burned in July, 1907, with a loss estimated at $1,404,000. Luna Park was cut down in a series of fires in 1944, 1947, and 1949. The most spectacular blaze of all was the five million dollar conflagration which leveled Dreamland Park and its environs in the dawn of the Memorial Day weekend, 1911.

The Feltman merry-go-round is itself a relic of fire. There may have been a fire in the nintites, since there is record of a second Looff carousel sold to Feltman during that period. Then sometime around 1900, perhaps in the West Brighton fire of 1899, most of the outer row of horses was burned. Many of the smaller, inside horses were salvaged, but only four of the proud, electrified showpieces survived. Feltman sought out William F. Mangels to build a new ride.


Mangels had established a reputation as an inven­
tive machinist shortly after emigrating from Germany in 1883 at the age of sixteen. His first experience with the fledgling amusement industry was in 1888 when he operated the eight-horsepower steam engine of Dentzel's carousel at the Richmond (Va.) Exposi­tion. Dentzel had him beating the band organ drum to draw a crowd whenever he could leave the boiler unattended.

In Coney Island Mangels worked for James J. McCullough, inventor of moving targets for mechani­cal shooting galleries. (McCullough and his wife, the former Kathryn Tilyou, produced a generation of Coney Island entrepreneurs, including Coney's reign­ing historian, Edo McCullough). Mangels branched out with his own line of shooting galleries and amuse­ment rides. His first patent was the Razzle-Dazzle in 1891. When William Johnson brought one of Fred­erick Savage's roundabouts to Coney Island, Mangels was quick to recognize the potential of its jumping horse suspension. (The Johnson import was also uni­que at the time for its clockwise rotation. It enjoyed continuing popularity until it perished in the Dream­land fire.) Working with Johnson in 1898 Mangels was the first to adapt the Savage overhead trans­mission system to American manufacture. He estab­lished patents for his Galloping Horse Carousells which kept his competitors at a disadvantage for years. Later, Mangels was to invent the Tickler, the Whip, and a third-rail electric propulsion system for roller coasters and scenic railways, including the Feltman Brothers' Ziz, Mile a Minute. His most last­ing accomplishment may be his careful research in


writing the definitive history of The Outdoor Amuse­ment Industry, published in 1952 when Mangels was 85. William Mangels lived to the age of 92, leaving behind a nation of grateful and enlightened show­men.



When Feltman commissioned Mangels to rebuild his carousel at the dawn of the century, he obtained the services of a master woodcarver as well. Marcus Charles Illions, who is now remembered as the great­est of all the carousel carvers, was working with Mangels at the time. Illions was born in Russia, where he was apprenticed to a woodcarver as a young child. He ran away to Germany when he was only eight and eventually found his way to
England, where he carved roundabout figures and show carv­ings for Frederick Savage. When a consignment of wagons was not completed in time for its voyage to America, Frank C. Bostock induced Illions to ac­company him to finish the job. The Bostock family had operated a traveling menagerie in England since 1805, but this was to be the first venture to the New World with their exotic animals. The sailing ship bearing the cargo of curiosities set out for Boston and a most inauspicious landing. Bostock and the seventeen year old Illions were met by the great blizzard of 1888, a record storm that paralysed the entire Eastern seaboard. The motley caravan of half-carved wagons, half-frozen beasts and half-hearted men wound its way south to Coney Island and the promise of a brighter future.

Bostock's fortunes rose quickly with successful exhibitions and shrewd business dealing. In 1894 he brought to Coney Island the model for the first American traveling carnival, a collection of shows and rides based on the concept of the English fair. The assemblage included a gigantic portable switch­back, a track-type gondola carousel built by Savage. Bostock worked with Mangels and other manufactur­ers to apply the platform railway concept to less ponderous, more easily portable devices for traveling shows. Bostock later imported the novel, Savage-built Chanticleer roundabout which graced the lawn of George Tilyou's Steeplechase Park. The ride was mounted entirely with two-seated roosters and carried the labels "Four-abreast Bantams," "Galloping Chick­ens" and "Prodigious Poultry," among others. Bos­tock preferred to call them "those bloody cocks," a term born of frustration when the ship carrying his "Prize Cockerells" went to the bottom of the


North Sea. The resurrection of the wooden birds from their watery grave was a tribute to Bostock's resourcefulness and determination.

Bostock's flair with animals brought him wide­spread recognition in America. By 1900 he occupied the cover of the first weekly issue of The Billboard, decked out with a chestful of medals and billed as "The Animal King." In 1904 he installed his wild animal show in Dreamland Park as a permanent fea­ture, starring the one-armed wonder of the great steel cage, Captain Jack Bonavita and his twenty-seven jungle cats. Bostock had the incredible serendipity to sell his entire show, buildings, beasts, and Bonavita, in the winter of 1910, just a few months before the disastrous fire.

Illions' fortunes were less meteoric than Bostock's but his artistic accomplishments will gain for him a more lasting recognition. He formed a short-lived partnership with Theodore Hunger, a blacksmith who forged the machinery for his first carousels. In his shop on Dean Street during the 1890's Illions provided carvings on a free-lance or contract basis to other amusement manufacturers. He may have worked with Charles Looff, since one of his early horses somehow found its way into the company of the Looff chargers at Feltman's, surviving the fires to join its descendants on the Mangels machine. By about 1900 Illions had joined forces with the enter­prising Mangels to produce carousels of unprece­dented quality and beauty.


The combination of Feltman's promotion, Man­gel's ingenuity, and Illions' artistry was fated to pro­duce the most famous and most venerated merry-go-round ever created in
America. Every thing about the new Feltman ride was lavish, from the sumptuous rim to the animated organ. The horses demonstrated Illions' carving at its greatest, with stately, powerful poses and rich, bejeweled trappings resplendent with carved angels, eagles, lions, sphinxes, shields, drapery, buckles, tassels, and fringe. The trappings gleamed with gold leaf and intense colors. The effect was so dazzling that even the plainer Looff horses, redecor­ated after the fire and placed within two outer rows of new carvings, seemed to radiate an opulence that con­cealed their humbler origin. Another hidden vestige of the earlier machine was the provision of access panels and translucent jewels in Illions' stationary horses, perhaps in anticipation of more efficient elec­tric lamps. Whatever the original plan, the interiors

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