John Bramwell Taylor Collection

Tom ThumbRef: NFA0086

Title: The John Bramwell Taylor Collection

Scope: The collection consists of handbills, programmes and small flyers for shows, fairs, expositions and circus performances in the nineteenth century. The circus material in the Bramwell Taylor Collection was sponsored by the Circus Friends Association of Great Britain and consists of material relating to 19th century touring circuses, individual acts and purpose built hippodromes such as Hengler’s Circus and Astley’s Amphitheatre. Additionally this collection also contains a small amount of personal archive including, correspondence, notebooks, family trees and family photographs.

Dates: 19 Century
Level: Fonds
Extent: 4 boxes
Name of creator: John Bramwell Taylor

Administrative / biographical history: The John Bramwell Taylor Collection comes from the estate of John Bramwell Taylor a Yorkshireman who migrated to the South East of England during the 1930s and died in 2003. John Bramwell Taylor spent his working life as a porter at the Travellers’ Club in London and spent all his free time and money collecting printed ephemera. Very well known to dealers and collectors of ephemera he had a deep and abiding knowledge of early printing history. He collected in all areas and the material that is now in the National Fairground Archive is only one small aspect of his Collection. John Bramwell Taylor died in Notting Hill London in 2003 and his large and extensive Collection was split on his death.

Materials relating to acts in the Egyptian Hall are quite prolific in the Bramwell Taylor Collection. The Egyptian Hall (1812 – 1905), owed its conception to William Bulllock, a goldsmith and collector from Sheffield who moved his private collection of natural history material and curiosities to London in 1810. In 1812 he ordered the construction of his London Museum at 22 Piccadilly at a cost of £16,000. Known as the London Museum, or Bullock’s Museum and latterly the Egyptian Hall was heavily influenced by all things Egyptian in particular the Description d’Egypte, (1809-28). This series of engravings first revealed the wonders of the Pyramids and the Sphinx to Europeans, following the archaeological discoveries (or looting) by the French and the English during the Napoleonic wars. Throughout the nineteenth century the Egyptian Hall became a venue for all types of optical illusions, peculiar entertainments and the London premier for P.T Barnum and Tom Thumb in 1844 and latterly the home of magic through its association with Maskelyne & Cooke for thirty two years until its demolition in 1905. Notes on Shows of London

Related collections:

Source: This material was purchased in 2006 and 2007 with the aid of a grant from the University of Sheffield Alumni Foundation, the Circus Friend’s Association of Great Britain and individual members of the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain and friends of the National Fairground Archive. (W. Marshall Amusements, Sue and Vernon Bristow, Heather Clay, Russell Cook, Josephine Freeman, Tommy Green, Stephen and Nicola Hill, John Houghton, George Irvin, Peter Sedgwick, Norman Sayer, John Silcock, George and Flora Smart, the late Arthur Stevens, Roger Tuby, David Wallis, Billy Whitelegg, Jimmy Williams and Celine Williams.)

System of arrangement: By venue and by format
Subjects: Variety and Music Hall, Zoological Gardens, Optical Illusions, Fixed Entertainment Venues, Travelling Entertainment, Performers, Freak Shows, Speciality Acts, Exhibitions, Pleasure Gardens, Menageries
Conditions of access: Digital surrogates are able to view by appointment in the NFA reading room through Adam Matthews digital
Restrictions: None
Notes: Dating of the material is on-going with the help of British Library 19th-century newspapers
Copyright: Copies may be supplied or produced at the discretion of National Fairground Archive, subject to copyright law and condition of the material
Finding Aids: Online finding aid available here