Barnum & London’s Cinderella Pony Float
(1) The Cinderella Float was built in the 1886 to 1888 period for the Barnum & London Circus along with Bluebeard, Sinbad the Sailor, Mother Goose, and Red Riding Hood. While the name of the show changed to Barnum & Bailey, the float remained there. The Cinderella Float was taken on the 1898 to 1902 European tour and was photographed in 1903 in the Bridgeport winter quarters as seen below.
( 1903 – Conover Set # 703 – photo # BB15 )
In 1912, photographs of the Ringling Parade show the Shoe and Cinderella; and it is probable that these two and perhaps Mother Goose and Santa Claus were with this show off and on through 1918. In any event, these four had to end up with the show property stored in Bridgeport rather than with that left in Baraboo after Ringling-Barnum discontinued the parade.
There they remained until 1927 when they were purchased by Fred Buchanan, together with several other wagons, including the Twin Hemisphere Bandwagon, the Barnum & Bailey calliope with the big horn and clown carvings, the Barnum & Bailey hippo den, for his Robbins Brothers Circus, The winterquarters for this show was in Granger, Iowa. After the purchase, the Robbins Show was on 30 cars through midseason 1930. About this time, the depression was beginning to make itself felt, and ten cars were cut off and returned to Granger; and it is probable that the four floats were included. The show, being mortgaged to William P. Hall, was brought onto the Hall Farm of Lancaster, Missouri, at the end of the season. In 1931, it limped the season on 15 cars and returned to Lancaster. This left the four floats in Granger until a Christmas parade unit was formed sometime between 1930 and 1932, the tour of this unit terminating in Lancaster. However, Santa Claus was not with this promotion and was left in Granger where it rotted away. The Shoe, Cinderella, and Goose remained at the Hall Farm until the fall of 1935 when Jess Adkins, one of the owners of the Cole Brothers Circus that had just completed its first season, bought them with several carloads of former Robbins property. They were on the Cole Show in 1936 and for most of the subsequent years through 1950.
(1936 – Conover Set # 94 – photo # 10 – Wm. Koford photo – Please note how the wagon base has been cut down forcing the wheels to be closer to each other. The back of Cinderella’s chair has been cut off also. )
When Cole Brothers Circus was in financial trouble following the disasterous 1938 season, the late Terrell Jacobs acquired the Cinderella Float. He refitted it with 1930 vintage spoked automobile wheels that carried small high pressure tires. With the spokes decked out with sunbursts, the float’s appearance was not as drastically affected as the two that remained with the Cole Show. Jacobs retained Cinderella through several of his financial crises, but in recent years it has become “lost,” perhaps being hidden by someone who is fearful that others may have a prior legal claim on it. Let’s hope that it re-appears within a decent interval after the statute of limitations expires.
( 1951 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 14 – photo # 23C – Terrell Jacobs Circus on the Strates Shows on August 20, 1951 in Hamburg, NY )
Having been found in a field near St. Louis, the rotting relic was picked up by Guy Mullen who eventually gave it to the Circus World Museum.
( 2012 – now covered in Gold Leaf – Bob Cline photo )
The wagon can be seen in person at Circus World in Baraboo, Wisconsin
(1) Excerpts from “Those Diminutive Tableaus, the Allegorical Pony-Drawn Parade Floats” -Bandwagon: Vol. 4, No. 5 (Sep-Oct), 1960, pp. 3-9
(2) “Horse Drawn Wagon Collection” by Chappie Fox on page 97.
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