NYC auction to trot out carousel horses
Posted: Thursday, September 9, 2010 8:01 pm
NEW YORK (AP) — Intricately hand-carved carousel horses, tigers and bears and exquisitely rendered circus posters evoking a bygone era of the fairground as a Disney-esque attraction are going on the auction block.
Sixty antique circus posters and 50 carousel horses and other menagerie figures from the early 1900s are being sold Sept. 25 at Guernsey’s auction house in New York.
Among the carousel figures — consigned by different collectors — is a life-size tiger created by the Dentzel carving studio.
It is the property of a woman who acquired it when she was 4 years old when she and her mother came upon two firefighters burning a carousel from the defunct Kiddy City Amusement Park in Queens, which closed in 1964.
The firefighters told her to pick a figure she liked, and as they carried it to the car, her mother tipped them $20, said Guernsey’s owner Arlan Ettinger.
The restored cat, painted in realistic tiger colors with an elaborate saddle and fringe, is estimated to sell for $60,000 to $70,000.
At one time, there were 6,000 carousels averaging 40-45 figures each, dotting carnivals around the country. “It was a very popular pastime,” said Ettinger. “You would have been able to choose from multiple carousels” at a fairground, each competing against the other to attract riders.
By 1983, when Guernsey’s conducted its first carousel auction, the number of antique carousels had dwindled to about 150. Today, that number is fewer than 100, Ettinger said.
“The vast majority were intentionally destroyed to make way for newer, challenging rides,” he said.
Also for sale are a chariot and five figures from a carousel that stood in Dorney Park when the Allentown, Pa., amusement park opened in 1901. It belonged to a descendant of the Plarr family that owned and operated the park for eight decades after acquiring it from the original owner.
Published in The Messenger 9.9.10