Welcome to Carousels. Art of the Carousel
The fanciful carousel has charmed people of all ages and of all lands, but it reached its most outstanding success and beauty through the talent and creativity of American craftsmen. In the late nineteenth century, during an energetic period of cultural self-discovery, American artists, architects and sculptors broke from European tradition to seek their own direction and freedom of expression. This artistic Renaissance resulted in carousel sculptures of such quality and originality that, today, they are an important and respected American art form. Take a whirl on a carousel. Observe, appreciate, and treasure the unique magic and artistic splendor of this wondrous ride.
A carousel is sometimes called a merry-go-round. Is an amusement ride. And has a rotating circular platform with seats for riders. The seats are traditionally in the form of rows of wooden horses or other animals mounted on posts, many of which are moved up and down by gears to simulate galloping, to the accompaniment of looped circus music. The golden age of the carousel in America was the early 20th century, with large machines and elaborate animals, chariots, and decorations being built.
Carousels In America
The story of the carousel, or merry-go-round, in America traces back to the mid-19th century when Gustav Dentzel, a German immigrant, opened the G.A. Dentzel Steam and Horsepower Carousel Company. During this time, carousels were considered the premier amusement ride. While more than 7,000 carousels were once created, fewer than 300 are still in use that were built in American factories. The Depression, fires, floods and neglect caused the deterioration of the magnificent machines.
The golden age of the carousel
The golden age of the carousel lasted twenty five years. It originated in Europe, but America is where its highest achievement of craftsmanship developed. Carved and created by immigrant craftsmen at their highest level. California and New York have most of all existing carousels in America. The only two that exist in Tennessee that I know of are:
1909 Dentzel Grand Carousel at Libertyland Park, Memphis
Built in 1909 by William H. Dentzel of the famed Dentzel Carousel Company, the Grand Carousel is a beautifully restored, hand-carved wooden horses that move within an elaborately decorated frame. The ride is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
1920 Dentzel Carousel at Dollywood Park, Pigeon Forge
History Of The Old Carousel3>
Original carousels featured brass poles and fixtures, antique-style incandescent lighting and beveled-glass mirrors. Band organ music completed the circle of nostalgia. There are only two American manufacturers still producing this popular family attraction for circuses, carnivals, and fairs. Allen Herschell, who sold his firm in 1950 to a maker of fiberglass horses, was the last wooden-horse carver in the U.S. Now days authentic wooden carousel horses cost anywhere from $200 to $27,000, depending upon their age and condition.
What began in the 12th century as Arab horsemen throwing scented clay balls from rider to rider in a test of skill is now one of America's favorite amusement rides. The legend of the carousel has it that those untouched by the perfume of the clay were considered superior riders. Returning Crusaders later introduced the sport, renamed "carrosello" or "little war," to Italy.
On July 21, 1995, the Post Office issued four 32-cent stamps commemorating carousels. First Day of Issue ceremonies were held at the Carousel World Museum in Lahaska, Pennsylvania.
Owes its origin to the 17th-century French, who modified the ancient sport. Using a wheel consisting of wooden arms and suspended horses, young French nobility practiced the game by attempting to lance golden rings. With the foresight of a toy-maker, carousels soon became popular with Parisian children and eventually spread to America. Later, the carved riders gained tremendous popularity and entertained early beach and resort visitors. As steam, and then electricity, were harnessed for energy, carousels began to appear at the end of railway lines. As they flourished, the simple wooden machines developed into elaborate machines that are still being studied and admired today.
Art of the Carousel
Carousel art carving
Created between 1867 and 1930, has long been neglected as an Art Form. Only recently has it come to the attention of students of both Art and History. The best carousels were American, not European. However, the craftsmen were nearly all recent immigrants whose work reflected what coming the American meant to them. European Carousel horses were stiff and stereotyped. American horses were carved in amazing variety with dramatic and free-flowing styles that embodied the essence of the American Spirit.
What is a Carousel and a Merry-Go-Round?
Carousels only have horses, so it should not be confused with a merry-go-round or menagerie carousel, which can be many different animals. The carousel originated in France several hundred years ago as a device to help young noblemen practice their lancing skills. As the wooden horse
Origin of Merry-Go-Rounds and Ferris Wheels
The merry-go-round dates back to the early 18th century. The first merry-go-round was made in Europe, perhaps in France, in the late 1700's or early 1800's. It was called a carrousel, after an elaborate tournament-type entertainment first given at the court of France in the reign of Henry IV. Troops of costumed horsemen engaged in contests, drills, and pageants. The Place du Carrousel, between the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden in Paris, was named for a magnificent carrousel given there by Louis XIV in 1662.
Since only the nobility could enjoy these spectacles, a Parisian toy maker set hobbyhorses on a platform to create a make-believe carrousel. It was crudely made and the platform turned slowly with only manpower or horsepower to move it; but it delighted people from the beginning. Modern merry-go-rounds are whirled by motors; but many of them still carry prancing wooden ponies wearing the fancy harness of tournament mounts.
The first Ferris wheel was 250 feet in diameter and stood 264 feet high, had 36 pendulum cars which carried 60 passengers each (total of 2,160 riders), weighted 1,200 tons and was powered by two 1,000 horsepower engines. It was built for the World's Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, Ill., in 1893.
The Ferris wheel was designed by George Washington Gale Ferris. Ferris contracted the construction of the Ferris wheel to a dozen steel companies, since it was so large that no single steel company could produce it. It was produced at a cost of $350,000 (in 1893) and was so popular that the cost was recovered within a few weeks, at the exposition.
Build Your Own Full Sized Carousel Horse CAROUSEL HORSES
It is easy and inexpensively to build your own carousel horse. Use a child's rocking horse to create your very own
carousel horse, beautifully, inexpensively and very easy using our instructions.
YOU CAN EASILY TURN THIS
INTO THIS BEAUTIFUL CAROUSEL HORSE
Actual Carousel Horse Size 22" Length and 19" in Height and
Use a flat file and file all seams created by the rocking horse manufacturer. Smooth with
sandpaper to remove scratches introduced during this filing process.
Carousels, Carousels In America, The golden age of the carousel, History Of The Old Carousel, Today's carousel, Carousel art carving, carousel horses, carousel horse, collectible carousel horse, make a carousel horse,
Built in 1909 by William H. Dentzel of the famed Dentzel Carousel Company, the Grand Carousel is a beautifully restored, hand-carved wooden horses
that move within an elaborately decorated frame. The ride is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
Liberty land's Gypsy Queen is the National Carousel Association Horse No. 3 available for sale in miniature worldwide. The Memphis Landmarks
Commission and Tennessee Historic Commission honored the Carousel with two awards--one for engineering achievement and the latter for Distinguished Service.
And of course. Having fun on the Carousel
About Carousel & Amusement Park Links
"Carousel animals are a lovely part of our heritage, showing as much vision as many of our most respected sculptures." - David L. Shirey, Art Critic - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Carousels & Merry-Go-Rounds Made with help from: C Murchison of Morning Glow, and Wikipedia, E. Fay Dyer-Austin,
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