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Shared artwork in Wild West show posters reveals subtle differences

A poster with "Buffalo Bill Passant En Revue Les Cavaliers Les Plus Audacieux Du Monde" written on it and a bunch of people riding horses and holding various country's flags drawn below it.
Buffalo Bill Museum
Buffalo Bill Passant En Revue Les Cavaliers Les Plus Audacieux Du Monde, Weiners, Paris, France, ca. 1900, color lithograph, International Cody Family Association.

A recently opened exhibition at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West considers why some printers made small, but meaningful, tweaks to the posters used to advertise the Wild West show.

Two of the featured posters, one by an American printer and one by a French company, look almost identical. Buffalo Bill Museum Curatorial Assistant Sam Hanna said that’s because sometimes the printers that made the posters shared artwork.

“What's notable about these posters is that the art is modified in the French version to place the French soldier more centrally in the image and closer to Buffalo Bill. I find these interesting, because at first glance, they appear to be almost duplicates. But there are subtle differences upon examination that make them all more special,” he said.

The exhibition, “Advertising the Frontier Myth: Poster Art of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West,” is on display until Oct. 24.

Olivia Weitz is based at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody. She covers Yellowstone National Park, wildlife, and arts and culture throughout the region. Olivia’s work has aired on NPR and member stations across the Mountain West. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom story workshop. In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and going to festivals that celebrate folk art and music.<br/>