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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.

Update - Aug 29, 2008: "Missy Lake," the carousel horse, arrived safely at the Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth, KS on Monday, August 25. After examining her, the Parker Museum's staff confirmed she is quite a beauty, and is a pattern they do not have. The restoration process will include fixing the joints, stopping the wood rot, and re-carving some of the missing parts.


Libertyville History Blogger said...

I am amazed at the wide selection of artifacts in your collection! How did "Missy Lake" come to be at the Lake County Museum in the first place?

D_Dretske said...

The Museum's founder, Robert Vogel, thought Missy Lake would be a good addition to the collection. Mr. Vogel sometimes added items that were not directly related to the county in order to build the collection and have interesting things to display. These days, the museum's collecting scope is much more selective.

Anonymous said...

I have an old C W Parker, carousel horse i am interested in selling. it is an "inside" or "left handed" from the old amusement park at jantzen beach ore
I can send pictures if anyone is interested

Diana Dretske said...

You should contact Jerry Reinhardt, Director of the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum, Leavenworth, KS.

Thank you!

Catherine Johnson said...

I just acquired a carousel horse yesterday. Have been reading up on the subject and determined its a Parker, but of course wanted more proof. It just so happens I shined a flashlight on the hooves this morning, discovered some paint covered letters, but could only make out 'rth ka' ... I was stumped until just now when you mentioned the hoof stamp of a Parker horse included "leavenworth kansas" Onward and upward and thank you most kindly for providing that lil' tidbit !! - Catherine

Diana Dretske said...

Excellent. Thanks for letting me know!

Anonymous said...

I have a cw parker stitch pillow with first ride 5 cent with ticket stub engraved inside it looks just like the cw parker picture of the carousel in Kansas it's just more detailed I wishing to sell it's a piece of art