Rare Carved and Polychrome Paint-Decorated Pine Carousel Tiger, Philadelphia Toboggan Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, circa 1905
Property from a Private Georgia Collector
Property from a Private Georgia Collector
Rare Carved and Polychrome Paint-Decorated Pine Carousel Tiger
Philadelphia Toboggan Company
with inset glass eyes
Height 31 in. by Width 10 1/2 in. by Length 54 1/2 in.
Repainted. Glass eyes look original. Scattered cracks due to shrinkage. Shrinkage crack from the proper left eye to the junction of the body, approximately 12 ½ in. long.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
"What goes around comes around." The old adage has never rang more true than in the context of the carousel animal as a cultural artifact. An early nineteenth century amusement park mainstay synonymous with childhood merriment, carousel animals serve as vestiges of a bygone era before the handicraft of man was supplanted by the infatuation with the machine.
German immigrant, Gustav Dentzel’s creation of the first carousel in America in Philadelphia in the 1860s ignited the “Carousel Golden Age,” both in terms of craftsmanship and an expanding market benefitting from the turn-of-the-century commercialization of leisure activities. The Philadelphia Toboggan Company, founded in 1904, drew upon the “Philadelphia Style” Dentzel coined, which was characterized by the marriage of elegance with realism.1 The Philadelphia Toboggan Company’s models were highly sought after by parks nationwide for their ornate carvings, resplendent colors, and innovative combinations of horses and menagerie animals.
Despite some stylistic variations throughout the ninety four carousels the company created between 1904 and 1934, meticulous record keeping and identification of the carousel models by engraved numbers on the center poles contributes to the ability to attribute and date each animal with greater certitude than most other companies. Out of the ninety four carousels the Philadelphia Toboggan Company created, only six featured tigers.2 The rarity of the present example is further reinforced by its posture as a standing animal, which indicated that it occupied a prized position on the highly visible outer row of three or four rings of animals.
The anatomically accurate physique, highly delineated musculature, and curvature of the tail between the legs constitute three singularly Philadelphian characteristics. But the present example is unique in that the saddle and blanket across the animal’s back display an unparalleled ornate quality, far more detailed than comparable carousel animals of the period. Furthermore, the tiger is distinguished by its amiable disposition, as if he knows he should be roaring, but instead issues a deep belly lap to entice the next rider to jump aboard for a ride.
1 Toby Fraley, The Carousel Animal (Berkeley: Chronicle Books, 1987), 9.
2 Richard A. Gardner and Barbara Williams, “Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel History, 1904-1941,” The Carousel News and Trader Vol. 26 no. 6, June 2010, 17.