Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Around and Around we Go....

I had written an opening day review that I had planned to have online by last night... but unfortunately life had other ideas. I figured though that it would do us all some good to look at something definitively positive. It will take my mind of things... and it will make us all feel better.

*addition: it has been brought to my attention that my comments above might be construed that my opening day review was too negative to post. That is not the case, the reason I am wanting to write something positive is due to negative events in my personal life, and have nothing to do with the park. I should have the opening day review up between wednesday night and friday night. Stay tuned*

For the last 8 months or so I have watching online the tedious, but amazingly beautiful restoration of the 1926 Illions Carousel, a carousel that will call Worlds of Fun in a matter of weeks. The restoration is being performed by Carousel Works in Mansfield, OH, and then have been working on the restoration since April 2010. Trust me there have been some photos that I have been dying to post online to show everyone. Everyone may not get into this carousel thing as much as I do but once you see the photos I think you will agree that this carousel might be the best thing to come to Worlds of Fun in a LONG time.

Thanks to Brandon I now have the ok to post a few restoration photos online. So lets take a look shall we.

First a little background though, 85 years ago, Marcus Illions set out to create a new Supreme model carousel for the Phildelphia Sesquicentennial. M.C. Illions had separated from another famous Coney Island carousel manufacturer (Charles Looff), several years before simply because he did not like the mass produced direction the carousel world was going. He preferred instead the artistry of the hand shaped carousel horse. Because of this, even though the country today has only two true M.C. Illions carousels in working order (ours being one of the two) he is still considered one of the top two finest carousel carvers ever. His animals in many ways almost seem to come to life, and appear to almost be ready to burst off the ride and go running off.

In true Coney Island style his horses are quite a bit more flamboyant then carousels of the Philadelphia style, of which there are dozens of examples across the country (including the nearest at Six Flags St. Louis). They traditionally sport gold foiled manes and tails, jewels, and bright colors. As you will see many of these traditional Illions characteristics have been lovingly restored. So I have been putting you off for to long lets take a look.

Here is how the horses appeared in April 2010 when the arrived from Geauga Lake.

And some more horses....

Restoration begins with paint removal...

Detail work and repair of some minor wood damage

This guy is getting some serious work done...

A few horses in the raw... amazing to remember that this is 85 year old solid wood. Good craftsmanship really holds up.

One of the chariot covers also with paint stripped.

After paint stripping and repair, the horses go in for a coat of primer paint.

Another horse getting his first coat.

All done.. we will see this horse again.

The first color being applied... We will see this horse again too.

Silver foil being applied to the decoration.

Getting closer....

All done... pretty doesn't seem to quite cut it...

A close up view of that silver foil after applied...

The brown (chestnut?) horse all decked out and waiting. This was the same horse we saw above with color just starting to be applied.

I like this photo as it gives the full effect of one row of horses as they will appear on the carousel itself.

It's not just the horses getting some love its also the trim, and there is a lot of that too.

This will be the cover for the band organ, we will see it in all its glory in just a second.. These small wood pieces are each single wooden rose blooms.

A close up....

The whole band organ cover, ready for paint. Yes folks this is JUST the band organ cover.

Paint being applied, this must be a tedious job with all those little roses.

We saw one of the chariot covers above removed of paint, its only appropriate to see it in its full regalia.

I had to include this one, its my favorite so far. If it wasn't for the gold mane, I would be almost thinking this horse is about to go run out of the photo...

One last look, amazing to think that this is simply hand carved wood.

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Dan said...

I'd like to clear up some misinformation in this blog, I'm the publisher of Carousel News and Trader magazine. Once misinformation gets started it's hard to stop.

This carousel is not a Illions Supreme. All the Supreme carousels were 3 row carousels this machine is a 4 row.

The trim is completely different and the most important thing this carousel is missing the Illions American Beauty horse commonly known as a Rose horse today. The lead horse on every Supreme. You can see one of the Supreme American Beauty horses on the cover of the carousel book Painted Ponies. The book also goes into details about the three Supremes.

There were only three Supremes made and all are still around.

The last and finest Supreme made is currently undergoing a museum restoration.

Another is in Maine with some of it's original animals the rest of the machine populated with Illions horses from various Illions carousels.

The last is currently up and running at Gilroy Gardens in Gilroy CA. The original animals replaced with fiberglass animals made from molds taken from the Supreme carousel.

This information comes from Barney Illions the youngest son of the carver Barney Illions who painted the last Supreme and Barney Illions great grand daughter.

Also there is extensive information about the machines from the Harry Illions archives. The family owned several amusement parks. Harry was the oldest son and worked on the parks not as a carver. These archives also show his father Barney got his start carving with Frank Bostock in England prior to coming to the US.

There is a surviving picture of Harry with a model 4 row Illions that they called Supurbas in their advertising. Illions would take this Suburba model also know as a salesman's sample to the conventions of the National Association of Amusement Parks, Pools and Beaches or NAAPPB. This group is now know as The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions or IAAPA today. This model is on display at Disneyworld in FL today. Disney purchased this model direct from the Granddaughter at auction.

Harry was also married to Florence Lusse one of the owners of Lusse Bros. The company not only made bumper cars but was the machining company for both Dentzel and PTC for their carousels.

All of this documentation is very in depth and complete.

Your carousel is a very nice machine but it is not a Illions Supreme.

Jennifer said...

These are all very valid points, and I am inclined to agree, which is why at one point (in the past) I did state that the 1926 Illions was a Superb and not a Supreme. However, you did say yourself in a previous e-mail that it was truthfully unknown as to whether it was a supreme or not. Which is why when I was presented with evidence that it truly was a supreme that I considered that conclusive evidence to a previously undecided argument (argument used in a positive light here).

So now we have very good evidence to point to it NOT being a Supreme. However, we also have evidence, that I have not seen, that I have only been told about, that might point to it BEING a supreme.

As far as these being the children, grandchildren of Marcus Illions. I have no doubt that what you are saying is true. And... it could very possibly be fact. I am not willing to concede that point though if there is evidence we have yet to consider. I also know that 85 years is a long time, and that memory and fact are not always the same thing.

One must consider ALL evidence before making a final verdict.

On a personal note it will not personally bother me if its a Supreme or not a Supreme, but of course I do want to be as accurate as possible.