Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Al. G Barnes Elephant Tableau

Al G. Barnes Circus Elephant Tableau Wagon (CWM - Baraboo)
Steve Flint said: When the Al. G. Barnes 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.
Al G. Barnes Circus Elephant Tableau Wagon (in Baraboo)
By Joseph T. Bradbury. Bandwagon, Vol. 1, No. 6 (Dec), 1957, p. 5.  [edited] 
Elephant Wagon 

Elephant Tableau Wagon, Al G. Barnes Circus, About 1922
We commonly call this wagon the "Al G. Barnes Elephant Tableau". It was built in the Al G. Barnes winter quarters in Venice, California in the winter of 1920-21 and first appeared on the Barnes show in the 1921 season. The Bode Wagon Works furnished the carvings for this and other Barnes wagons about the some time, but the actual construction of the wagon and the placing on of the carvings was done by the Barnes blacksmith and woodworking crew.
The wagon served on the Barnes show for the 1921, 1922, 1923, and 1924 seasons for sure and possibly longer. The Barnes show quit parading in mid-season 1924, the last parade being given July 14, at Denver. No parades were given in 1925 and following years. Some claim they saw it on the show as late as 1928, . Therefore there is a possibility that the wagon may have been carried in the years 1925-28, but I have not seen it in any photos of the show in those years. I have good coverage of the 1928 show in photos and the wagon is not present. It is my opinion, and only an opinion, but 1924 may well have been the last year on the show for the wagon.
After Al G. Barnes quit parading the wagon now becomes "lost" until the elephant carving only shows up some 15 years later. The [two] elephant carving[s] off this tableau wagon [were] recovered about 1939 and placed on the entrance gate to the World Jungle Compound at Thousand Oaks, California, near Los Angeles. This place has recently become known as "Jungleland", and the carving[s] [are] still there. What happened to the rest of the carvings and the wagon itself is not known to this writer but can be safely assumed that they rotted away or were discarded at the Venice (CA) lot.
 One extremely valuable comment comes from W. H. Woodcock, noted elephant trainer and fellow CHS member. Woodcock also is the leading circus wagon historian in the country and I accept always his findings as being positive fact. Woodcock says that the Sells-Floto Elephant Tableau discussed in the November issue was carried on the road by Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus in the 30's for several seasons during the time the show did not parade. The wagon was used as on elephant trapping wagon by Cheerful Garner. It was placed inside the menagerie, and the wonderful trapping and wardrobe man, Freddie Wells, kept the tableau as near immaculate as is possible with a circus. The wagon really fitted in good and looked like a circus sitting at the end of the elephant line. The wagon was there in 1935 and 1937 and the fact that it was kept inside the menagerie tent may be the reason why it shows up in very few photos of the show those years.
AL G. Barnes elephant tableau
FLINT said... The Barnes body was a bit wider than the Sells-Floto elephant tab 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.

FLINT said...Wade, 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.
Bob Cline said....'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.' 

John Goodall said....The elephant carvings from the Al G. Barnes wagon were on the gates of Jungleland and Louis Goebel, owner of Jungleland, donated them to Circus World. The wagon shop built the wagon mentioned by Steve Flint.
Here is a photo from the 1950's of the elephants from Al G. Barnes Elephant Tab fronting the entrance to World Jungle Compound. They were donated to Circus World by Louis Goebel

Courtesy of John Goodall   

It is hard to explain the immense pleasure and feeling of pride that I get when I am afforded the honor of sitting down at the jackpot table with great circus historians like Flint, Bobby Cline, John Goodall, and others and coming up with another piece of a puzzle.  Will I grandstand some day with my grandchildren and say, "look, look.  That's my name right beside Steve, Bobby, John etc. etc."  You bet I will.                                                                                                                       

1 comment:

Bob Cline said...

The answer to this question -

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?

is that it exists at the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.