Exhibit Documents the Evolving Art of the Carousel Horse
The Lockman Collection, purchased by the museum in 1995, documents the changes in style of carousel animals over a period of sixty years in the different factories with which Allan Herschell was associated. The earliest animals are small and fairly plain. Later animals have a more realistic look and have been carved with more detail.
The collection includes animals from the four eras of carousel companies in North Tonawanda: the Armitage-Herschell Company, Herschell-Spillman Company, Spillman Engineering Company, and Allan Herschell Company. Some have elaborate scroll work and painted details on their bridles and saddles. This collection also includes several unusual and popular menagerie animals, such as a carousel dog, a wild boar, a rooster, and an ostrich.
The Armitage-Herschell Company (1872-1906), was as well known for its custom made boilers and machinery parts as it was for its Steam Riding Galleries (early merry go rounds). The Herschell-Spillman Company (1906-1926), made safety and design improvements to carousels. Herschell’s third company, the Allan Herschell Company (1916-1969), introduced the concept of aluminum horses and “Kiddieland” rides. The Allan Herschell Company factory complex is the only remaining North Tonawanda facility which produced hand carved carousels. It houses the present day Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.
The Herschell companies collectively were the most prolific producers of carousels in the country, manufacturing machines which were known for quality in workmanship and reliability. Their horses, while not as elaborate as some of their competitors, have a charm and grace which is unique to Herschell animals. They are prime examples of the “county fair” style of carousel horse.