Last Updated: Jul 17, 2017     Views: 91

Figure 2: Broadside for Madame Nora's original
troupe of glassblowers. Monday April 17

You are welcome to come to the Rakow Research Library for information about flameworkers who performed with circuses. Our library is open to the public, and you can find out more about your visiting the library on our website.

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).

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, “The Intrepid Troupers.” by Virginia L. Wright,  also describes the glassblowers. 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 borrow copies of library items, please contact your local library. The Rakow Research Library will lend designated books from its collection and will send copies of articles requested by other libraries. Your library can request items through the OCLC WorldShare Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system or by direct request through email at For more information, please see our ILL website.

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