Spalding, Gilbert R.

Spalding, Gilbert R., 1811?–1880, American showman, b. Albany co., N.Y. Known as “Doc” because he owned a drug and paint store in the early 1840s, he acquired a circus in the mid-1840s and in 1848 formed a partnership with the English circus rider Charles J. Rogers. The Spalding and Rogers circuses are credited with many innovations, including the first circus use of tent quarter poles (erected between the center and side poles), the pipe organ, and knockdown seats as well as using the railroads to move an entire circus. The Floating Palace, which toured (1850s) the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, was one of the most elaborate showboats, with a regulation circus ring. His name is sometimes spelled Spaulding.

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