Thanks to the help of Jennifer Lemmer Posey, Associate Curator of the Circus Museum at The Ringling and Editor of Bandwagon, The Journal of the Circus Historical Society, we have the identity of the gentlemen seated above, drawn on an envelope by Henry Herman Cross (1837-1918) and mailed June 30, 1884, to James Anthony Bailey (1847-1906).
He is the entrepreneur and circus owner Adam John Forepaugh (1831-1890), once called ‘the Nobelist Roman of them all.’ From 1865 through 1890, Forepaugh owned and operated a circus under various names including Forepaugh’s Circus, The Great Forepaugh Show, The Adam Forepaugh Circus, and Forepaugh & The Wild West. His operations were at least equal to or larger than those of P. T. Barnum.
Forepaugh’s outfit “even claimed forty elephants for the 1883 season in response to the birth of P. T. Barnum’s ‘baby elephant’ at his winter quarters barns in Bridgeport the year before. The ‘Elephant wars’ of the 1880s were a result of a generation of gambling management tactics that many people understood as bluster.” — Susan Nance, “Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus,” JHU Press, Jan 14, 2013.