CIRCUS - Cooke Family
[Disbound albums of photographs relating mostly to members of the Cooke family, depicting circus performances around the world, as well as portraits and other travel photographs]
Various places: Mostly 1920s. Two oblong albums, or portions of albums, with many detached images. In all, approx. 300 photographs. Many trimmed and mounted, mostly 2x3 inches or smaller.
A fascinating archive of photographs relating to the famous family of Cooke's Royal Circus.
The Cooke family was one of several notable families, during their time, of circus performers and owners that spanned several generations. In circus families, family members were taught and trained in the necessary skills of various acts in the circus from a young age and then integrated into the family business. Cooke's Royal Circus was started by Thomas Cooke in Scotland around 1780, after which he and his extended family members traveled around Scotland and England doing performances. They were especially noted for their equestrian acts and continued to gain in popularity and grow to around forty participating family members by the 1830s. In 1836, Thomas Cooke's son brought the show to America where they performed in cities including New York, Boston, and Philadelphia before returning to Britain following a mixed reception. They continued to perform throughout the rest of the 19th century and the 20th century in both travelling shows and various "permanent" locations. Images include animal acts with elephants and horses, as well as clowns, stunts and other acts. Many images are captioned detailing locations, including Great Britain (including performances at Wembley Stadium), France, Italy and India. Although mostly from the 1920s, the album includes a loose carte-de-visite of John Henry Cooke, autographed by him on verso and dated 1874.