At the turn of the century, Philadelphia toy maker A. Schoenhut seized upon the circus mania that had spread across the nation, producing miniature versions of the beloved circus performers and animals. Called the Humpty Dumpty Circus-a name inspired by a popular play of the time-the toy line became an immediate success. It featured ten core performers, over thirty different animals, and a wide variety of accessories, ranging from simple props like chairs and ladders to elaborate, three-dimensional canvas tents.

All of the Schoenhut circus performers have similar characteristics, including wooden or bisque heads, painted features, "crab" hands that could hold or support props, and jointed wooden bodies held together with elastic. Several types of clowns have appeared under the big top, including the white face, known for his clever pranks. Albert Schoenhut modeled his white face clown after the Humpty Dumpty troupe performers that also inspired the name of his circus set. Though their costumes vary, most of Schoenhut's clowns wear patterned one-piece suits, red shoes, and pointed hats. Of course, they also have white painted faces with expressive red and black details.


  • Title: Figure:Clown
  • Creator: The A. Schoenhut Co.
  • Date Created: 1918-1932
  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Subject Keywords: man, circus
  • Type: Play Sets
  • Medium: cloth, paint, elastic cord, wood
  • Object ID: 77.2449

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps