ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Nostalgia Of Carousels

Updated on February 25, 2010

Remember the scene in Mary Poppins when Mary and Bert embarked on a no-holds-barred merry-go-round romp? Therein lies the allure of these old-fashioned wooden menageries made up of fanciful horses, cats and ostriches. Intricately carved, delicately bejeweled and painstakingly painted, the "standers" and "jumpers" take us up, up and away, to a simpler time and place. You get to be a kid again. No one is in a bad mood on a carousel. And that includes the hesitant riders who opt for the stationary swan or cushioned chariot.

Carousels first appeared in medieval Europe, where simple center poles held whirling basket seats. Horses were added to simulate cavalry training. Production of so-called "antique" carousels began in the late 1880s and flourished until 1930. This period is considered the Golden Age of carousel production. Famous carvers and designers include Marcus Illions, Gustav Dentzel and Charles Looff and companies such as Philadelphia Toboggan and Hershell-Spillman. Each had their own particular style and technique.  Unfortunately, after the Great Depression, many carousels were abandoned, destroyed or dismantled. Today, about 200 carousels exist in North America.

Carousel enthusiasts travel the country to inspect and relish these works of art. Carousels these days are often lost in two ways: by fire or by auction. Sometimes carousels are auctioned off piece by piece. Then those prices are added together, along with a buyer's premium, and the carousel is sold as a unit. The cost? More than $1 million. And there's no guarantee that the carousel will remain intact once it's sold.

In fact, an authentic 1909 Illions giraffe can command upwards of $30,000; a Looff stander $50,000. (But don't worry, a Gustave Bayol jumping French pig, circa 1900, goes for a mere $7,000.) These high-end prices make it difficult for communities to keep their vintage carousels alive.

A spectacular restoration exists in Chattanooga, TN, where students of the legendary Horsin' Around carving school spent 10 years meticulously re-creating a 1895 Dentzel "menagerie" carousel, now situated in Coolidge Park along Chattanooga's riverfront. They had to rebuild the machine, a double-floor step-up. All the animals were carved, since the originals were long-gone. It was quite a project by lots of dedicated people.

In Soddy-Daisey, TN, headquarters of Horsin' Around, artists can create their own masterpieces. The teachers provide the rough model and teach students how to hand-carve with chisels and mallets. Another notable carving school is Carousel Magic!, where craftsmen and women can attend a five-day workshop through the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, OH. Along with the Merry-Go-Round Museum, the vintage whirligigs are admired at the Hershell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda, NY, the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, CT, and the International Museum of Carousel Art in Hood River, OR.

Although the animals are certainly the primary focus of most carousels, there's a burgeoning interest in the original canopy buildings, the elaborately painted scenic panels, the neoclassical castings and the booming Wurtlizer band organs that, long ago, made sure everybody knew the carousel was twirling. And don't forget the group of carousel miniaturists who are dedicated to reproducing that lucky lead horse or jaunty giraffe.

Go ahead. Grab the brass ring... and enjoy the ride!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)