P.T. Barnum

Letter from P.T. Barnum to Major James Pond


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Barnum on His Reciepts from the Barnum & Bailey Circus to Major James Pond.

  • P.T. Barnum (American).
  • Victoria Hotel, Southport: July 2, 1882.
  • Octavo.
  • 2 pages, pen and ink.

Barnum writes to his lecture manager, Major James Pond, declining an invitation to lecture in England and revealing his gross receipts from his Barnum & Bailey’s show. Reading in part, “Thanks for your offer for me to lecture … the receipts of our big show were in first 6 days $74,051.00 — the whole ten days over $108,000, and on one day Saturday June 17 $15,742.15. This seems incredible — but is the honest truth. We think that “Jumbo” [an African elephant recently purchased from the London zoo] adds £800 — or $4,000 daily to our receipts — certainly for 8 months or 36 weeks he will add to our receipts $15,000 per week or $540,000! — £109,000 sterling. Is it any wonder that we decline an offer of £100 per day & all expenses for the 75 or 80 winter days that we can’t exhibit in America?” Barnum closes with a postscript, “Ask Hoffman if he can tell me how to get the Mexican dwarf girl on resonable terms for Ringling show next summer …”.

Major James Burton Pond (1838-1903) was a lecture promoter who, in addition to Barnum, represented Samuel Clemens, Winston Churchill and Henry Stanley.

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Old folds and light browning at margins.

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