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Phineas Taylor Barnum was the epitome of the American showman. Born in Connecticut, on the 5th of July 1810, he started a local newspaper in 1829 (The Herald of Freedom), but after some wild claims and a few libel suits he headed down to New York in 1834 to begin his career as a showman. With the help of an Afro-American woman, named Joyce Heth, who was supposed to have been George Washington’s nurse, Barnum eventually purchased Scudder’s American Museum in 1841 adding many new exhibits (including General Tom Thumb), making it one of the most popular shows in the United States. In 1850 he employed Jenny Lind to sing at $1,000 a night for one 150 nights ! By 1871 he established his a traveling circus, menagerie and museum to be known as the “Greatest Show on Earth”.

In the interim he served as a prominent politician in the Connecticut State legislature. And it was he who cast the deciding vote for the abolition of slavery after the Civil War.

In commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Barnum as mayor of Bridgeport (1875) a special pin was released on a numbered Contest Card, with a drawing date of July 5th (Barnum’s Birthday) featuring his portrait. The front side of this Contest card shows a stylized drawing of Barnum’s elephant Jumbo, which was the world’s largest at the time and purchased by Barnum from the London Zoo in 1882 for $10,000. It was he who promoted this word, ‘Jumbo’ into the English language to denote, huge. Each pin is in perfect condition with some cards showing signs of aging – an interesting piece of Barnum / circus / Connecticut history.