Answered By: Beth Hylen
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2016     Views: 36

You are welcome to come to the Rakow Research Library for information about flameworkers who performed with circuses. We are open from 9:00 to 5:00 weekdays (closed for the holidays Dec. 24-27 and Jan. 1).

I recently did a lecture on the history of lampworking/flameworking, including itinerant glassblowers. Most of our information about circuses (there is not a lot) comes from secondary sources, including an article by Shane Fero [“The Evolution of Flameworking in 20th Century America: Performance Art in Carnivals, the Circus, World’s Fairs, and Tourist Attractions”] in the 2004 Glass Art Society Journal plus a variety of articles (basically oral histories) published in early issues of Glass Line. Glass Line also includes glassblowers for Disney and other attractions.

We do not have original photos or posters from Barnum & Bailey Circus or other circuses. For this type of image, you may wish to contact The Circus Museum at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art:

A search of the Ringling library's catalog for "glass blower circus" shows a variety of books, articles and other materials and some are available online (via Google Books).

Are you interested in itinerant glassblowers in general? Our library has original broadsides and other material about Victorian era itinerant glassblowers. Take a look at Bandhu Scott Dunham's chapter 1 in Contemporary Lampworking, vol. 1 for an overview of these types of materials.

This article also describes the glassblowers and some of our holdings:

Wright, Virginia L. “The Intrepid Troupers.” The Glass Club Bulletin no. 174, Fall/Winter 1994, pp. 5-11. Note: 19th-c. itinerant fancy glassblowers and their glass steam engines

I attached two bibliographies listing some of our materials relating to itinerant glassblowers.

A colleague compiled an extensive list of individuals who were listed as itinerant glassblowers or troupes in our documents, articles, etc., together with additional information if available. That list is included in the bibliography. It needs some updating with glassblowers found in the Glass Line articles (and my lecture).

If you wish to obtain copies of books or articles, please contact your local library. The Rakow Research Library is a member of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). Your library can contact us through OCLC or they may send an Interlibrary Loan form to us through e-mail, mail or fax. You may request up to 10 items at a time. We send photocopies of articles and will also loan books if a second copy is available in the library collection. Books are loaned for four week periods. Contact for further information. Documents and other original materials may not be loaned - please come see them in person. (Some may have been digitized).