Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Object Name Card, Trade
Date 1884-1887
Description Trade card. Chromolithograph on paper. Illustration of an elephant standing on a large scale with the name "FAIRBANKS". The elephant holds a sign in his trunk: "FAIRBANKS / STANDARD / SCALES." A man stands at left working the scale; a man wearing a turban stands next to the elephant. A crowd of men, women, and children stands at right, in front of a tent with an American flag flying at top. Printed inscription lower right: "Weighing / Barnum's White Elephant." In small print at bottom left: "Donaldson Brothers. N.Y." The reverse side is blank.
Acquisition Collection of the Staten Island Historical Society
Ownership and History In January 1884, the famous showman P.T. Barnum secured what was advertised as a rare white (albino) elephant from Burma. Barnum named the elephant "Buddha" and exhibited it first in London, then brought it to New York City in March 1884. Since the elephant was actually a pale gray rather than pure white, the public who came to see the creature were said to be disappointed. (A rival circus man, Adam Forepaugh, simply painted an elephant white). Sadly, Buddha died in a fire that killed many of Barnum's circus animals in November 1887.

Donaldson Brothers printing firm was located in the Five Points neighborhood of lower Manhattan, New York City. It was established in 1872 and merged with the American Lithographic Company in 1892.
Earliest Date 1884
Latest Date 1887
Maker Donaldson Brothers
Material Paper
Subjects Advertising
Trade cards
Circus animals
Ephemera
Lexicon Sub-category Advertising Medium
Catalog Number X12.0014
Support Acknowledgment Online Collections Database record made possible by the Staten Island Historical Society, December 2012.
Legal Status Images and text in this database are copyrighted by the Staten Island Historical Society unless otherwise noted. Items represented here are from the collections of the Staten Island Historical Society. Materials reproduced for personal non-commercial use must credit the Staten Island Historical Society. Commercial licensing is available.