The real Dumbo set to fly high at Chorley’s July auction.

A rare late 19th Century advertising banner depicting the legendary Jumbo the elephant is set to achieve £3,000-5,000 at Chorley’s July sale.

It is believed that this flying banner portrays Jumbo, the ‘Most famous elephant on earth’ and the inspiration behind Disney’s Dumbo. The majestic beast resided at London Zoo from 1865-1882 before being sold to American entertainer P.T. Barnum of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus  (who inspired the film The Greatest Showman) for £2,000 and transported to the USA amid public outrage. 

In 1882, 100,000 school children wrote to Queen Victoria begging her not to sell the elephant and John Ruskin, a fellow of the Zoological Society wrote in The Morning Post in February of that year;

“I , for one of the said fellows, am not in the habit of selling my old pets or parting with my old servants because I find them subject occasionally, perhaps even periodically, to fits of ill temper and I not only regret the proceedings of the council, but disclaim them utterly, as disgraceful to the city of London and dishonourable to common humanity”.

Jumbo became the star attraction of Barnum & Bailey’s ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ and the circus earned $1.75M in their 31-week season. On 30th May 1884, Jumbo was one of Barnum’s 21 elephants to cross the Brooklyn Bridge to prove that it was safe after 12 people died during a stampede caused by mass panic over collapse fears a year earlier. Jumbo died after he was hit by a train in Ontario, Canada as he was led back to his boxcar after a performance in 1885.

The banner is oil on thick cloth canvas mounted floating in a contemporary frame with museum grade glass to preserve and enable viewing of the rear of the banner. The two-dimensional pose and bold silhouette make this a wonderful piece of British Folk Art.

Chorley’s, Prinknash Abbey Park, Gloucestershire GL4 8EU
. Sale dates: Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th July 2019

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