Barlow Circus Wagon Set
George H. Barlow, Binghamton, NY
Date: late 1920s – early 1950s and on
The above object consists of a toy wagon with illustrated face of Tom Mix and “Circus & Wild West” emblazoned on the side. The wagon is drawn by two miniature brown horses. This set is made of 65 pieces in total.
George H. Barlow III was the grandson of cigar and real estate czar George H. Barlow, Sr. The first George H. Barlow lived on Front St (the same street as Roberson!) and by the late 19th century owned the largest cigar factory in America.
George H. Barlow III worked in his family’s trade of real estate. However, in a 1953 profile of the amateur toymaker, Barlow spoke of his pastime of making miniatures, which originated from his boyhood interest in circuses. Barlow began to build miniatures to scale in 1926 out of materials like wood, steel, aluminum, canvas and rope, and painted them to look like exact replicas of circus equipment. Barlow found a market for circus miniatures and began to sell some of his creations. Within 10 years of picking up his hobby, Barlow had created a circus comprising nearly 100,000 parts, hundreds of animals and a big top.
Barlow is said to in his time have one of the largest and most magnificent collection of circus equipment and memorabilia.
It’s no wonder that Barlow decided to affix the face of Tom Mix (1880-1940) on the side of this toy wagon; millions of American children grew up watching his films on Saturday afternoons. He was Hollywood’s first Western megastar and the “king of cowboys,” and is said to have helped define the genre for all cowboy actors (like Ronald Reagan and John Wayne) who followed. Tom Mix went on to make more than 160 cowboy films throughout the 1920s and 291 films total during his 26-year film career. He was also a circus performer.