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Given by David Fitzroy
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Horse brasses were decorative plaques used to attach to martingales, especially of shire and parade horses, and were popular from the mid 19th century onwards. In England they became traditional objects used to decorate pubs, and have since become collectors' items.
This brass is a souvenir of Chipperfield's Circus, which has its roots in the 17th century when it is said a Chipperfield set up a booth on the Thames during the frost fair of 1683, and showed a dancing bear. Other generations of Chipperfields were fairground entertainers, but James William Chipperfield (1803-1866) was an enterprising showman who toured a conjuring show, and his son, called Charles William (1824-1913), was the proprietor of Chipperfield's Caffer Circus which flourished in the 1850s and 1860s. Various members of the family inherited circus skills and became showmen, and at the turn of the century there were at least two branches of the family operating shows and running menageries. During the 1930s the Wild Beast show of Richard Chipperfield (1875-1959) developed into Chipperfield's Zoo-Circus and by 1955 Chipperfield's Circus was filmed by the BBC as Double Top and was one of the 'Big Three' touring circuses in Great Britain in the 1950s and 1960s.
Roughly circular horse brass incised CHIPPERFIELD'S CIRCUS, the top outside edge scalloped, the centre cut out around the tooled and incised figures of a tiger riding an elephant.
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
Incised: CHIPPERFIELD'S CIRCUS
Height: 10.3 cm, Width: 9.0 cm at widest point
Horse brass commemorating Chipperfield's Circus. Brass, ca.1900.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Chipperfield's Circus. An Illustrated History David Jamieson. Aarvark Publishing
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