Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Antique Circus Wagon Collection in Wisconsin

Circus World is home to the largest collection of intricately carved and beautifully restored circus wagons.
Tour the wagon collection at your own pace or take one of our guided tours inside the two massive climate-controlled buildings.
More than two-thirds of all known circus wagons in the world are housed at Circus World, including the Cinderella Pony Float from the 1880s.
During the golden era of the American circus, workers, equipment, animals and performers traveled on train cars like this one. Here we see a 1920s vintage, chain-driven Mack Truck. It's pulling the Christy Bros. Arena wagon onto an authentic railroad flat car.
Circus wagons were often brightly painted in vibrant hues and decorated with wood carvings, mirrors and gold leaf. This elaborate beauty is a ‘telescoping tableau’, which features retractable sections that can nest into the larger bottom section. It is one of a group of English circus wagons that once belonged to the Sir Robert Fossett circus of England.
Wagons were decorated with exotic detail to mimic the far-away places where many of the performers and animals originated or places to which the circus had traveled. Shown is the "Asia" tableau, part of a series of telescoping tableaus built for the Barnum and Bailey Circus of 1903.
Bandorgans and other mechanical musical instruments provided lively music in the circus parades and for background music when people came to the circus lot. This is the magnificent Royal American Shows Gavioli bandorgan built in Paris, France, in 1903. It is on loan from the Sedlmayr Family.
Harold Burdick has been part of the wagon restoration work at Circus World for the past 34 years. He takes great pride in bringing authentic circus wagons back to life. Here he is explaining the techniques necessary to restore the Mother Goose Pony Float, created for the Barnum and London Circus in the 1880s. Guests can watch the restoration process in our on-site workshop.
Restoration work began on the wagon collection back in the 1960s and continues to this day. Here we see The Cole Bros. "America" Steam Calliope wagon restored and ready to leave the shop while the Al G. Barnes Property Wagon is being prepared for some work.
Intricate detail and craftsmanship are present throughout the impressive collection. Here we see a carved portrayal of Hercules fighting a lion on the side of the #1 John Robinson Bandwagon; on loan to Circus World from Feld Entertainment

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