Project Description

Center Statue Tableau

(1915 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 38 – photo # 68A – Center Statue Tab – Marian W. Organ photo)

(1) The tableau wagon shown in these photos has been commonly called, by wagon historians for identification purposes, the Sparks Center Statue Tableau. It is believed to have originated on the John H. Sparks Shows about 1911 and was one of the first tab wagons put into use by that show as it grew into a 10 car, flat car type, circus. The earliest dated photo I have seen of it is 1914, the one shown here. A good guess as to the builder would be Sullivan & Eagle as that firm did build some wagons for Sparks during that period, however, I have no definite information as to who actually built it nor the date of construction. It is assumed the wagon was used continuously by Sparks through the 1921 season, and all photos of it in parade show it to be used as a tableau wagon rather than a bandwagon with various costumed performers riding atop it. Bill Woodcock says when he arrived in Macon winter quarters in early 1922 to go out on the Sparks Circus that season that the tab wagon was not there and he was told that one tableau wagon had been sold earlier in the winter to Andrew Downie. By the process of elimination and accounting for the other tableau wagons the show had, we believe this was the wagon that was sold. This second photo shows the wagon carrying number 65.

(1921 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 38 – photo # 68C – Center Statue tab – Lee Melvin collection)

However, the wagon does not show in any photos of Downie’s Walter L. Main Circus in the period 1922-24 so speculation is that perhaps it was sold to another show or that Downie disposed of it some way. In any event, it left Sparks in the winter of 1921-22 and so far has not turned up in photos of any other show after that.

(1) Excerpts from the Circus Wagon History File, Bandwagon, Vol. 6, No. 5 (Sep-Oct), 1962, pp. 14-15

By Joseph Bradbury