Project Description

Barnum, Bailey and Hutchison Tableau Den

From Richard Conover’s Book, “The Fielding Band Chariots,” on page 53, the New York Clipper, on December 2, 1882 reported that Fielding has five tableau / dens under construction for Barnum, Bailey and Hutchison. ( we do not know which ones were built first. )

A second reference is found in The Truth ( New York ) in its February 24, 1883 issue under “Scenes from Winter Quarters” where it states “ This year none of the old cages will be used for animals but will serve for the baggage. The new wagons are as handsome as ordinary chariots with all of the necessary scroll work, mythological figures in gold and shining paint.”

The last reference is a generalized article on “Wood Carving” which appeared in the 6 January 1883 issue of Harpers Weekly. In this article, the shop which made the carvings for this lot of cages is identified. Collectively, these three articles affix 1883 as the year for the introduction of at least a part of this group of twelve. It is to be regretted that there are no good pictures of some of them. There was, however, sufficient photographic evidence to fix the number at twelve even before the picture appeared on my horizon of all of them lined up in the menagerie top.

Cage No. 84. This is the so-called Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson cage, because that title still appears on the small medallion on the lower side panel. Christy moved this one to his South Houston quarters but never used it on his show, which is probably why the title on the medallion was never removed. (1) The cage was sold to George Christy of S. Houston, Texas for his Christy Bros. Circus in 1927.

(1947 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 15 – photo # 6A – July 1947 at Christy WQ in Houston, TX – old Barnum and Bailey and Hutchison Tableau cage – Perry Luth photo)

It sat around the South Houston quarters until 1959 when Christy gave it to the Circus World Museum, where it became the first of the many excellent restoration projects that the Museum has accomplished. Sometime after 1950, while it was still in South Houston, two of the corner figures were removed and found their way to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont; so two of the figures now on it are copies. Otherwise, it is the only one of the original twelve that is virtually intact.( page 59 )

(Circus World Museum Postcard)

The wagon can be seen in person at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin

(1) Richard Conover’s Book, “The Fielding Band Chariots,” on page 59