Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Clocks and Carousels

We had considered visiting New York city by train on the last day we had in Connecticut.  However, that would involve a lot of  travel time and there was still plenty to see just in the area where we were parked, which was Thomaston.  That town once was the home of the Seth Thomas clock factory.  A town near Thomaston, Bristol, was the world's leader in the production of affordable time pieces in 1844.  At one time in the early 1800s there were more than 200 companies of varying sizes engaged in the manufacturing or assembly of clock movements and cabinets within a 12-15 mile radius of Bristol.  No surprise, then, that the American Clock and Watch Museum is located in Bristol!  The museum is housed in a structure built in 1801, which needed the addition of two wings to display 3,000 clocks and watches. It is a superb collection of clocks and watches spanning two centuries.  And there is every type of clock on display; from shelf clocks to grandfather clocks, to church tower clocks, novelty clocks and atomic clocks (to name only a few of the many types found in the museum).  There are also a wide variety of watches, and period furniture.
A great deal of the charm in visiting a museum like this one is hearing the ticking, chiming and striking of all of the various clocks on the hour and half hour.  We had an equally fascinating time at The New England Carousel  Museum.  There is a guide for visitors through this museum and our guide pointed out to us that it is a working museum.  In the museum are rooms for restoring and preserving the antique carousel animals.  Most carousel new carousel  animals now are made of molded plastic. However, new carousel animals created by this museum are carved from wood.  The wooden horses are created from many layers of wood and are held together by animal hide glue.  No nails are used or screws are needed.   Pictured below is the room where they are painted or, if antique, touched up with new paint.
Many different antique carousel animals are on display in the museum.  Pictured below is the Lincoln Head Penny Horse.  It was created in 1909 to commemorate the issuing of the Lincoln Head Penny.  It was made by Marcus Illions, one of the top ten carvers at the turn- of- the- century.  Only three of these horses were made, and of the three, the one pictured below is the last one remaining today. All of the horse's hoofs are up, so it is a jumper horse, one that can move up and down.  The other two types of carousel horses are prancers and standers, their hoofs are in different positions and on the carousel they have no movement.  I think that after touring the carousel museum I can tell anything you might wish to know about that carnival ride, including how it evolved over the centuries!  Would you believe that the first carousel ride happened 500 years ago, and at that time they were pulled by steeds?  I had better end this posting before it gets any longer!   Our tour ended on a wonderful note, with a ride on the museum's carousel.  The museum also has a charming party room for birthdays and weddings.  Carousel animals decorate the room, of course!

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