History of the
Circus Model Builders
In 1935, The Billboard magizine ran an article about "Backstein's Minature Circus," which at the time was the largest complete 1/2" scale circus in the world. The article was read by thousands of readers, one of which was Charlie Bennett. Since Charlie was doing the same thing, building little circus wagons, he wrote to Bert Backstein. Later that year, Bert & his family visited the Bennetts. During thier conversation, they wondered how many other circus model builders there were in the United States and discussed the possibility of forming a club to help the builders exchange ideas. Bert knew of two more builders that would be interested in these plans: George Graf of Peru, Indiana and and Ralph Miller of Memphis, Tennessee. The men formed a little club and called themselves "Ralph Miller."
Charlie wrote the first article for The Billboard, calling for other members and explaining the objects of the club. In a few days, John Sheppard of Chicago joined, and our first officers were: Ralph Miller-President, Goerge Graf-Vice President, Bert Backstein-Publicity Man, John Sheppard-Secretary/Treasurer, and Charlie Bennett-General Manager. Thus the "Circus Model Builder & Owner's Association" was born.
Circus Model Builders are men and women, boys and girls who love the circus so much they want to have one of their own. They know and are fascinated by the circus as a whole. They know the progress of a circus day from the minute the first train or truck pulls into sight until the fading lights in the distance tell them that the show is gone and that another circus day has become a memory. A Circus Model Builder's goal is to own a show in miniature-down to the last performer,roustabout, bull, wagon, or prop. Whatever the size-one wagon or a complete show-you can be sure it is a true replica of this great institution.
In January of 1965, the organization was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the corporate name was changed to “Circus Model Builders, Inc.”
Today there are over 750 members located in the United States, Canada, & several other countries.
Educating The Public And Preserving Through Their Models The Great American Circus
Founding members of the Circus Model Builders, Bert Backstein (left) and Charlie Bennett, Sr.