The Dentzel Carousel Company expresses itself today through 5th
generation carouselmaker William H. Dentzel, headquartered in Port
Townsend, WA. The tradition began in
early 1800's southern Germany. Dentzel carousels became larger over
time; mid-19th century second generation Dentzel carouselmakers sailed
cross the Atlantic
with a carousel to test the American market. Carousels
became larger, more elaborate, and widespread during the
turn-of-the-century era. Third generation Dentzel carouselmakers saw
the collapse of the industry during the great depression. More
practical home building became the family trade. Fourth generation
carouselmaker, William H. Dentzel 2, revived the family business in the
1960's and made small children's carousels. Fifth generation
carouselmaker, William H. Dentzel 3, continues this day making 20'
diameter, 15 rider traditional wooden "flying horses" carousels for
children and adults. He also makes
other animated rides and furniture.
During the early 1800's the Dentzel Carousel Company, not yet
named, began as a winter occupation at Michael Dentzel's southern
German wagonmaking shop near Kreutznach. During the summer the Dentzel
family and hands traveled in horse drawn wagons to villages and fairs
to operate carousels. Mid century Michael sent his son Gustav and
brothers with a full sized carousel on a sailing steamer to America. In
Philedelphia, Germantown, Pennsylvania Gustav established a
cabinetmaking and carouselmaking business, the carousel business
flourished. Many immigrating European fine woodworkers, machinists, and
carvers were hired by the Dentzel company. Gustav's two sons, William
and Edward, continued the business building large elegant galloping
carousels for many locations in the USA. Edward relocated to southern
California in the early 1920's to set-up and operate carousels. In
1927, with William's death, the company folded, much of its inventory
was sold to the Philedalphia Tobaggan Company. Edward continued his
life in California as a house contractor in Beverly Hills, eventually
becoming mayor of that city.
Edward's son William 2, born in Santa Monica, California, became a lawyer and raised a family in the San Fernando Valley. In mid-life he too answered the carouselmaker's call to carve animals and make smaller carousels (still in operation across America). After graduating univerisity, his son William 3, worked on wooden sailboats and carousel restorations during travels in his 20's eventually building his first full carousel in Chiapas, Mexico at age 30; this was a life shocking experience. After some more boat work and a wood carving stay in Saint Jean-Port Joli, Quebec William 3 moved to Port Townsend WA where he and wife Penny raised three children enhanced with nearby activities in the backyard carousel workshop; evenso carpentry and boat repair accounted for the majority of the family income. Upon William 2's death in 1991, William 3 continued the joyful task of fitting the Dentzel Carousel Company into the age of computers. Community and student participation, focus on what the children really want, and simple 5/10/15 rider wooden carousels with hand-crank, foot-pedal, and electric powered mechanisms typify the style used to carry the craft into the 21st century.
The ancient origin of the carousel and its use as a military training device in the early middle ages estblished the origins of the ring catcher tradition, this has not been left behind by the Dentzel Carousel Company. The fun, safety, and versatility of the "flying horses" style of mechanism has also been reinvigorated by the DCC, leaving behind the hanging platform. In the Dentzel tradition a large variety of menagerie animals are made for the rides, as on early carousels, swing seats are used right along with the animals to the great satisfaction of the riders. Adults as well as children can ride these latest Dentzel carousels. Slowly there is a sixth generation of Dentzel children well versed in carousel operation easing their way into the business.
The DCC website has information and photos on the present and past endevors of the five generations of Dentzel carouselmakers. Also included are guides to carving, painting and operating carousels. The coloring book on this site was drawn by William 3 for use as a painting guide during restoration work as well as a design guide for making larger scale drawings to construct full sized carousel animals. During the nearly two centuries of Dentzel carouselmaking, mechanism designs have spanned from the very simple to the grand and back again to the simple. Childrens' attraction and appreciation for all types of carousels has never waned though it appears that their more intimate contact with the smaller machines is exceptionally memorable, especially when the ring catching game is played.
Thank you for visiting this site,
William H. Dentzel 3
Port Townsend WA USA