Friday, April 22, 2011

A Leap of Imagination

The following is an online archive of our newest exhibit in the Placer County Museum Treasury.
Click on photos to see larger versions

The emotional and romantic appeal of the carousel 
rests in the saddles of its fanciful 
and exquisitely carved beasts.

 Jumping horse c. 1912 
Charles Carmel 
(Jewels added by M.D. Borelli) 
American (Coney Island Style) 
Painted wood (restored)

The whirl of the carousel, vibrant colors and lights, band organ music, and incredibly beautiful horses are irresistible for children of all ages. Once mounted in the saddle, you can become a veiled princess astride a pet tiger, a bronco riding cowboy, or a dueling knight atop a thundering charger. It is this leap of imagination that made carousels the most popular American amusement ride during the Golden Age of carousels that stretched from 1900 to World War II.

Prancing horse c. 1880 
Charles I.D. Looff 
American (Coney Island Style) 
Park paint on wood

 Standing horse c. 1910 
Charles Carmel 
American (Coney Island Style) 
Painted wood (Restored)

 Jumping horse c. 1911 
Marcus Illions 
American (Coney Island Style) 
Stripped wood

These elaborately carved animals continue to captivate audiences today primarily as works of art rather than as amusement park rides. To define their enduring appeal we need only look for the twinkle in an adult’s eye as they return to their childhood memories or watch a young child enter a fantasy world of horses, bears, swans and lions.


Many companies carved both large park carousels and small portable carousels in Europe and England.

The French produced many barnyard animals such as rabbits, pigs, cows, horses, and delightful dogs and cats.

Jumping rabbit c. 1900 
Gustave Bayol 
French (Portable carousel) 
Park paint on wood

The German carvers, along with carving elegant horses, carved many lions, tigers and bears.

Small jumping horse c. 1910 
Freidrich Heyn 
German (Portable carousel) 
Painted wood

Standing bear c. 1890 
Freidrich Heyn 
Stripped/stained wood

 The animals produced in Mexico were animated, well-muscled, brightly painted and often small for whirling aboard portable fiesta carousels.

Standing bear c. 1940s 
Carver Unknown 
Mexican (Portable carousel) 
Restored stain/paint on wood

The English round-a-bouts all rotate in a clockwise direction whereas American, European and Mexican carousels turn counter-clockwise. The fancy or romance side faces outward.

Jumping horse c. 1890 
G. &  J. Lines 
English galloper (Mark) 
Park paint on wood


Most carousels only have horses and often two chariots. The addition of menagerie animals brings both whimsical and bold choices.

Swan with interior seat c. 1904 
Gustave Bayol 
French (Portable carousel) 
Park paint on wood

It is the brave rider who selects a roaring tiger or lion.

Standing tiger c. 1895
Gottfried Bungarz
American (Coney Island Style)
Park paint on wood

Another might happily choose a flirting rabbit, friendly dog, cat, camel, ostrich, zebra, pig or bear.

Standing camel c. 1905 
Daniel Muller 
American (Philadelphia Style) 
Original paint on wood

Regardless of what animal is chosen, the rider's imagination transforms wood and paint into a magical adventure. Spinning them into a flight of fantasy before it deposits them safely into the real world, forever changed by the journey.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Upstairs at the Bernhard Museum

The Bernhard Museum Complex consists of three historic structures on approximately 1.5 acres that opened to the public in 1982. The main house was built in 1851 and was originally an inn called the “Traveler’s Rest.”

In an effort to make the upstairs of the Bernhard Museum accessible to all, we have created this online exhibit showcasing the many artifacts in the five bedrooms. The upstairs is not handicap accessible but is available to the public Tuesday –Sunday 11:00-4:00. 

click on photos for larger versions
The Staircase
French wall clock "G. Grand-Gannat”, c. 1850

The Sewing Room
Cotton dress c. 1865-1870
Handmade cotton apron c. 1900
Crocheted wool shawl c. 1850
Quilt with red pinwheel and white diamond pattern. Made by Mabel Retherford Scott in the Early 1800's. Brought from Kansas to Oregon and then on to California.
Woven cotton and wool throw rug c. 1860

“Florence” treadle sewing machine with red cast iron legs, c. 1861
Handmade beaded pincushion c. 1857
Thread holder, c. unknown
Velvet trinket box, c. unknown

Sewing bag, c. unknown
Handmade picture frame c. 1900

Lace maker’s cushion with 41 bobbins, c. 1890

Maureen Cook Room
Hope chest, c.1824
Framed pastel drawing of Louise Francis Clawson c. 1880
Walnut bedroom suite, Eastlake style, c. 1880

Wool dress with felt appliqué, c. 1880-1890.
Walnut dresser c. 1870.
Basin and pitcher, c. 1900

Beaded purse c. 1890-1910
Perfume bottle, c. 1900
Colonial Dame toilet soap box manufactured by Allen B. Weisley Co. in Chicago c. 1900.
Broach in box c. 1850
Velvet runner c. unknown

High button boots, c. 1900

Gentleman's Room
Bootjack, c. unknown. Donor record states that it was used by Abraham Lincoln during his regular stops on his circuit rides through Kentucky and Illinois at donor’s Great-Grandfather’s Farm. Donor’s grandfather remembered helping him pull off his boots.
Boots made in Auburn by James Walsh in 1865 for Alex Siefert to wear to a dance in Pilot Hill.

Autoharp “The Favorite,” c. 1900
Smoking jacket c. 1900-1915
Cane (walking stick) of Auburn doctor Dr. R.F. Rooney, c. 1900
Carpet bag, c. unknown

White enamel windmill toilet set (pitcher and basin) c. 1860
Collar and cuff box, c. 1890-1900. Used by John Ross, an early day Auburn resident.
Shaving mug, c. 1890-1910
Mustache cup, c. 1880
Watch and chain, c. 1900
Palmolive soap, c. unknown

Chamber pail (part of the windmill toilet set) c. 1860

Wall pocket with needlepoint design, c. 1890

Cigar case, c. unknown
Cigar box, Penny Havanas Perfectos, c. unknown
Cigar holder and original case, c. unknown
Kerosene lamp, c. 1890

Twin Bedroom
Bedroom suite, Empire period style, c. 1890
Dress, c. 1895
Leather boots, c. 1890

Opera glasses in case, c. 1890-1900
Photo of Jean Estrella Nicholls, age 12, c. 1899

Wardrobe c. 1900
Women’s boots c. 1890-1900
Quilted slippers with fur trim c. 1900
Embroidered cape with fringe, c 1890
Black jacket c. 1890-1900

Portable writing desk c. 1870
Autograph album c. 1880
Mother-of-Pearl paper knife, c. 1900
Inkwell c. 1890
Pen with case c.1880

Beaded pincushion c. 1870
Brass candlestick, circa unknown
Picture of two girls, c. unknown
Handkerchief, c. unknown

Toy Room
Chest of drawers with mirror, salesman’s sample c. 1900
Braided throw rug c. 1890-1920
Child’s tea service, c. unknown

Cotton dress c. 1900-1915

Black mohair toy horse, c. 1890-1910
Train set c. 1890-1910

Miniature cast iron cook stove, used as a sales sample, c. 1898

Iron crib, c. 1900
Doll with porcelain head from Galesburg, Illinois. C. 1850. Head repaired and new dress made by the Sierra Discovery Doll Club.
Quilt, c. unknown
Stuffed cat in blue velvet suit, 1974. Tom Kitten (Beatrix Potter) reproduction
White cotton pillow sham with lace edging and red embroidered flowers and "Good Night" motif, c. unknown

Doll with porcelain head, c. 1860-1890
Rattan toy table, chair and settee set, circa unknown