Published: September 29, 2020
CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions presented its circus, sideshow and oddities sale on September 26, conducted entirely online but streamed live from the firm’s gallery.
“Cavalcade of Wonders. Freaks Past & Present,” an enormous entrance-type sideshow banner on painted canvas, circa 1930s-’40s, was the sale’s top lot, finishing at $28,000 on 24 bids, against a $6/9,000 estimate. Depicted on the banner is a full cast of sideshow performers, including a snake charmer, magician, three-legged man, tattooed man, Ubangi “savages,” frog boy, little people, fire-eater, sword swallower, half man and others. More than 20 feet wide and 90 inches high, the banner, attributed to Fred Johnson, had the normal tears, patches, rips and folds consistent with age and use, but only scant repainting. Gabe Fajuri, the president of Potter & Potter Auctions, said he believes the price realized for the lot is a record price for a sideshow banner. More than 700 lots of circus, freak and sideshow memorabilia spanning two centuries were presented in the sale. Watch for a full recap in a later issue.
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