Early 20th-Century Papier-mâché Circus Lion’s Head

Value (2008) | $2,000 Retail$3,000 Retail

Well, I bought it about... I'd say 15 to 20 years ago at a garage sale, and he had all this stuff out there for sale, and Mr. Lion was hanging on the corner of a table, and everybody was laughing, making fun of it, and I said, "I think I'd like to have that." I told him I'd give him a dollar for it. He said, "Give me two," and I said, "I will," so I bought it. Took it home, and everybody clapped and laughed and thought it was funny.

Do you know what it is?

Well, it hung above their firep... one of their fireplaces in their house for years. I think from probably the day the house was built. Probably the late 1800s.

All right. What this piece actually is, is a circus piece.


And this is one of those decorations that they would use in a circus, either inside the tent or around a carousel. So when you went to the old circus, you would walk in, you might not be able to get close to the animals, but there were all these heads all around, which is a lot of the reason why they used wild animals on carousels. It's papier-mâché-- it only weighs about a pound or two. Easy as they move from town to town, easy to pack up, and off they would go. One of the things I absolutely love about this piece is it's got taxidermy'd eyes rather than painted eyes.


So it just looks so realistic, and it really is a beautiful early 20th century circus decoration.


And you paid two dollars for it?

Two dollars.

There are not a lot of these that come up at auction, and we really feel that if you were to see this in a retail shop, someone that does just circus memorabilia, that this probably would sell somewhere in the $2,000 to $3,000 range.

This is all news to me. I just thought it was a papier-mâché thing they got to hang above their fireplace.

Appraisal Details

Daniel Buck Appraisals
Lisbon, ME
Appraised value (2008)
$2,000 Retail$3,000 Retail
Wichita, KS (July 12, 2008)
20th Century
Animal, Bust
Glass, Papier-mâché

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