The Schoenhut Humpty-Dumpty Circus was an American-made toy popular from its introduction in 1903 until the 1930s. Schoenhut’s Circus grew to include more than 60 animals and performers, three rings with canvas tents, and parade wagons. Consumers could choose individual pieces to create whatever combination of animals and characters they desired. The people and animals were made with elastic and ball joints that could be arranged in realistic poses. The acrobats and other performers could even be positioned on the trapeze or high-wire.
Unlike many other toys of the time, the circus was intended for use by both boys and girls, and it was marketed as such. This was an innovation in the toy industry, which even today markets most toys to one gender or the other.
The DAR Museum’s circus is part of the Merritt Collection of toys donated by Jacqueline Ernest Merritt in 2006.
Volume 144, Number 3, May/June 2010, Page 25
Photography by Mark Gulezian/Quicksilver