Do you like to read cozy mysteries? I certainly do, and I love Cate Price’s Berkley Prime Crime mystery series.
I share a special connection to Cate’s books, since I read early drafts of book one Going Through The Notions and was a research source for that book, as well as book two in the series, A Dollhouse To Die For. Cate’s new release is Lie of The Needle.
When I discovered Cate had visited a New England carousel museum over the holidays, I invited her to share her beautiful pictures and experience with us. I hope you enjoy her tour.
Please welcome Cate and be sure to leave her a comment. Residents inside the continental USA will be automatically entered to win a copy of her latest cozy mystery Lie of The Needle.
*Winner Announced Saturday, 1/24/15.
Congratulations to Laura F., winner of LIE OF THE NEEDLE!
Many thanks to all who visited and entered Cate’s contest.
The New England Carousel Museum by Cate Price
On a recent trip home to Connecticut, I paid a visit to the New England Carousel Museum that’s housed in an old hosiery factory building in Bristol. A friendly and knowledgeable tour guide showed me and my mom around, and we started with how the horses are made.
Interestingly, they’re not carved from a single piece of wood as I’d imagined, but from many small pieces held together with wooden dowels and animal hide glue. A carousel horse is hollow inside to make it lighter in weight. Some are time capsules in a way, because carvers often hid items in the cavity, like their tools or even a lottery ticket! The heads and bodies were made separately from each other, and our guide showed us a quirky example where the head was far too big for the horse’s body.
The museum has a large variety of antique hand-carved, hand-painted carousel horses, in various stages of repair. Some are in their original condition, but most are fully and beautifully restored. They’re not just historic examples of entertainment, but truly works of art, and there are several different styles. The highly expressive “Coney Island” style horses have flared nostrils and “peek-a-boo” looped manes, and are flamboyantly decorated with cabbage roses, feathers, jewels, and even real gold leaf. The “Philadelphia” style is more classic and realistic, with sweet faces, and then there’s the folk-art “Country Fair” horses which are smaller and built in simpler poses, with outstretched legs which made them easier to stack for transport.
My mother loved the white English prancing horse, but I think my favorite was the little one who hadn’t been restored yet, with his distressed wood and multiple layers of peeling paint, showing how many times he had been fixed up over the years, with whatever paint the carousel park owners happened to have on hand.
The horses have a fancy or “romance” side that is highly decorated, but the one that faces the inside of the carousel is plainer. Something else I hadn’t realized is that in America the horses travel counter clockwise. In England the horses go clockwise, so those horses were pointing in the opposite direction to show their best side. I also noticed that some had a decorative feature at the rear of the saddle, like a brace of game birds peeking out, a monkey, flowers, or fruit, to name but a few.
The museum has Menagerie figures, too, like a double-seater rooster, rabbit, cat, duck, giraffe, pig, and magnificent carved lion. The master carver on staff has created new figures, such as a lovely manatee. There are other curiosities, including an old fortune teller machine, a wooden fairy tale carriage, and a Wurlitzer band organ.
The New England Carousel Museum has the contract to manage the historic Bushnell Park Carousel in Hartford that was built in 1914 by Stein and Goldstein and features forty-eight hand-carved wooden horses and two lover’s chariots.
Carousels often included open carriages to accommodate Victorian ladies’ skirts.The museum is dedicated to the acquisition, restoration and preservation of carousels and carousel memorabilia, with a focus on educational programs. Although we didn’t have time on this visit, also housed in the same building is the Museum of Fire History and The Bristol Center for Arts and Culture.
Price of admission is only six dollars for adults (less for seniors and children), which includes a ride on the working carousel. It’s definitely worth a visit!
The New England Carousel Museum is located at 95 Riverside Avenue, Bristol, CT. 860-585-5411. They are closed in January and February, but available for private parties. www.thecarouselmuseum.org
About Cate Price:
Cate Price is the author of the Deadly Notions mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime. The third book in the series, LIE OF THE NEEDLE, was published January 6, 2015.
As the owner of Sometimes a Great Notion, a shop specializing in vintage sewing notions and antique treasures, Daisy Buchanan is a strong advocate of preserving the past. But when a killer strikes, she turns her attention to saving lives…
Talk about a great notion! As a fund-raiser to save a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse and stop an ambitious developer, the ladies of the Historical Society of Millbury, Pennsylvania, are producing a Hunky Men of Millbury calendar. Daisy is delighted to lend her support, and the female population of the village is abuzz with anticipation.
But after Daisy’s close friend Cyril doesn’t show up for his photo shoot and the calendar photographer is found dead, it’s beginning to look like the days may be numbered for the men of Millbury. Can a cryptic verse on an antique sampler help Daisy pin down the killer before another pinup runs out of time?
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