Project Description

India Bandwagon

(1) Bill Woodcock forwarded to me for my perusal a copy of a letter dated Dec. 19, 1905 from C. Lee Williams to Frank R. Tate, both being part owners of the Carl Hagenbeck along with John H. Havlin and Lorenz Hagenbeck, in which both the Elephant Tableau and another tableau wagon (which is one of the two we are discussing in this column) are quite well documented. A portion of the letter which is quite lengthy and detailed is extracted as follows:

Bode was just in and submitted the two sketches of the India Tableau wagons which I think are very pretty and will make two very swell wagons and in which we will have a world of room for the costumes of the show, as these wagons are to be 16 feet clear on the inside. The one wagon with the elephant on it is to be all carving, while the other one is to be carving where I have marked and moulding where I have marked, and painting where I have marked, and two panels of pictures of the tiger and the men and the zebu wagon are to be done in fancy painting. The wagons are to be the same as all other stuff, first class in every way. Bode brought his figures down on these wagons and the way he has it marked out, the carved wagon will cost him to build it and turn it out in first class manner is $1650.00 and the other wagon will cost him over $1100. I told him our limit was $2500 on the two and he said, well, if you want these wagons, the very best I can do is $3000 for the two, otherwise I will have to pass them up for I am surely entitled to some profit on them. The wagons will cost me to build not a cent less than $2700 as these have to be made extra in the bodies to carry the weight that will be in them as the costumes run into weight when you get a lot of them as you will have, and they will all have to go in boxes and these boxes weigh also. I told him that I would send them to you and you could decide as to how you felt on the matter of the price of them and advise me on the return of the sketches. Please do, Frank, as soon as you get them so John can see them and he can get the work in the shop, for he only takes the work on this condition as he has his shop filled with work up to June.”

(1910 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 45 – photo # 8D – HW – Professional Postcard – Melvin collection)

The Bandwagon shown in our first photo according to the letter was called the India Tableau and was used to carry the shows wardrobe. In the winter of 1906-07 the Hagenbeck show was purchased by B. E. Wallace, owner of the Great Wallace Shows, and in 1907 he put on the road the combined Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. This “India” wagon was used as a bandwagon for many years. Just how long it remained on the Hagenbeck-Wallace show I can’t say for sure. The last positive date I have for it is the 1916 season. It is shown on the lot that year in Ralph Miller’s fine set of photos he took in 1916. I have another photo showing the wagon with a band riding it and the unverified date is 1917 or 18, but I have no evidence one way or the other to substantiate this. My guess is that the wagon lasted until about 1920 and although it possibly may have been on the show longer it does not appear in the many photos I have seen of Hagenbeck-Wallace parade vehicles in the early 1920’s. Just what finally happened to the wagon I am unable to say. I feel certain it never was sent to any other show and most probably was either dismantled or rebuilt into an unrecognizable baggage wagon.

(1915-1917 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 45 – photo # 50B -W. Hope Tilley photo)

(1) Excerpts from the Circus Wagon History File, Bandwagon, March – April 1958, page 5-6

By Joseph Bradbury