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. This figure, called the hobo, represents the tramp or hobo character clown. Charlie Chaplin epitomized the tramp on the silver screen, but the character often appeared under the big top as well. Schoenhut's hobos have scruffy painted facial hair, patterned shirts, and typically wear felt hats and jackets.