It all began many years before we’d even heard of Vercoe, in 1938 when a Mr Arthur Vercoe Pedlar first visited Bertram Mills Circus—a circus that would spark his love of Clownmanship and lead to the creation of ‘Vercoe the Clown’ – his colourful alter-ego and the circus’ main attraction.
Due to his success, nearly 60 years later, Vercoe was the first non-American clown to be voted into the Clown Hall of Fame and Research Centre in Baraboo Wisconsin USA, a Clown ‘honour’ by any standard, and also was the first non-American to be voted President of the World Clown Association, for the year 2003/2004.. The centre, which originally began in Delavan, Wisconsin, is steeped in circus culture; originally a home for circus acts to audition and arrange contracts for their next season. Nearly thirty circuses would Winter there during the off-season period, using it as a base to negotiate on who would cover which territory when peak-season rolled around once again.
The centre has since become a popular tourist attraction, documenting both a hall of iconic Clowns and costumes from over the years and a cemetery where their famous artists and creators are laid to rest.
This journey was therefore a special one; Vercoe’s first, and last, pilgrimage and one that we were proud to be a part of in order to get him to rejoin his tribe.
On Vercoe’s journey to the prestigious Hall, we were commissioned to carry two life size mannequins—one as the classical White-face Clown (Arturo) to be dressed in the glamorous sequin costume Vercoe had already donated, and the dressed sitting mannequin of Vercoe as his own clown character, in a baggy Auguste costume. We also took a top half of a figure made up as Grimaldi, a famous pantomine clown. These torsos had been locked away in Arthur Vercoe’s loft for many years prior to this trip; the Hall of Fame already had one of Vercoe’s costumes on a hanger, but the arrival of the torso meant that costume and torso would be reunited once again, for all to see and enjoy.
Luckily, Vercoe behaved himself on the journey and there was no funny business. Our delivery team made sure he arrived safe and sound to the Hall of Fame, where he’ll now wait, ready to entertain many more people for years to come.