GRAY, Maine – It all started when Frank Robie was a boy in northern New Hampshire. Television hadn’t been invented yet. There was no movie theater near his rural hometown. When the circus came to town – now, that was entertainment!
When it packed up all of the animals, costumes, tents, and props, young Frank found an unwanted, now out-dated poster, and took it home to keep the memory of all the fun and excitement alive.
Rare Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus poster, on the block at Cyr in late March.
Robie, a self-described “accumulator,” may have started his circus collection with a fairly common collector’s item, but his collection soon grew to include anything and everything related to the circus – popcorn bags, a monkey bicycle, biscuit tins, programs, costumes, fine art, you name it, he ‘accumulated’ it. It is this large, wonderful and varied circus collection, along with collections of phonographs, wax cylinder recordings, dolls and toys, breweriana, militaria, musical instruments, firearms and more that Cyr Auction Company will sell at its March 29 Collectors’ Auction.
Robie’s Circus Collection features: more than 20 rare photographs by E. J. Kelty, described by a biographer as “the Cecil B. DeMille of Circus Photography,” two costumes worn by the ‘King of Clowns’ Felix Adler, a full-sized Mills’ Brothers Circus Parade Chariot, and original circus art by illustrator Walter Krawic, Robert Robinson, Bernard Rosenmeyer, and a rare Ash-Can School etching ‘Hunt’s Three Ring Circus’ signed Martin Lewis.
For collectors of circus memorabilia, along with a recent Connecticut Auction, these are good days. The Robie Collection is one of a kind and a sale with this amount of quality circus material isn’t likely to come on the block again any time in the near future. A preview is available online, as is more information about the collection itself and Frank Robie, the man who put it all together.
For more information, call 207-657-5253, or go online to www.cyrauction.com.