Friday, February 21, 2014

Mystery: John Briden's Circus in Newark, New Jersey

Here's a stumper. I came across the front of an envelope that was postmarked in 1958. Half of the business-size envelope features an illustration and return address for Briden's Circus.

Briden's Circus billed itself as "the enormous little circus," with more than 600 hand-carved figures. The proprietor and address were:

42 Isabella Avenue
Newark 6, New Jersey

Granted, this envelope dates back 56 years. But does anyone have any information or memories of Briden's Circus? Alas, Google has very little to say.

I'm guessing that it was either (1) a shop where circus-themed miniatures — perhaps for use with model railroads? — could be purchased, or (2) an elaborate display that people paid money to see, along the lines of Roadside America in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, or The Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

But those are just guesses.

The only additional clue that I was able to find online was in The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art's online collection.

"Miniature Circus: Lion Head" (pictured at right) is a featured piece of art (an ink-on-paper illustration), and the maker is listed as John P. Briden. It is part of the Tibbals Digital Collection.

That's it.

Comments and leads welcome!


  1. I just LOST a too-long message.. John Briden, mini circus Ring Master -- was a long time next-door neighbor of my father's family.. Try to contact his daughter -- Marygrace Briden Deluca -- at I will be back when I have time..

    1. sqOOps = I had the Rong Mg.!
      ... Mary Grace Briden, is ON Facebook ; lost her married name.. Her daughter added a new comment below . . .

  2. Problems getting a message IN Here
    > herb Kingsland
    > photos
    > albums
    > John Briden...

    Trying again....

  3. Hi Herb! I am Mary Grace's daughter!

    1. Hi Again
      ... We are in contact, on Facebook . . .

  4. We have been looking for my grandfathers collection for years! We have some of his pieces but most of it was donated. My mom seems to think it was donated to Waterloo Village....but no luck finding anything so far!

    1. ... I have a mag article, somewhere ; that gives name of the museum.. Will tell you when I find it.. Files are in a bad mess.!

  5. Chris Otto- Curious where you found his envelopes!

    1. If memory serves, I came across it in an antique store in York New Salem, Pennsylvania:,_Pennsylvania ... The owner stocks his store with many unwanted paper lots from auction and estate sales. So it was likely the long-ago possession of someone in the central Pennsylvania area.