Dentzel Family


Five Generations of Dentzel Design

For at least 160 years the Dentzel name has been identified with excellence in the pioneering and development of the hand carved carousel. The Dentzel story can be traced back to 1837 when Michael Dentzel first began building and touring the countryside of Germany with his beautiful machines. Michael’s grandson Gustav, followed in his foot steps. Gustav, emigrated to America in 1864 at the age of 18, and by 1867 he was in the business of building carousels.

The name CAROUSEL comes from the Italian CAROSELLO or “little war”, a game brought back from the crusades involving clay balls of scented water thrown between galloping horsemen in a ring. In the sixteenth century the French called the game carrousel and turned it into a magnificent spectacle of fancy dress and horsemanship. It made perfect sense for Michael Dentzel to develop the carousel as he was a woodworker and wheel wright. By the late 1920’s after the death of William Dentzel, carousel manufacturing in the Dentzel family slowly came to an end, at which time William’s younger brother, Edward came to California and became a designer/builder of large Beverly Hills homes. He served as councilman for many years and later, mayor.

historic photoToday there is a revival in the Dentzel family. In the late 1970’s and early 80’s William Dentzel II, Edward’s son, began carving as an avocation to his career in law. It seems that he, too, had the talent of a master carver. Today David Dentzel and his brother Bill are carrying on in the fine Dentzel tradition. David’s brother Bill has been focusing on the original Dentzel carousel concept of a hand powered carousel while David has been devoting his time to creating one of a kind full size Dentzel animals. The Dentzel name became well known throughout the world primarily because of the magnificent anatomical carving given to each animal.

Master carvers from Italy, Germany and throughout Europe were working in the Dentzel shop. Edward Dentzel, grandfather to David, was a master head carver and worked in the Dentzel shop until it closed a year before the Great Depression of 1929. Many of these magnificent sculptures reside at museums around the country such as The Smithsonian Institute, The Shelburne Museum in Vermont, The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio, and recently exhibited at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego and parks suchs as the Burlington City Park Carousel in North Carolina and Highland Park in Meridian, Mississippi.