Late 19th Century Gustav Dentzel Carousel Horse - Mathilda, an Inside Row Prancer. From carousel in Dover, PA. Documents and photograph available to ascertain Mathilda's origin. Removeable tail of horsehair. Beautiful wood finish and multi-color trim. Very strong frame; no major restoration work done. One original leather stirrup remains. 53"H, 48"W, 11"D. Mathilda does not come with the table featured in the catalog photograph. Very good condition for an authentic, unique and antique Dentzel. A brief history of Dentzel - Philadelphia-style horses were realistic. From the veins carved into perfectly shaped heads to the careful positioning of each well-formed leg, the wooden reproductions mimicked real animals. Natural poses captured the toss of a mane or a powerful gallop. If it were possible, the carvers would have added the smell of the stable and a high-pitched whinny to their creations. The Dentzel factory has been long remembered and highly praised in carousel history. The Philadelphia-style factory employed many of the principle carvers who are still honored today. The patriarch of the Dentzel factory, Gustav A. Dentzel, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1860. The 20-year-old had carved carousels for his father in Germany and he soon began practicing that trade in America. Seven years after landing in the new country, Dentzel changed the nameplate of the cabinet-making shop he started to G.A. Dentzel, Steam and Horsepower Caroussell Builder, and his lifelong dedication to carousels officially began. Before embarking on his manufacturing venture, Dentzel toured the countryside with a small, portable carousel he had made. During his travels he discovered that people were eager to ride his galloping wooden horses. Dentzel continually experimented with variations on the standard carousel. He followed the development of energy sources, using horses at first and switching to the steam engine. Two brothers, Daniel and Alfred Muller, had close ties to the Dentzel factory. Their father, Johann Heinrich Muller, was a friend to and carver for Gustav Dentzel. After the early death of the elder Muller in 1890, the brothers were treated like part of the family in the Dentzel household. They left the factory to carve for others, in part to escape Dentzel's stern control. Their benefactor saw the brothers' departure as an act of treachery and never forgave their disloyalty. William Dentzel did not carry his father's grudge and rehired the two in later years when their own carousel company failed. Salvatore Cernigliaro a 23-year-old woodcarver from Sicily, made an impact on the Dentzel horses soon after he was hired in 1903. "Cherni" reorganized the factory's method of carving pre-set patterns. But his biggest contribution was to introduce a series of menagerie animals, notably the Dentzel cat, pig and rabbit. Cherni began his carousel carving career when he arrived penniless from Italy. The Italian furniture carver first created carousel figures in the shop of E. Joy Morris. Cernigliaro's playful animals are still highly regarded today. The addition of these animals opened the door for more experimentation and variety of fresh subjects for the artists in the Dentzel factory. Under the Sicilian immigrant's hand, the Dentzel horse gained more elaborate embellishments. Fancy harnesses, garlands and drapery appeared on the horses he carved and they became part of the Dentzel heritage. The carousel pioneer died in 1909, but one of his sons, William, successfully steered the family business for 20 more years. After William's death in 1928, the company was sold at an auction to a competitor, the Philadelphia Toboggan Company. At that time, none of the family members had an interest in continuing the carousel tradition. The mixture of artists dedicated to their craft and the Dentzels' business philosophy was a winning combination. For many years Dentzel animals and carousels have been most valued by collectors. A rare Dentzel menagerie figure holds the world record for a carousel figure sold at auction. The circa 1900 rooster sold in 1989 for $148,000.00. Collectors have always sought out the Dentzel carvings because of their extraordinary carving and exceptional artistic designs. The Dentzel Family have once again started to dabble in the design and construction of portable carousels. You can visit the Dentzel's website by going to http://www.dentzel.com. Historical Note: The first merry-go-rounds (carousels) were built for the noble little boys of old Europe. Before they learned to fence and joust, the youngsters rode in circles and practiced stabbing stationary rings with small lances. Most were right-handed. That's why all merry-go-rounds thereafter turn counter-clockwise.
Misc. Antiques and Curiosities