Lot Number

1998 46-Foot Custom Carousel With 42 Animals, 2 Chariots and Wurlitzer 153 Band Organ

Sold For $1,207,500

Inclusive of applicable buyer's fee.


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, handmade by craftsmen with extraordinary attention to detail. The Milhous Collection's carousel typifies this remarkable era and blends perfectly into the collection's theme, particularly mechanical music, which was also in its heyday during the same period. Indeed, the fair organs that surround the carousel on the main level are of the type whose size was frequently used to disguise the magnificent carousel behind it. As such, the spectators who wanted to enjoy it were required to pay admission first before seeing and riding the carousel that was behind it.

The offering of this extraordinary carousel is an opportunity not to be missed. It was custom made to exacting specifications for the Milhous Collection over a period of several years. Installed in 1998, the attention to detail is stunning, from the stained glass and depictions of the Eight Wonders of the World around the upper molding to the menagerie of 42 animalsand 2 chariots, each of which is based on rare, well-known original pieces that were masterfully replicated by professionals. Amoung the wood carved animals are two rocking animal chariots (an elegant peacock and a charming swan), one of which is wheelchair accessible to ADA standards. These are all hand-carved pieces in wood, without any use of plastics or substandard materials, and they reside on a wooden platform with a 42-foot diameter. The overall diameter of the entire carousel is a remarkable 46 feet with all motorized mechanical elements residing in the center.

The three rows of animals are stunning and of the same high caliber throughout, in contrast to less elaborate carousels where the quality of the animal decreases toward the center with the most expensive and impressive pieces relegated to the outside row. The carousel turns in the counter-clockwise direction, as is typical of American examples. To complement the Milhous Collection, it features several decorations with a musical theme and symbols that accent the center surround in gold leaf. For example, images of cherubs playing a flute or a harp grace the mirrored shields along the top of the carousel.

The carousel is complete with an original Wurlitzer Model 153 Band Organ installed in the center fa├žade. In the early 20th century the Wurlitzer Style 153 band organ was one of the most popular models. It was small enough that it could be carried from town to town by traveling shows yet large enough that it played music in a brilliant and commanding manner for merry-go-rounds. At one time the Gooding Amusement Company, based in Ohio, had over a dozen examples. Today the Henry Ford Greenfield Village in Michigan displays a fine example on its carousel. Playing Wurlitzer Style 150 band organ rolls on a duplex roll mechanism, it contains 164 pipes, 16 orchestra bells, bass drum, snare drum and cymbal, with automatic registers for shutters, bells and certain pipe ranks. The duplex roll mechanism allows for one roll to rewind while the other is playing, so there is never a long silent period during a carousel ride.

With the cost of this carousel's construction and the accompanying organ far exceeding the current catalog estimate, the offering of this fully functioning carousel is an opportunity not to be missed by established and burgeoning private collections. It adds an inimitable element of entertainment to a collection and is sure to delight visitors of all ages. Best of all, there's no need to stand in line or pay admission!

Please note the aforementioned organ comes with ten music rolls.

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