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 1904 


This postcard, depicting eleven of the Indians on the 1904 tour, is based on a photograph taken at Landís End, Cornwall, on Thursday, 29th May 1904. The man sitting, at the extreme right of the group, is Philip Blue Shield and to his immediate right, in the long trailer war bonnet, also sitting, is Chief Iron Tail; these two were photographed at John OíGroats, Scotland, on 3rd September. The man in the centre of the back row, in the greenish-blue shirt and war bonnet, is Sam Lone Bear. The Indian in the cowboy gear is probably the interpreter.

The performers for the 1904 tour of Great Britain sailed in two separate parties, presumably because of the difficulties created by the fatal train crash at Maywood, Illinois, on Thursday, 7th April 1904, and the consequent need to enlist replacement Lakota performers. The first left New York on board the Lucania at four on the morning of Sunday, 10th, arriving at Liverpool on Saturday, 16th April 1904. The Sphere, 23rd April 1904, reported on the arrival; an illustration of John M. Burke welcoming Colonel Cody and his performers is reproduced by Alan Gallop in Buffalo Billís British Wild West (p. 236). The Umbria followed, departing New York, also on the 16th, arriving at Liverpool on Sunday, 24th.

In addition to systematically misrepresenting the tribal affiliations of its Indians, Buffalo Billís publicity machine consistently inflated their number in advertisements and press statements, the usual figure advanced being one hundred. The reality, however, was somewhat less impressive. The grand total of Indians entered on the two passenger lists on this occasion was sixty-five.

The 1904 tour added twenty-nine Scottish venues to those in England and Wales. It was essentially a continuation of its 1903 counterpart, although on this occasion without anything comparable to the extended Olympia, London, stand with which the previous season had begun. Over two campaigns, therefore, almost every city and town of any size or significance received a visit. Once again, the vast majority of these were for one day only, with two performances, one in the afternoon and and one in the evening.

Certain English regions, notably Cornwall and the North-East, welcomed Buffalo Bill for the first and only time.

Twenty-three items graced the 1904 programme and amongst the new groups of performers was a detachment of Imperial Japanese Cavalry.

A further innovation was the intrepid Carter the Cowboy Cyclistís sensational leap through space, acclaimed as an absolute highlight wherever the show appeared. He would ride his bike at speed down a steep ramp, make a leap through space and then ride down the incline on the other side to safety. Well, nine times out of ten anyway!

This early instance of powered flight was a short-lived feature of the show. The likely reason why it was not long retained is that the stunt was every bit as dangerous as it looked and injuries to the cyclist (of whom there were very probably more than one) were a frequent occurrence, even within the context of a spectacular in which serious injury and even death posed a constant threat.

Carter the Cowboy Cyclist


ĎThe Battle of the Little Big Horn or ďCusterís Last StandĒí made a most welcome return, replacing the Battle of San Juan Hill as battle spectacular.

This postcard, featuring three mounted cowboys with tipis in the background, was issued in France for the 1905 season. The photograph on which it is based probably dates to 1904. The location, unfortunately, remains to be identified.


A group of Indians preparing to enter the arena. This postcard appears to have been published in 1906; the presence of Chief Iron Tail (far right) suggests that the photograph was taken no earlier than 1904.

As on past occasions, a number of Indians straggled home in mid-season, mostly suffering from ailments and injuries of one sort or another. The fifty-one Lakota remaining at seasonís end were among those performers who sailed on board the Campania from Liverpool, on 22nd October, arriving at New York on the 28th.

Dates & Venues, 1904

Official Programme, 1904

Scottish Venues, 1904


Buffalo Billís Wild West in Great Britain