Project Description

Cupid and Horn Calliope

The Cupid and Horn Calliope was a steam calliope vehicle constructed in 1920 by Joe Ore of Newark, New Jersey for the Macon, Georgia based, Sparks Circus.

(1921- Don Smith Photo in the Conover Photographic collection)

This calliope was utilized on the Sparks Circus from 1921 through 1928 while still being owned by Clifton and Charlie Sparks. It was numbered # 50 in 1928. (1) On November 22,1928, they sold the show to H.B. Gentry, who in turn, sold it to the Peru, Indiana based American Circus Corporation. Even though the ownership had changed, the calliope still remained on the show for the 1929 season.

(1922 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 38, photo # 56D – Professional Postcard)

Very little changed on this calliope over the years. The most notable change was the complete removal of the mudboard. The outside attached sunburst designs were also painted a multitude of colors rather than the one color as originally built. (2) John Ringling bought the American Circus Corporation on September 6, 1929. After a most successful season, the show returned to the Macon, Georgia winter quarters one more time. To start re-couping his losses, the Sparks Circus winter quarters was closed in Macon, Georgia following the 1930 season and the entire show was brought into the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus winter quarters in Sarasota, Florida. While the show went out for the final season of 1931, this wagon was never used again.

It is of great interest to historians to note that a complete inventory of the show was attached to a letter by Sam Gumpertz to Frank Pender dated March 10, 1932 in the Ringling files at Circus World’s Bob Parkinson Research Library in Baraboo, Wisconsin. That inventory did not include this wagon as part of the show.

It remained in the Sarasota winter quarters until 1938. At that time, many of the Sparks wagons were burned including this one.

(1) Excerpt from Sparks Circus, season of 1929 by Joseph Bradbury: Bandwagon, May-June 1984, page 5

(2) Excerpt from Sparks Circus, season of 1929 by Joseph Bradbury:Bandwagon, May-June 1984, page 16