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First Posted: Mar 7, 2012
Mar 7, 2012

Carousel Terminology/Some Carousel Definitions

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"Coney Island Style - a carving style primarily represented/defined by the works of Illions, Carmel, Looff and Stein and Goldstein. The Coney Island style is associated with very fanciful or spirited horses/menagerie animals, many of which had wild, flowing manes and highly decorated trappings, often with flowers or jewels.

Philadelphia Style - a carving style primarily represented/defined by the works of Dentzel, Muller, and the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC). The Philadelphia style is associated with very realistic-looking horses/animals, who normally were carved with very lifelike poses and expressions.

Country Fair Style - a carving style primarily represented/defined by the works of Dare, Armitage, Herschell, Spillman, and C.W. Parker. The Country Fair style is associated with smaller, very stylized horses that were intended to be transported from place to place and not installed on permanently-placed carousels.

Outside Row - The outermost ring of any carousel contains the largest and most decorated figures. This was because the outside row is the one most easily seen by spectators - so the horses intended for the outside row were the ones most heavily decorated. Middle- and inside-row horses rarely show all the beautiful carving detail that an outside-row horse carries.

Romance Side - The most highly-decorated side of a carousel horse. Most carousel horses, especially outside-row horses, carried much more decoration on the side of the horse that was going to be seen by the public than on the side that faced towards the center of the carousel. On American carousels, the Romance Side is on the right side of the horse - on English carousels, it is on the left. The reason for this is the difference in rotation direction between American and English carousels.

Menagerie Figure - Any carousel animal that was not a horse. Some popular menagerie figures were tigers, lions, bears, deer, pigs, goats, giraffes, rabbits, and cats. Some mythical creatures like the sea monster and hippocampus (front half of a horse and back half of a fish) were also found on carousels and would also be considered menagerie figures.

Jumper - describes a horse/figure that has all four feet off the carousel platform. Jumpers are normally the 'moving' horses on a carousel (either suspended from the overhead or attached to a mechanism from underneath). Another term sometimes used for a horse with all four feet off the platform is galloper.

Prancer - describes a carousel horse/animal that has the two back feet on the platform, and two front feet in the air. Prancers would most often be found on the outside row of a carousel, though they were not as common as the jumpers or standers.

Stander - describes a horse/animal that has either three or all four feet touching the platform. Outside-row animals are often standers which do not move up and down.

Stargazer - describes a head position where the nose is pointing skyward - towards the stars.

Lead Horse - the 'number one' horse on a carousel. The lead horse is usually the most decorated one on the outside row, and sometimes carried the markings or initials of the manufacturer somewhere in its trappings.

Rounding Board - the decorative boards that are placed on the upper portion of the outside of the carousel, below the canopy, and often carved and brightly painted. The rounding boards hide the mechanical workings of the carousel."

For More Information:

Carousels and Merry-Go-Rounds

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