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ZPW825 - Folk Art Hand Carved Clown Head attributed to the Barnum Circus, Birdgeport CT


This wonderful large piece of Utilitarian American F olk Art is probably one of the rarest forms of American Folk Art you will ever encounter.

This piece is carved from one piece of wood and is carved in the shape of a Clown's Head. It was found in an attic of an 1880s victorian house less than one mile from the former site of the Barnum Circus in Bridgeport Connecticut. Many times Circuses would put their acts in houses that were very near to where they worked.

I am attributing this to being a very early circa: 1890s/1920s Barnum Circus Attractor. An Attractor would be an item that sits next to a Carnival Game or sideshow to draw people's attention to the particular game or sideshow. This looks as if it were set on a pole as it has marks on the bottom showing this possibility. (see last picture)

Very few of these attractors still exist with private collectors or museums. This Clown head is carved and painted and still retains some original varnish. It has age cracks and marks that show it was used. It is a very rare piece of American folk Art and a very rare piece of American Circus history. 

It is approx. 12 inches tall x 11 inches in Diameter.


An attribution is at best an educated guess. It is by no means solid fact. An Attribution can be proved or disproved at anytime with evidence.

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