Project Description

Two Statue Tableau

It is believed to have originated on the John H. Sparks Shows about the same time as did the other tab and Sullivan & Eagle could have been the builder but here again the exact date it was built and the builder’s name are not known. This wagon was highly carved and for some years was used as the No. 1 bandwagon. It was probably on the Sparks show from about 1911 although 1913 is actually the earliest dated photo I have seen of it. It was used through the 1921 season. In the early 20’s Sparks started replacing many of his older tableau and baggage wagons and eliminated his cross cages in favor of newer and larger dens. Bill Woodcock says that this particular tableau did not go out in 1922 but was stored at Macon quarters. The 1922 Sparks train was a beauty having 6 new Mt. Vernon built flats which had been delivered a year earlier, 4 stocks, 4 sleepers, and 1 advance for a total of 15 cars. The flats were painted yellow while the stocks and sleepers were yellow and red. In 1923 the show enlarged to 20 cars but I have no information as to whether the tab went out that year or still remained in quarters. The same is true for 1924.

(1922 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 38 – photo # 24A)

In the winter of 1924-25 this tableau, plus another Sparks tab, the one with the Sea Serpent carvings (see Circus Wagon History File, Jan.-Feb., 1961, Bandwagon) were sold to Floyd and Howard King. In 1925 the Two Statue Tableau went on the King’s new flat car show titled Walter L. Main Circus and remained there for the 1926 and 1927 seasons. In 1928 and 1929 the show was called Gentry Bros. Circus. It was on the Gentry show when it folded at Paris, Tenn., Oct. 25, 1929. At a receivers sale all of the wagons went to the Donaldson Lithographing Co. and were stored at the old winter quarters in West Baden, Ind. During the winter of 1929-30 the property was sold off piecemeal until the company finally advertised on March 15, 1930, that only 18 large baggage wagons remained.

(1928-1929 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 6 – photo # 44A – Gentry Bros. Circus (old Sparks Two Statue Tab))

Just what happened to this particular tab wagon plus some of the other Gentry tabs has long been a mystery to me. Some bandwagons and tabs were reportedly sold to the Otis L. Smith Carnival which advertised it would put on a large circus style street parade in 1930. It seems the Smith Carnival folded or was sold to other parties after 1930 as no further mention of it is made in the Billboard. No positive information though has turned up on this tab and some of the others after they reached West Baden. Now, there is a key to the mystery of the Gentry tableau wagons which perhaps someone may unlock. In 1943 when the little V & H Circus Parade wagons were built at Harrison, Ohio, some carvings off another 1929 Gentry Bros, tableau wagon appeared on some of these wagons. These particular carvings were off an old Ringling Bros, tableau-den and to this date the V & H Bandwagon which was last used by King Bros, in 1956 has some bird carvings off of this old wagon. I have without success for many years tried to find out definitely from what source came these V & H carvings. Surely they had to come off this old Gentry tableau wagon. To know its location perhaps would give us the key to knowing exactly what happened to the Two Statue tableau and other Gentry wagons. It is said by some that the late Terrell Jacobs had picked up the carvings from some source and furnished them to be placed on the V & H parade wagons when they were built, hence his later interest in them. However, no one seemed to know where Terrell got the carvings. If some of our older readers or anyone can inform us just where these carvings came from please let us know so the information can be printed for the benefit of all. Surely the mystery of the missing Gentry 1929 wagons must have baffled serious wagon historians for many years.

(1) Bandwagon, Vol. 6, No. 5 (Sep-Oct), 1962, pp. 14-15

By Joseph Bradbury