Circles of Delight: Classic Carousels of San Francisco

Who doesn’t love a carousel horse? One of my fondest dreams has always been to get my hands on one. Do I have room for it? Nope. Do I still want one? Second only to a sword, yep. Actually, if I really had my wish I would have gone into carousel restoration, but that’s a whinge for another day.

Carousel horses are never the common chestnut, that uniform brown that has always made me perk up anytime I saw a gray horse entered in the Kentucky Derby. No, these horses forever frozen in mid-leap are always glorious, gorgeous splashes of color and dramatic markings – or, if brown does occur, it’s a rich red or golden brown that’s hard to ignore.

The three San Francisco-area carousels, by my favorite companies/artists Looff and Dentzel and Herschell Spillman, each receive just about a third of the book; a single page of text outlines the history, followed by page after beautiful page of photos of the circular menageries – the horses and rabbits and tigers and giraffes and goats and camels and cats and even more fantastical animals, bedecked with ornate saddles and bridles and flags and mascots and – my favorites – occasionally armor. Even those parts of the merry-go-rounds that always interested me least, the scenery panels from the center and top canopy and chariots, are shown to their best advantage. I was expecting much less from this book, and was delighted to find over 100 photographs. I couldn’t ask for more.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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