Sideshow: A One-Of-A-Kind Collection of Folk Art Toys

Willow Auction House is excited to present works of one-of-a-kind, circus-themed American folk art. 

The pieces, acquired from the estate of a New York collector, include entirely hand-painted, pre-war wooden toys. The lots are open for bidding in our upcoming Summer Great Estates Auction on June 10.

Among the featured lots is a wooden sideshow wagon train with eight oil on board sideshow attraction panels (lot #74). The panels depict historical and fictional sideshow acts including Bonnie Atwall the Bearded lady, Sylvaria the Mystery Girl, Sebastiana the Swallower of Swords, and others. Included with the panels are ticket boxes, tent poles, electrical fixtures, and a fitted wooden crate. The circus was by James Francis Doolan, a hobbyist who displayed his miniature circus in various parts of Southern New England. Though not a renowned artist, Doolan’s work demonstrates the quality craftsmanship seen in American folk art. The piece is estimated to sell at a price ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. 

The auction also features two lots of hand-painted Ringling Brothers and Hagenbeck Wallace circus wagons (lots #72 and #73), a mechanical circus wagon with horses (lot #71), folk art miniature accessories and figurines (lots #75 and 76), and a vintage Schoenhut Humpty Dumpty toy circus (lot #70). 

For More Information about the Great Estates Summer Curated Auction and to view the complete auction catalogue and calendar, please visit

Online catalog and registration can be found by visiting:

Online catalog and registration can be found on our site:

The auction is also available on other bidding platforms including liveauctioneers, invaluable, and bidsquare.

The auction ends on June 10, with live bidding beginning at 12pm EST. Click here to view the full catalog and register to bid.