WEB POSTER EXHIBITION - Historical circus posters in The Hague

This web exhibition accompanies the current exhibition "KOMT DAT ZIEN!", circusposters fom the Best collection in De Affiche Galerij, Spui station in the tramtunnel in The Hague, The Netherlands. The following text and the pictures were kindly provided by Wendy Louw, curator of the exhibition.

From February 3rd to April 13th 2006, 60 historical circus posters will be on display in De Affiche Galerij (The Poster Gallery), the exhibitionspace specially made for posters on Spui station in the tramtunnel in The Hague, The Netherlands.

For this show a choice was made from the collection of Jaap Best (1912 - 2002). His postercollection alone consists of more than 7000 circusposters and the collection holds many more circus-parafernalia. After his death in 2002 the Teylers Museum in Haarlem has played an important part in the conservation and registration of the collection. The foundation 'Circusarchief Jaap Best' was founded and, in cooperation with Pictura Imaginis, a Dutch firm specialised in image-digitalisation, almost all of the collection was photographed and made accessible on the internet via www.circusmuseum.nl

Incorporated in Jaap Best's collection is the largest collection of 'Friedlaenders' in the world. 3500 posters from this worldfamous German lithographer for circusposters (1872 - 1935) can be found in the collection. For this first circusposter exhibition in De Affiche Galerij, a selection was made from this part of the Best collection.

Lithographer Friedlaender

Adolph Friedlaender (1851 - 1904) founded lithographer Friedlaender in Hamburg (Germany) in 1872. From the beginning, this printshop specialised in manufacturing circusposters. The colourfull lithographies were exceptionally well made and almost every German circus, as well as most other European and even some American circusses became regular customers. Also fun fairs, carnivals, theaters and, every once in a while even independent variety artists had posters made by Friedlaender.

The shop had its own designers and drawing artists. In the glorydays over 400 posters a year were made. During World War I and the crisis years that followed this number gradually went back to a production of about 100 posters a year. In 1935 the lithograper Friedlaender had to close because of it's Jewish background. That year the last poster (number 9078) was printed. Numbering the posters started in 1890 and this makes it possible to chronologically order the posters.

Erdwin Schirmer (1884 - 1964) was an acrobat. He also worked as a lithographer and bookprinter for Friedlaender. When the shop closed he saved a large number of the filing copies. After his death Jaap Best bought this collection of about 3500 Friedlaender posters.

Jaap Best, collector

Jaap Best (1912 - 2002) was born in Alkmaar. At the age of seven he became enthralled by the circus, when the circusses Wilhelm Hagenbeck and Corty-Althoff visited his home town. From those days onward he tried to see as many shows as he could and he began to collect their advertisements.

In 1947 he actually worked in a circus, first as administrative employe, later on as secretary to the director of the circus, Karel Strassburger. In the 1960s' he was an administrator to Circus Carola Williams-Althoff, the Wiener Eisrevue, Circus Harry Belli and the Berliner Eisrevue. Working for so many different circusses, Best managed to acquire a vast collection that was unique in The Netherlands. The collection gainied international recognition when Best bought the collection of the German acrobat and collector Erdwin Schirmer in 1964.

Jaap Best wasn't just a collector of circus memorabilia, he was also a circus historian. His contributions to magazine 'de Piste'were detailled and thoroughly well written, as is his book '70 Jaar circus I Nederland (1971)' 70 years of circus in The Netherlands. For over half a century anybody who wanted to know anything about circus and it's way of life, could contact him. He seldom showed his collection but it was his wish that the collection would be accesible to everybody, after his death.

The exhibitions in De Affiche Galerij (Spui station, tramtunnel, The Hague, The Netherlands) are organised and co÷rdinated by the The Hague City Archives. For this particular exhibition we would like to thank Pictura Imaginis for making all the reproductions and the Teylers Museum in Haarlem for their cooperation.

For more information contact: The Hague City Archives
Wendy Louw

home  previous exhibitions  page created on February 14, 2006 / this section is part of Rene Wanner's Poster Page /