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Efemérides. 250 años de Circo (1768-2018)

  • Issue date: 09/02/2018
  • Printing Process: Offset
  • Paper: Engomado
  • Size of stamp: 28.8 x 40.9 mm
  • Sheet effects: 16 en PP y 25 en pliego
  • Postal value of the stamps: 1.35 €
  • Print run: 5.000 en PP y 180.000 en pliego


250 years of Circus (1768-2018) – Girona, Circus World Capital

The first circus show was put on in London in 1768 by English horse-riding acrobat Philip Astley. One of his competitors, Thomas Price, brought the show to Spain in July of that same year. This year the circus is celebrating the 250th anniversary of its birth and its arrival on our peninsula with the Elefant d’Or International Circus Festival in Girona.

The military dominance of the British Empire generated a deep equestrian culture with strong horses accustomed to the rigours of war. In times of peace, soldiers and mercenaries developed a new kind of horse-riding show that provided them with a new source of income through ticket sales. In the 1760s, these Englishmen would exhibit acrobatics and balancing acts on trotting horses in the spring and summer in London (especially in the narrow meadows flanked by the Islington hills) and would subsequently take the show around Europe and the colonies every winter. This new form of entertainment fit perfectly with the 18th century desire to dominate nature while demonstrating a clear superiority of it. The circus was born.

According to a series of etchings preserved at the National Library of Spain, in 1768 Englishman Thomas Price performed at the Puerta de Alcalá Bullring and the Plaza Cerrada of the Buen Retiro Royal Palace in Madrid (inv. No. ER2807). Price’s were the first documented shows of a new style that would attract more than 50 equestrian troupes specialised in this type of acrobatics to the country over the next century and a half. This anniversary is being celebrated with the Elefant d’Or International Circus Festival, the country’s largest circus event, which is coming to the city of Girona for its seventh edition featuring more than 80 unknown European artists from 17 countries. Organised by Circus Arts Foundation, it is one of the five largest circus festivals in the world and attracts 30,000 spectators each year.

The stamp  depicts an etching from 1768 entitled: Ejercicio de montar a caballo by Bernardo Albiztur y Tornaria, currently held by the National Library of Spain. This issue is a Premium sheet with a pop-up featuring a die-cut circus tent.


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