Charles Carmel – Horse Carver
Born in Russia in 1865, Charles Carmel and his young bride immigrated to the U.S. in 1883 and lived in Brooklyn for most of their lives. Charles was a perfectionist in his work and a disciplinarian with his family. Their home was located close to Prospect Park and its stable of riding horses, which served as a source of inspiration for Charles’ carousel horse carving work. It is generally accepted that Charles Carmel carved carousel horses from 1905 to 1920, and sold his work to all of the major carousel manufacturers of the time including Dolle, Borelli, Murphy, and Mangels.
In 1911 Charles invested most of his money in a newly constructed carousel that he intended to operate on Coney Island. The day before the park was to open, a fire totally destroyed the amusement park along with the uninsured carousel. This was a devastating financial blow to the Carmel family. Later his health deteriorated due to diabetes and arthritis until Charles closed his shop and carved a few hours a day at home, filling orders. Charles died in 1933 of cancer, but his legacy lives on with the exquisite carousel animals that he produced throughout his life.
Turn of the Century
Our carousel was originally built and delivered to the Silver Beach Amusement Park in St. Joseph, Michigan in 1910. It was built by the Fred Dolle Company of North Bergen, New Jersey, with horses carved by Charles Carmel. It has 3 rows of horses and 3 chariots on the deck. The carousel operated for 63 years at Silver Beach until it was sold to Marianne Stevens of Roswell, New Mexico – where it resided until we discovered it!
The carousel was originally ordered with no ‘Jumpers’ on board, so in the 1920′s the outside row of 16 horses was sent back to the factory and 16 Carmel jumpers were sent to replace them. The original ‘Standers’ were returned with the new horses and were stored away until 1948 when they were all piled up and burned – such a waste! Jewels were added to the horses in 1924 by M.D. Borelli.