Thursday, August 21, 2008
Parker Carousel Horse
As Dorothy says in the Wizard of OZ, "There's no place like home." That's how the staff felt when we discovered that the carousel horse in the museum's collection needed to make its way home to Kansas.
The process of deciding to transfer the horse to the C.W. Parker Museum took several months of research, debate, and board approval. Collections disposition is never taken lightly, and always with the utmost care and consideration.
The first step was to explore the horse's provenance. What was it exactly and where was it from?
We knew from our records that the horse was purchased in the 1950s by the museum's founder, Robert Vogel, when he stumbled across a small town carousel in Iowa being dismantled and sold-off. Confirmation that the horse had no real connection to Lake County began the debate of its disposition. If it doesn't have a Lake County story to tell, then where is it from, and what is the best repository?
Carousel horse enthusiast, Kay Schlumpf, assisted with the "What is it?" aspect of the research. After close examination, and photo documentation, it was learned that the horse was made by the C.W. Parker Amusement Company of Leavenworth, Kansas between 1914-15.
How do we know the horse was made by C.W. Parker? Well, for starters the front left shoe reads: C.W. Parker, Leavenworth, Kansas. But there are other telltale clues such as the legs in the "running pose," the bulges in the legs, depth of the elbow, the fish hanging from the saddle, the long low saddle, the short 'S' curve tail and the wide breastband.
According to the director of the C.W. Parker Museum, the horse appears to be a 2nd or 3rd row horse on a Parker carousel. It is most likely made of poplar or cottonwood, since those were common woods that the company used. It should be noted that Parker didn't actually carve the horses. He was the company founder and businessman of the operation. And interestingly, Dwight D. Eisenhower sanded horses for Parker in 1906 (too early for our horse), since the factory was across from the family home.
After much debate by collections staff (of which the horse's deteriorated condition was taken into account), it was agreed that the best place for the horse was Kansas--where it was made, and where it would be restored and displayed with other Parker horses. After receiving board approval, the horse is on its way home this weekend.
Of course, in the process of doing all this research and preparing the horse for its journey, staff decided it was only fitting to name her. And so, she was dubbed, Missy Lake. Lucky little horse didn't even have to click her hooves three times and say, "There's no place like home." We did that for her.
Be sure to check back. I'll keep everyone updated on Missy Lake's restoration progress at the C.W. Parker Museum.