Carousel Support and Information: National Carousel Association

Major Carousel Builders and Carvers (Page 3 of 3)

An Introduction by Brian Morgan


The North Tonawanda companies were prolific carousel carvers in the Country Fair style. Their horses are relatively simple, easy to move, and spread widely throughout the country. Most carousels away from the Eastern Coastal resorts were either North Tonawanda or Parker. A museum dedicated to these carousels is in an old Herschell carousel factory in North Tonawanda, New York.


Image: 1892 Armitage Herschell
1892 Armitage Herschell on track machine, St. Louis, MO.

Allan Herschell and James Armitage operated from about 1892 through 1902, carving a great number of portable carousels of a fairly simple style. Their steam riding galleries still exist at Willowbrook Village in Maine and in Greenville, Mississippi.


Image: 1910 Herschell/Spillman
1910 Herschell/Spillman,
Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

The financial problems of the Armitage Herschell Company caused Herschell to leave and form a new company in 1900 with his Spillman in-laws. This factory started by carving and creating carousels in the old style and also created some large park machines, generally elaborate menagerie carousels. The Herschell Spillman factory created 18 separate menagerie animals, most of which were on each of the larger carousels. Herschell Spillman menageries can be found all across the country, including Ocean City, Maryland, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, and Greenfield Village near Detroit, Michigan.


Image: 1928 Spillman Engineering
1928 Spillman Engineering, Van Andel Museum
Grand Rapids, MI.

In the early 1920s Herschell Spillman changed its name to Spillman but continued with a similar style of carving. Later Spillman machines were mostly all horses, although some menagerie carousels were made. The large Spillman carousel which still operates in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, was said to be the inspiration for Disneyland and the Disneyland carousel. Other Spillman carousels are at Shelby, North Carolina, and the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York.


Image: 1924 Allan Herschell
1924 Allan Herschell, Chavis Park, Raleigh, N.C.

In 1913 Herschell left the Herschell Spillman Company and formed his own competing company.Herschell created mostly portable machines with rigid poses on his horses which enabled them to be packed up and moved to the next town efficiently and with minimal damage. His most recognized carving is the "Trojan", a large-headed cropped mane horse. Six Herschell carousels can be seen in and around Binghamton, New York, all donated to the communities by the local shoe magnate Johnson family. Another is at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


Image: 1901 Parker Track Machine
1901 Parker Track Machine, Heritage Center, Abilene, KS

Charles W. Parker's earlier carousels were copied from the North Tonawanda style but he is now recognized more for the elongated, decorated horses of his later style. Parker's earlier carousels were carved in Abilene, Kansas, and he later moved to Leavenworth, Kansas. Although most of Parker's carousels were small and portable he also carved a number of large three and four row park machines. The C. W. Parker Museum in Leavenworth opened in April, 2005. Parker carousels were prolific in Kansas and the heartland and also in the western states. Two of his larger machines are in Portland, Oregon, and Burnaby, (Vancouver) Canada; there are two very nice portables in Waterloo, WI and Leavenworth, KS.

Image: 1906 Parker
Parker, Enchanted Village, Federal Way, WA
Image: 1912 Parker
1912 Parker, Crossroads Village, Flint, MI

Image: 1917 Parker White Rose
1906 Parker White Rose Jumper -- 1917 Burnaby, BC Canada


Image: 1890 US MGR Co.
1890 US MGR Co., Albion, PA


This company had its factory in Cincinnati, Ohio. Two simple carousels still operate at Albion, Pennsylvania, and at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. (rare weekends).

Image: 1876 Dare
1876 Dare, Marthas Vineyard, Oaks Bluff, MA


Dare was primarily a toy manufacturer who also carved rocking horses. He was one of the early carousel manufacturers in America, carving very simple carousels with marbles for eyes. His two remaining carousels can be ridden at Watch Hill, Rhode Island and Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.


Well-known carvers whose names you may encounter include Salvatore Cernigliaro (Cherni) who carved for Dentzel and PTC, John Zalar who carved for both Looff and PTC, and Frank Carretta, a skilled carver for PTC.

Image: 1920 Zalar PTC # 50

Zalar carving on PTC #50,circa 1920, Hampton, VA.

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All photographs in this article courtesy of
Jerry and Marilyn Reinhardt

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