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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Original Paint or Not?

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.

Joe Comm

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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Mr Comm,

I saw your blog about the paint on the animals from Rock Springs Park.

I currently have the framework of the carousel and it will be put on ebay this week along with a complete set of replacement animals.

I know the original animals well. I've work with the Freels for over 30 years. Many of my customers and friends bought the animals at the auction. I also see you contacted Lise Liepman. She does a lot of the paint work for some of my restorations.

You can see my work at carousel.com and I also own the magazine Carousel News and Trader. We specialize in museum quality restorations and original paint.

In response to your repaint of the carousel animals..

They are NOT repainted. People not in the carousel world do not understand the difference between maintenance and repainting. At the auction everyone was well aware of the touch ups that were done over the years. This is just normal maintenance for an operating carousel.

Carousels like the original paint machines at Glen Echo and Burlington have had the same maintenance. Original paint bodies touched up in the wear areas with plenty of layers of varnish.

Carousels get worn areas. That's normal. Those areas are touched up and new varnish applied. This work on a full machine can take 2 to 3 weeks. A repaint 4 to 6 months back then.

This normal touch up is what was done to the animals from the carousel. It did not affect the value of the pieces. Thankfully RSP had a great maintenance platform for the carousel. If this touch up was not performed over the years then a total repaint would have been necessary and would have been done before the closing of the park.

Most animals were purchased at auction then touch up painting performed and new non yellowing varnish was applied to protect the purchase. This is the same type of work that is performed on museum quality paintings.

When you look at any of the pieces from the RSP carousel you can easily see the touched up areas and several layers of additional varnish. Normal on any original paint carousel animal. There is no indication of a repaint on any of the animals. This is why the animals still looked the same after the work performed by Mr. Schatt. You have to remember in 1937 the carousel would have only been 10 years old and would never had needed a repaint. This was a normal maintenance of the paint.

Hope this clears up any confusion on the pieces.

Also the carousel was the last machine from the Dentzel factory. The trim on the frame is all original paint with no touch ups. Hope we are able to find a new home for the machine.

Daniel Horenberger
Brass Ring Entertainment
11001 Peoria Street
Sun Valley, CA 91352
fax 818-332-7944