set. They are generally offered in combinations of two or three notes, and most often purveyed in singles.