Tony Sarg: Balloonist, Puppeteer, AND Fabric Designer

"Balloons Over Broadway" by Melissa Sweet

I love it when two of my favorite things, books and textiles, intersect. That’s what happened when I discovered a new book, Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Melissa Sweet (

I have long had a soft spot for children’s books even before I became a mother and often can’t stop myself from buying them just for me. So, I was delighted to discover a children’s book about Tony Sarg. Tony Sarg pursued many things in his life, illustrating, designing toys, and creating puppets, but he also designed fabrics. In ATHM’s collection we have several yard goods that were designed by Sarg and represent circus imagery. The fabrics embody the same type of humor Sarg used in designing the helium-filled balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. These first helium-filled balloons, used in 1928, were made of rubberized silk so they would be light enough to float…..another textile connection!

Below are two Tony Sarg designed prints in ATHM’s textile collection. For more about Balloons Over Broadway I recommend checking out the blog,

Yard goods, 1941. Tony Sarg (designer). Accession number: 2001.38

Yard goods, early 1930's. Tony Sarg (designer). Accession number: 1996.90.2

I would love to hear of any other new children’s books and textile connections.

Karen Herbaugh, curator

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