A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 14, 2004
“Greatest Show on Earth”
The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus bills itself as "The Greatest Show on Earth." Trademark records show a first use on July 21, 1891.

New York City-born entertainer Dan Rice called his entertainment the "the GREATEST show that ever traveled" in 1853 and the "Great Show" and the "Greatest Show in the World" by at least 1859. "The 'country press' are unanimously of the opinion that 'Dan Rice's Greatest Show on Earth,' now traveling in the West, is the most consummate humbug extent" was cited in print on May 17, 1871.

P. T. Barnum (1810-1891) is often said to have coined the phrase "Greatest Show on Earth." However, that can no earlier than 1871, when Barnum's travelling circus was founded; the earliest Barnum citation in print is and advertisement from May 31, 1872. The circus is now named the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The circus has defended the trademark against "the Greatest Snow on Earth" (used by the state of Utah) and "the Greatest Bar on Earth" (used by Windows on the World, on top of a now-destroyed World Trade Center).

Maker Faire has called itself the "Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth."


Wikipedia: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is an American circus company billed as The Greatest Show on Earth. The company was started in 1919 when the circus created by James Anthony Bailey and P. T. Barnum was merged with the Ringling Brothers Circus. The Ringling brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1907, but ran the circuses separately until they were finally merged in 1919. In 1957 John Ringling North changed the circus from using their own portable tents to using venues, such as sports stadiums that had the seating already in place. In 1967 Irvin Feld bought the circus, but in 1971 he sold it to Mattel. He bought it back in 1982.

History
The Barnum & Bailey Circus (The Greatest Show on Earth)

In 1875, Dan Castello and William Cameron Coup persuaded Barnum to lend his name and financial backing to the circus they had already created in Delavan, Wisconsin. It was called "P.T. Barnum's Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, and Hippodrome". The moniker "Greatest Show on Earth" was added later.

Wikipedia: Dan Rice
Dan Rice (January 23, 1823 – February 22, 1900) was an American entertainer of many talents, most famously as a clown, who was pre-eminent before the American Civil War. During the height of his career, Rice was a household name. Dan Rice was also an innovator, as he coined the terms "One Horse Show" and "Greatest Show" whilst becoming the pacesetter for the popularization of the barrel-style "French" cuff.
(...)
Decades before other circuses used the phrase, an Arkansas paper praised Rice's as "The Greatest Show on Earth."

15 November 1853, (Natchez, MS), pg. 3, col. 4 ad:
DAN RICE
Now claims to have the GREATEST show that ever traveled.

29 June 1859, Boston (MA) Traveler, pg. 3, col. 5 ad:
DAN RICE'S
GREAT SHOW!
(...)
DAN RICE, HIMSELF!
with all the other manifold attractions of the Greatest Show in the World, will be brought forward in BOSTON

Chronicling America
17 May 1871, Cairo (IL) Daily Bulletin, pg. 3, col. 4:
The "country press" are unanimously of the opinion that "Dan Rice's Greatest Show on Earth," now traveling in the West, is the most consummate humbug extent.

Chronicling America
31 May 1872, Wheeling (WV) Daily Intelligencer, pg. 2, col. 5 ad:
The Greatest Show
ON EARTH!
P. T. Barnum's
Great Travelling
Museum
Menagerie

8 June 1872, Titusville (PA) Morning Herald, pg. 4, col. 1:
The Greatest Show on Earth!
P. T. BARNUM'S
GREAT TRAVELLING
MUSEUM
MENAGERIE.

15 June 1872, Cleveland (OH) , pg. 4, col. 9 ad:
The Greatest Show
ON EARTH!
P. T. Barnum's
Great Travelling
Museum
Menagerie

OCLC WorldCat record
Illustrated history of wild animals and other curiosities contained in P.T. Barnum's new and greatest show on earth, museum, menagerie, polytechnic institute, and international zoological garden.
Author: S S Smith, Prof.
Publisher: New York: : Press of Wynkoop & Hallenbeck, no. 113 Fulton., 1877.
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The P.T Barnum's Greatest show on earth and the Great London circus ; Sanger's Royal British menagerie and the Grand International Allied shows
Author: P T Barnum
Publisher: [New York : Sun Job Printing, 1881]
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
The Adventures of Mr. Podger at Coup's Greatest Show on Earth : his haps and mishaps.
Author: W.C. Coup's New United Monster Shows.
Publisher: [New York? : W.C. Coup's New United Monster Shows, 1882]
Edition/Format: Book : English

OCLC WorldCat record
In grand combination, P.T. Barnum and Co's greatest show on earth and the Great London Circus and Adam Forepaugh's new and greatest all feature show circus, menagerie & hippodrome : a glorious union of the amusement monarchs for the New York season only : the story briefly told.
Publisher: [New York] : Richard K. Fox, show printer & engraver ... , [1887]
Edition/Format: Book : English

(Trademark)
Word Mark THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES IN THE FORM OF A CIRCUS. FIRST USE: 18910721. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19070000
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 78493144
Filing Date October 1, 2004
Current Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition August 23, 2005
Registration Number 3015685
Registration Date November 15, 2005
Owner (REGISTRANT) Ringling Bros.- Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE 8607 Westwood Center Drive Vienna VIRGINIA 22182
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Lisa Zeiler Joiner
Prior Registrations 0787963;2185161;2380169;AND OTHERS
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Affidavit Text SECT 15. SECT 8 (6-YR).
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityHolidays/Events/Parades • Wednesday, July 14, 2004 • Permalink