Ringlings vs. Barnum & Bailey


1898 lithograph

In the early days of the circus, their greatest competition was other circuses.  Though many of the major shows stayed within a particular region of the country year after year, there was a great deal of overlap.   This created tension among those circuses vying for not only patronage, but prestige. 

As the 19th century was drawing to a close, the Barnum & Bailey Circus was the largest, most respected show on rails.  It enjoyed very little opposition on the East coast for many years.  However, the Ringling Brothers Circus, which had traditionally stayed within the midwest, was rapidly gaining in size and reputation. 

Then, at the end of the 1897 season, James A. Bailey decided to take his circus on a five-year tour of Europe.

Asia and America
Ringlings vs. Barnum & Bailey