Eileen Gregg

Eileen Gregg, op-ed columnist. Eileen Gregg lives in Lancaster.

Recently, I came across an old online article announcing the auctioning of a rare classic wooden carousel animal — a Dentzel rooster — by William Bunch Auctions and Appraisals in Chadds Ford. The article, dated April 4, 2016, and headlined “Cock of the Walk: Rare Carousel Rooster to Cross the Auction Block,” states that this was the first Dentzel rooster to come to auction in nearly 25 years.

The auction was to include “600 lots of American, European, Asian antiques and decorative arts.” The article had a picture and description of only one item from these 600 lots — and that was the Dentzel carousel rooster.

The Dentzel rooster to be auctioned was dated 1885, the same date as that of the rooster on the Rocky Springs Carousel. Included in the Dentzel catalog of 1885, the rooster was not a popular carousel animal, which may be why Gustav Dentzel carved only five of them. The Rocky Springs Carousel rooster is the only one not in a private collection.

The “Cock of the Walk” article states that the rooster being auctioned at Bunch Auctions was from a carousel previously owned by Leon Perelman, who had offered the carousel to the City of Philadelphia. When the city turned down the offer, the carousel was broken up and its animals were sold at auction, except for the Dentzel rooster, which Perelman kept until his death.

I called Bunch Auctions and learned that the Dentzel rooster was sold for $75,000 to a private collector from Alabama.

The rooster on the Rocky Springs Carousel, called Oscar the Rooster, was the first of 13 animals on the Rocky Springs Carousel to be given a professional restoration by Old Parr’s of Highland Park, Illinois. A color picture of the restored rooster appeared in an article, “Class menagerie,” which appeared in the May 20, 2005, edition of the Lancaster New Era. It was also pictured, in color, in a Lancaster Intelligencer Journal article titled “Coming ‘round again” on that same date.

Rocky Springs Carousel rooster

Oscar the Rooster is a figurine from the Rocky Springs Carousel.

The Intelligencer Journal article quotes Lisa Parr saying she spent a total of 468 hours restoring Oscar the Rooster. Speaking of the rooster and the other Rocky Springs Carousel animals that she restored, Parr states, “These are the most spectacular animals I’ve ever had the privilege and honor of working on.”

Considering this, why has the public been excluded for years from seeing Oscar the Rooster? Why is it not on display at LancasterHistory, Millersville University, Franklin & Marshall College, or at one of Lancaster’s museums or art galleries?

Lancaster’s “Cock of the Walk” should be made available for public viewing until a place is found — preferably in the city but, if not in the city, then in the county — for Lancaster’s hidden treasure, the Rocky Springs Carousel.

Eileen Gregg is a Lancaster resident.

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