The John Staluppi Collection
1 December 2012
1918 Herschell-Spillman 32' Carousel
To be auctioned on Saturday, December 1, 2012
Sold for $460,000
The golden age of the carousel in America was the early 20th century, and indeed, many of the finest examples graced amusement parks and fairgrounds. In comparison to the more static European pieces, American carousels of the era featured elaborate animals, chariots, and decorations, which were all handmade by craftsmen who had extraordinary attention to detail.
The Cars of Dreams Museum carousel typifies this remarkable era and blends perfectly into the collection's overall appearance. While surrounded by engineering of the decades to come, the museum's carousel is an excellent centerpiece for the Staluppi Collection and is an outstanding example of the Herschell-Spillman Company's very impressive works.
The Herschell-Spillman Company was founded in North Tonawanda, New York in 1903, which would mark the first union in a series of companies in the community that manufactured carousels and other amusement park rides. They swiftly became the most prolific maker of carousels and specialized in producing transportable machines, which could be used by traveling carnival operators. The company produced over 3,000 hand-carved wooden carousels and out-produced all of its rivals in the carousel industry. Each hand-carved wooden carousel featured striking yet simple horses, many of its most traditional designs are, in fact, exemplified on the carousel offered here from the Staluppi Collection.
It is reported that this carousel was operated at the Big Top Market in Florida on Saturdays and Sundays for 10 years, 12 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. It features two animals abreast with 14 sweeps, and it also includes 16 large-sized, all wood, antique Alan Herschell jumping horses, circa 1920. There are six jumping baby-sized cartoon figures, circa 1950, with two spinning tubs and two carved chariots. The rounding boards are painted in a circus theme, and they also have mirrors in the alternate panels, which are well illuminated by the roughly 550 light bulbs that can be found throughout the circumference of the carousel.
Purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Staluppi for display and use in the Cars of Dreams Museum from the American Carousel and Novelty Company several years ago, this 1918 carousel is complete with six jeweled saddle horses, two leader horses with chopped manes, and eight Indian blanket horses, with one example stripped and varnished to highlight the original wood. Both of the chariots are also Alan Herschell originals and are heavily carved pieces, while the two spinning tubs are also newly painted and upholstered. The interior components all appear correct and in good, overall condition, with all aspects of the carousel appearing to operate proficiently and as one would expect.
It is accompanied with all expected items, including the custom built operator's booth that houses all the remote operating switches. As one could imagine, this lot will require professional removal and transport, and we encourage those interested in bidding on the carousel to contact a specialist from the RM Auctions staff in advance of the auction for further information.
This is truly one of the most interesting and dramatic pieces in the Staluppi Collection, and one can easily imagine falling in love with such a fantastic piece of historically important and magnificent memorabilia, especially when witnessing it at speed and adorned with enthusiastic adults and children.