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Historic Carousel Auction Print E-mail
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Friday, 15 February 2008

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Historic Looff/Mangels Carousel Going to Auction After 93 Years With One Family


After  93 years, the The Wintersteen family is selling their family prize, a Coney-Island-style 1909 Looff/Mangels carousel purchased by Alfred and Nettie Wintersteen in 1915.  Due to economic conditions and new regulatory regulations, the family has decided to part with their family heirloom.  

The carousel will be sold by Norton Auctioneers on April 23 at its current location, International Market World in Auburndale, FL, at 1 p.m.  Unlike other carousel auctions that offer the figures individually and then offer the machine intact with the sale going to the highest bidder(s), this prized merry-go-round will be offered intact only.  "This is really the only pure, classic wooden carousel in Florida," notes David Norton.  Although Disneyworld boasts a century-old PTC carousel, they have made quite a few moderations to the figures.  

On this rare wooden carousel, in addition to the figures from Looff, there are figures hand-carved by masters Stein & Goldstein and Charles Carmel.  Among the 35 jumping and standing horses are three giraffes, three camels and three goats to fill out the menagerie.

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"We've owned and operated this beautiful merry-go-round for four generations ... 93 years is a long time," said Mary Ann Wintersteen.   The current owner, Mary Ann, has owned the carousel since 1963 and operated the ride with her husband Robert, and then with her son for nearly 20 years.

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Only the Trimpers of Maryland can claim continuous ownership of a classic American carousel longer than the Wintersteen's.  The family bought the Looff carousel in 1915 from Harvey's Lake Park in PA, and moved it to their nearby Harvey's Lake Picnic Grove where the family would operate the ride until the amusement park closed in 1984.  After two years is storage, the ride was installed in Kissimmee, FL, and then moved to Auburndale in 1996.

With only around 300 large carousels of this kind carved and built by the original artisans of the craft, this is a once-in-a-life-time chance to own a true piece of American history and artistry. Today, only about 100 of the classic, hand-carved by the master-carvers, carousels remain intact and operational. Most of the classic carousels that have been saved are now found in city parks, museums and large amusement parks.  City parks like Central Park in New York City and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, continue to host historic carousels. Museums like the New York State Museum in Albany and the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan also operate and maintain historic merry-go rounds.  And, large amusement parks like Disneyland, Kennywood and the Six Flags and Cedar Fair chains take pride to keep many of these historic machines in operation for all to enjoy. This very special machine which will be offered for sale is one of less then 10 such carousels still held in private hands.

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The largest restorer of classic carousels in America, Daniel Horenberger of Brass Ring Entertainment in Sun Valley, CA, said  " I get asked all of the time for carrousels like this for amusement parks, city parks, and even for private use. This is one of just three available today in the world and the only one selling at a no-reserve auction."

"The last classic carousel offered like this sold for $1.2 million at a private sale in New York City and that was quite a few years ago," Horenberger adds. "It will be interesting to see where this one goes."

Every time a carousel like this sells, there is one less out there. With other carousels for public sale in the $2.5 million plus range it will be interesting to see what this auction brings.

"Carousels like this don't come on the auction market everyday. I wouldn't be surprised if another doesn't come up for years, if ever. With places like Dubai and South America buying all of our amusement rides, I hope this piece of Americana can stay in the USA." Horenberger adds.

For more information and color brochure on this historic carousel auction, visit www.nortonauctioneers.com.  For recent photos of the carousel, you can also visit www.carousel.com/Mangels.

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