Project Description

Forepaugh-Sells Cage # 49

In 1894, the Adam Forepaugh Circus was co-owned by James A. Bailey, Joseph T. McCaddon and James P. Anderson. The show did not go out in 1895.  In 1895, the Sells Bros. Circus was owned jointly by Ephriam Sells, Lewis Sells and Peter Sells. In the winter of 1895 / 1896, an agreement was reached to combine these two well known show titles with a joint ownership of James A. Bailey, Ephriam, Peter and Lewis Sells. The newly formed show was entitled,
the Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Circus.

The ownership would change a couple times in the next 15 years but the show title would remain the same. From 1898 to 1904, the show was owned jointly by James A. Bailey, Lewis and Peter Sells and W.W. Cole. In 1905, the Ringling Bros. bought out the partners except for James A. Bailey. With James A. Bailey’s death on April 11, 1906, the Ringlings had joint ownership with Mr. James A. Bailey. Finally in late 1907, the Ringling Bros. bought out Mrs. James A. Bailey’s complete holdings. This gave the Ringling Bros. complete control of the Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Circus as well as Barnum & Bailey’s Circus.

(1) The Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Circus Tableau Cage was part of an order for twelve new cages in 1896 when the Adam Forepaugh title was joined with the Sells Bros. title. As a Tableau cage, the wagon only had bars to view the animals contained therein on one side wile the other side was a solid unit and well decorated. Only a handful of photographs have ever been found to help document the history of this wagon over the years. This amazing group photo of cages was taken in 1904.

(1904 – Richard Conover collection)

This Tableau / Cage wagon remained on the Adam Forepaugh and Sells Bros. Circus through the 1907 season. A decision had been made to take the show off of the road by the Ringling Bros. who owned the show. Approximately twelve to fourteen of the Forepaugh-Sells cages were sent back to Baraboo while the remainder were moved over to the Bridgeport winter quarters of the Barnum & Bailey Circus. No evidence has been found to indicate that this wagon ever left the Baraboo winter quarters in 1908 or 1909. When the Ringlings decided to resurrect the Adam Forepaugh and Sells-Bros. title again in 1910, this cage went out with it and stayed there for the 1911 season as well. Following the 1911 season, the show was shelved and became surplus property.

(1913 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 23, photo # 36B – Rice Bros. Colossal Railroad Shows)

On February 25, 1913, J.H. Garrett bought this cage, another cage, the St. George and the Dragon pony float and two tableaus from the Ringling surplus for $ 385.00 while framing his Rice Bros. Circus. The show didn’t last long having opened and closed in 1913. W.E. Franklin bought the show equipment. In 1915, he decided to get rid of it and sold most of it to C.A. Wortham, the carnival owner. A Wortham unit used this cage from 1915 to 1917 before selling it to the Mugivan and Bowers interests.

They placed this wagon on their Howe’s Great London Shows where it remained from 1917  though the 1922 season. At some point in time that is unclear, the wagon became a tableau only and the cage use was no longer. For the 1923 and 1924 season, this wagon was found on the John Robinson Circus where it was used as the clown Bandwagon. The show was wintering in Peru. At the close of the 1924 season, the John Robinson Circus went to the West Baden winter quarters and the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus switched places by going into the Peru winter quarters.

(1922 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 9, photo # 83A – circa 1922 – P.M. McClintock collection)

One photo exists that was taken in 1925 in the West Baden winter quarters that shows this wagon in deplorable condition. We then assume it was decimated by the elements over the years, never to be seen again.

(1925 – seen falling apart at the West Baden, IN. winter quarters – P.M. McClintock photo)

(1) Excerpts from the Grand parade of the 1910 and 1911 Forepaugh-Sells Circus, Bandwagon, May-June 1968, pp. 16-19.