In 2009, while researching the carousel in Rock Springs Park, I came across an article which gave me pause. In it, the author suggested that the horses when sold at auction were not in original factory paint as advertised, but had, in fact, been repainted in 1937. The restoration work was done by a former Gustav Dentzel employee, Frances D. Schatt of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, who apparently kept to the original colors of the Daniel Muller-designed horses. This made me wonder whether the restorative work would have had any effect on the value of the horses or the sellers claim that they were in “original park paint”. It is not as if, the horses were repainted, as many still-operating carousels have been, in the bright and often garish colors experts refer to as “park paint.” Schatt was an expert.
To seek an answer, I wrote to Lise Liepman, a carousel horse restorer who worked with Tobin Fraley at the Freels Foundation.
Dear Mrs. Liepman,
I am writing to inquire about the carousel horses that were once housed in Rock Springs Park in Chester, WV. I am currently working on a picture history book about the park and was hoping you might be able to answer a couple of questions I have.
Your friend, Tobin Fraley, used some of the Daniel Muller-carved horses from Rock Springs in his book The Carousel Animal. In fact, the horse on the frontispiece is from Rock Springs Park. Were you involved in restoring or preparing any of the Rock Springs Park horses? If so, could you share any information you have about them.
Also, I have one technical question about carousel horse restoration: In an article from the East Liverpool Review, date July 19, 1985, the writer made the following claim about the horses from the Rock Springs Park carousel:
"ANOTHER MISCONCEPTION, held by carousel experts as well as local residents, is the belief the horses had never been repainted. However, on October 7, 1937, The Evening Review reported that 'Frances D. Schatt of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company is repainting the ponies of the Merry-Go-Round at Rock Springs Park' The Philadelphia Toboggan Co. was also a manufacturer of carousels and other amusement rides. Schatt had previously been employed in Gustav Dentzel's factory and had accumulated 40 years' experience in the craft. It is understandable therefore that the work of such an experienced painter could be mistaken for original factory paint."
Would this affect the claim that the carousel was in "original factory paint"?
Would such a claim, if it were proved, affect the selling price of the carousel or its horses, or their value to current owners? A lot of people paid large sums of money in the Freels auction in 1998 for these horses. Would they be upset to hear that they were not in original factory paint?
I am trying to explain this concept in my book.
Would an expert such as youself still describe the Rock Springs Park carousel as being in "original factory paint" under these circumstances?
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.
Unfortunately, I did not receive a response, and so, am still left with the same question: “Were Rock Springs carousel horses in original factory paint or not?” Perhaps, someone reading this blog has an answer.