The Monkeys' Circus, Circus Stories
New York: McLoughlin Brothers, 1883. Stiff wraps. 4to; [16pp]; stiff glazed color pictorial wrapper, ownership in light ink to front top margin; publisher’s string binding; pictorial title page on verso front wrapper, ownership in decorative ink on title page; chromolithograph illustrations every page with verse, all within a yellow border; chipping to wrapper edges, 2 ½” long chip to rear wrapper at fold, 1” closed tear to wrapper fore edge and first leaf, some light finger soiling in margins; illustrations are bright and binding tight; very good minus. Located in 5 WorldCat libraries. Very good. Item #1154
Bright and humorous chromolithographs of monkeys in circus acts, with an accompanying titled rhyme. The sixteen illustrations represent circus performances with anthropomorphic monkeys, including scenes of spinning dishes, jumping through a hoop on horseback, racing chariots, walking on a tight-rope, performing as a classical musical group, lovers riding in a carriage, a carriage accident, and a dinner party. A shocking scene featuring a firing squad titled, “The Doggy Deserter”, pictures a fort flying an American flag, armed monkeys in military uniform with a drummer, and a dog prisoner! The rhyme tells the story,
“Here’s a Doggy deserter who fled from his post,
But was caught and brought back, looking pale as a ghost.
When tried, the court-martial said he must be shot!
I am sure you would pity his very sad lot,
Unless you were told, when the story is done,
That the shooting, of Doggy, was only in fun.”
Tales of woe, mishap, and even war are not unusual in 19th century juvenile picture books and literature, however, a firing squad of monkeys is a surprise. Scarce.