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Just for fun WHAT A FIND!!!!

For at least 20 years I've been looking for an original carousel horse that
we could restore! And no, not on ebay -- although we love ebay!
We wanted to find it the old fashioned, romantic way: by stumbling upon it!

Carousel horse restoration CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

Here's the story: My husband and son were at the IOLA car show (fantastic LARGE show and swop meet -- what my brother calls the "woodstock" of motorheads--in IOLA, WI) when my husband saw legs peeking partially out from behind a partially closed swap tent door. He peeked in and saw the horse. Right away he was excited and my son remembered what aisle it was in so they could return the next day and talk to the person who was selling it. When they returned the next day it was still there and my husband took pictures of it and got the vendor's contact info. He didn't want to buy the horse outright because there are MANY fakes out there. He brought the pix home to me because (having worked for a time restoring carousel animals for a shop that specializes in that) I could tell if it was a fake. When I saw the pix I almost fell out of my chair at the computer! It was real!

It was definately real! I couldn't believe it! It was like finding a treasure! So immediately I called the vendor and said we were interested. The vendor, on his way home to Michigan made plans to meet my husband half-way (at Crivitz, WI) to sell the horse to us. My husband got there very late mostly due to road construction and getting lost but the gentleman and his wife stuck it out and were kind enough to wait a couple of hours for my husband & son to show. My husband learned at that time that the couple had named this horse "Sally" and that the gentleman had originally wanted to restore it but didn't have the time.

What follows is a photo documentation of what we are doing to restore the horse. Eventually we would possibly like to paint a small design on the blanket -- of course, I'm thinking something northwoods. Pinecones? Maybe, but it's been done before.... Any suggestions?? Email me!!

What an unbelievable treasure to find
at a swap meet!!!!

Here are the facts:

"Sally" had metal Parker shoes on her and we confirmed that she is a track horse (converted to a carousel horse later) from between 1890 & 1895. She is an Armitage Herschell (made by the Armitage Herschell company).

Sally is "country-fair" style meaning that she is simply decorated, portable and traveled around the country in the back of a truck going from town to town as part of a money-making machine. Entertainment for adults -- at it's best! Yes, that's right, this was part of a 'spectacle' that adults enjoyed -- they'd ride the carousel and hang off the side and go for the 'brass ring.' If they caught it, they got a free ride! As the years progressed these carousels became children's rides.

Country-fair style horses saw a lot of fairs & carnivals. Sally worked hard and had a good time along with everyone she gave rides to. Just think, in 1905 she could've been giving your great-grandmother a ride! Or maybe in 1928 she was giving your grandfather a ride. What about 1950? Your aunt? How about 1972 -- yes, it's possible she could have been working all the way up until recently -- although we have no specific info. regarding this. Now, she is retired and getting a make-over. We are trying to keep her as original and intact as possible.

Sally is completely wooden (carved from poplar) except for her glass eyes. She has strange front legs (Parker legs.). This is not unusual for an original horse because the legs commonly broke due to excessive wear -- and the people running the carousel would just take whatever legs they had laying around and put those on -- even if they were made by a different company. Now, you may say, who cares what type of legs she has? Well, it comes down to the original design and proportions. Sally's front legs look unusually thick and muscular as compared with the rest of her design. Technically we should recarve legs that match to make her more complete -- but we are going to fix her Parker legs and reattach them. Why? Because I want to.

These different legs are part of her specific history and I want to retain her history more than correct her design. I don't plan on selling her but if we did, she would be worth less with the Parker legs (people like complete authenticity). By fixing and reattaching her Parkers, however, we are not doing something that couldn't be reversed/corrected in the future if so chosen.

You will also notice that she is missing ears. This too was a common problem with original horses because of excessive wear: kids grabbing the ears to hoist themselves up on the saddle... Tom will carve these based on photos of similar horses (there are no blueprints available for these horses).

There are other issues that we will correct but this will be only a Partial restoration in that we just don't have time to take her completely apart and 'do it right' --- start from scratch and clean every glue joint and reglue her completely. So, we will be leaving some old fill in and there will be some issues that we are not going to address at this time. Our goal is to get her to 'decent' shape to enjoy her for now since we have such a busy schedule with kids, work..etc... I told Tom maybe when we are old and retired we could take her completely apart. For now this will suffice because she will look great when she is done!

BTW -- she is missing her tail: a real horse hair tail. Yes, this is true. I don't care for this myself and would like to get a synthetic one if possible -- but I don't think it will be possible. So, we may have to ultimately buy a horse tail. She is also missing her hardware: stirrups and mouth bit. We will deal with the 'frosting on the cake' later. First, we must get her major issues addressed and fixed up.

**Warning: Please, if you ever want to purchase an original carousel horse, Please , Please Please! Do the research! There are many fakes and repro's out there and it would be very easy to get ripped off!

Sally, looking for a home at the IOLA car show/swap meet -- IOLA, WI

Sold by a gentleman from the UP of Michigan.

Stripping Sally on our deck.

Original horses have many layers of park paint over their original paint
(they were painted with a fresh eye-catching coat when needed, several times throughout the years). We used a heat gun at first to look for the possibility of original paint (the coolest in the carousel world!) and detail. Then we used liquid stripper. We think the saddle blanket was pale orange and pale green with yellow striping on the edge. We think the saddle was yellow and horse may have been white w/grey mane.
We were told subsequently that these did not sound like an
original color scheme so they were probably park paint as well.

She has beautiful glass eyes.

Here is some neat detail on the saddle that we will have to bring out a little
(carefully carve it a little deeper) so it will show when we paint it.

Cantel design...what could it be?!!

Here's where the tail will ultimately be plugged in.

The front legs are definately replacement legs from another
horse maker (Parker), but they'll stay with her.


Here's a good shot of her mouth. She definately has damage there and
is missing her top teeth. Tom will have to recarve them
(by following pics of similar horses).

We've been told the back legs are probably Parker's as well --
but much closer to the correct style for this horse.

Just look at those beefy Parker front legs!
They were probably replaced in the 1910's - 1920's.

Enough just looking, now the fun begins....

The left front leg was first to come off.
Notice the NON-careful way Sally was fixed throughout the years.
Remember, up until now, she was all about working hard and
bringing in the money -- not art!
So they guys who fixed her did bare minimum and nails-maximum!
(Very -- VERY damaging to the wood).


Here are the front forelegs and knees.
Just look at how splintered they are! We were told to trash these legs and
carve appropriate ones. Even if these were appropriate, most restorer's
would have trashed these because they are so splintered. But, Tom was
up for a challenge and I wanted to keep her as original to
her specific history as possible so Tom prepared to fix these up.



The leg/knee in the front has been glued back togther,
the knee in the back is still clamped and drying.