Al G. Barnes Three Section Carvings Tableau
by Joseph Bradbury
The Al G. Barnes Tableau No. 180, featured carvings of animals, trees, and natives in a jungle motif. The first photo was taken in Olympia at the same time as the first one. This wagon was used as the elephant trappings wagon and in parade was used as a bandwagon or tableau, but in this particular shot the photographer seems to have cut off the top portion of the wagon so we don’t know whether a band or just costumed performers are riding it. This wagon was one of three that was built during the winter of 1920-21 at the Barnes quarters by Louis Berg. The other two were the Cornelia Tableau, photo No. 3, and the Barnes Elephant Tableau (see this column Dec. 1957 issue). Louis Berg and his brother formerly operated the Berg Bros. Tent & Awning Co. in Spokane, Wash. and Berg, being a tent maker, made many of the Barnes tents in a barn loft at the show’s quarters in Culver City, California.
( 1921 – taken in Olympia, Washington – P.M. mcClintock collection )
A car load of carvings was received from the Bode Wagon Works of Cincinnati, and these carvings were used to decorate the wagons Berg built in quarters. It is said that these carvings were excess that Bode had originally made to be used on the set of U. S. Motorized tableaux. The last circus wagons Bode built were for Frank Spellman’s, U. S. Motorized Circus which went on the road for a few days in 1919, and they were cleaning out the remaining carvings etc. left over from this large order of very beautiful tableau bodies which were mounted on motor truck chassis.
( 1924 – Joseph Bradbury Album # 36 – photo # 97A – assembling the Al G. Barnes parade in 1924 – Walker Morris photo )
It is assumed this No. 180 tableau was used on the Barnes show from the 1921 season on through 1924, and then no doubt it was later dismantled. No trace of the wagon or carvings has ever come to light.
(1) Excerpts from the Circus Wagon History Files, Bandwagon, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Jul-Aug), 1959, pp. 3-4.
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