Saturday, June 2, 2012

Circus Wagon History Reposted--In An Effort To Keep It Straight

Sarasota  1950

How many of these "elephant" wagons were there, and how many are in existence today?   Why does the wagon at the top have a large wheel in back and the wagon's below have small wheels under the undercarriage?

Are these the same wagon's from opposite side's?  If so, why two different color schemes? 

FLINT said...
The elephant tab in the top photo was built originally for Sells-Floto Circus. You can distinguish it from the Al G. Barnes elephant tab in the bottom photo by the rear wheels. The Barnes body was a bit wider and had the shorter wheels both front and back, thus allowing the body to be wider.

There was also an elephant tab wagon built for the Hagenbeck show but the carvings are considerably different.

When the elephant tab at CWM was first (re) constructed in 1986-87 the body was painted white. After further study of photo's it was decided to repaint the wagon in the ivory color that is on it now. At the same time repair was done to some of the carvings and the design was added to the front and back to make the wagon more historically accurate.

On a personal note, this was the first wagon that my (present) wife, Dawnne, had a chance to help on.

      I had to go digging around some more rather than just leave it as I have no idea what is going on here. The carvings at Jungleland came off of the Al G. Barnes elephant Tableau around 1939. I apparently don't have a photo of this wagon. According to some wagon notes that Joseph Bradbury kept, the carvings were created by Bode wagon works in Cincinnati who also made the carvings for the Sells-Floto elephant tab, thus the very close similarities in design.
      The 1917 photo of the Hagenbeck-Wallace elephant tab was taken in the last year of its existence as it was destroyed in a train wreck according to Mr. Bradbury's notes.

'Unfortunately, it looks like the nicest of the "elephant tab" wagons, in my opinion the Hagenbeck-Wallace wagon, is gone forever.  What happened to the Sells-Floto "elephant tab" which was so similar to the Al G. Barnes "elephant tab" currently at Baraboo who's elephant carvings were formerly at Jungleland?  To bad there are not the funds to permit the magicians in the CWM wagon barn to totally "recreate" some of the great beauties lost forever.' 

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