History of the Dentzel TraditionThe 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.
For the last 160 years the Dentzel name has been identified with excellence in the pioneering and development of the hand carved carousel. In 1837 Michael Dentzel, woodworker and wheelwright, first began building carousels and touring the countryside of Germany with his beautiful machines. Michael's son Gustav followed in his foot steps. In 1864, at the age of eighteen, Gustav immigrated to America, and by 1867 he was in the business of building carousels in Philadelphia.
Gustav's sons, William and younger brother Edward, worked in the Germantown factory where many magnificent sculptures were created. Some of these works of art reside at museums around the country: The Smithsonian Institute, The Shelbourne Museum in Vermont, and The Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio. Some were recently exhibited at The Mingei International Museum in San Diego.
With the death of William in 1928, carousel manufacturing in Germantown came to an end and Edward moved to California to become a designer/builder of large Beverly Hills homes. He also served as councilman for many years and later, mayor.
In the late 1970'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. And today there is a revival in the Dentzel family: William's sons David and Bill are carrying on in the fine Dentzel tradition. 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.
David began his wood working career as a young boy, borrowing his father’s tools for his many projects. By his early twenties he was on his way to becoming a master wood carver and designer/builder of fine period furniture as well as original and commission pieces. David has built the interiors of restaurants, country clubs, sailboats, automobiles, and houses, and has designed and manufactured furniture in China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico and Haiti. His clients include Michael Douglas, Robert Zameckis, Marvin Davis, Kenny Loggins, Julia Childs, and the Pillsbury family.