Norfolk, UK - Fred G. Johnson (1892-1990) painted sideshow banners for the O. Henry Tent and Awning Company in Chicago for 40 years from 1934-74. Apparently known as the 'Picasso' of circus art, Johnson designed advertisements for the Century of Progress Exposition, the 1933 World's Fair, White City and Riverview amusement parks, and traveling shows including Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey and the Clyde Beatty Circus.
Johnson's banners have been exhibited in museums, and sold in auctions including Sotheby's New York in 1981.
Top lot at Gaze's Rural & Domestic Bygones sale on Saturday is a sideshow banner which looks to be in the manner of Fred G Johnson for 'Percy Pape 7ft 1in tall, weighs 63lb - first time in Coney Island'. Pape, who wore tights in performances to accentuate his thinness, married the diminutive Dolly Regan as a publicity stunt to create the world's strangest married couple.
The banner is estimated at £600-£900. There are 721 lots in the sale and the specialist is Rob Kinsella.
Salvo Directory 09 Aug 2005
Story Type: Auction Report