Vintage Circus Posters and Flyers from the Leeds Playbill Archive

The Leeds Playbill project is an online archive of some of the oldest circus posters and vintage playbills to date.  Authentic circus ads from this collection were originally produced between 1860-1890 in Leeds, West Yorkshire in the UK, and come from numerous theaters.  All of these posters demonstrate excellent typography work through antique press printing, especially given the copious amount of text that you wouldn't normally see on posters today.  The kerning and alignment of the type in these posters is what makes the massive wall of text bearable, with the high contrasts and colorways providing for an overall aesthetic appeal in combination with a mixture of flashy fonts.

Generally, using so many different font types on a single page would disagree with principles of good design, but because of the way the headlines are laid out (and also the time period), these playbills work in grabbing your attention.  Upon a quick scan from top to bottom for each of these playbills, you're able to obtain the necessary information regarding the theater event, with the body text filling in the negative space just enough to give the posters a fuller look.

Leeds Playbill Gallery
Woodtyper blog post on Leeds Playbills


kim said...

I'm a total type geek and I think I'm in heaven. What a beautiful collection of vintage posters. So charming. I love how on some of them they use a different typeface every line... the cheek!

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Underdone1 said...

The John Sanger poster from Leeds contains a vignette of a clown in the lower right corner - it is taken from a full length engraving of my ancestor "Little Huline". I have a copy of the original.

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