By Chris Nashawaty
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:56 AM EDT

Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901-1927

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Most authors of circus books make a beeline for the freaks. And while we appreciate a gander at good ol’ Jo Jo the Dog-Faced Boy as much as the next guy, surely there was more to life under the big top than oddities. Photographer F.W. Glasier thought so. And this collection of his glass-plate photographs examines not just the marquee curiosities, but also the folks who cleaned up after the elephants and did the lion tamer’s laundry. Through his proletarian lens, Brylcreemed concessionaires get their due alongside bearded ladies. And while Glasier’s snapshot of ”cranial hopper” Alexander Patty descending a flight of stairs on his noggin is a hoot, it’s his portrait of a trio of shady ticket sellers, ready to fleece their next unsuspecting mark, that stays with you long after this circus leaves town.

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Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901-1927

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