Spotlight Collection

The Allan Herschell Ride Archive

This month, New York Heritage Digital Collections proudly spotlights the Allan Herschell Ride Archive from the Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier's Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum.

From the collection description:

The Allan Herschell companies were major employers in the Tonawandas from 1872-1960, and in Buffalo from 1960-1970. The Armitage Herschell Company began in 1883 as an iron foundry, manufacturing such products as corn huskers, street drains, and boilers. Because they were already manufacturing steam boilers, Allan Herschell convinced his partner, James Armitage, to begin to manufacture hand-carved wooden carousels in 1883. The carousels would be propelled by means of the steam boiler. Around the turn of the 19th century, the Armitage Herschell Company was manufacturing a carousel a day, sending them to all parts of the world, including India and Tahiti.

In 1903 the company filed bankruptcy, and the assets were sold to Allan Herschell and his brother-in-law, Ed Spillman. The Herschell-Spillman Company continued until 1926 manufacturing carousels, engines, and amusement rides of all kinds, becoming the world's largets manufacturer of rides. In 1915, Allan Herschell left this company to create the Allan Herschell Company which eventually bought out the Herschell-Spillman Company, joining the two operations. In 1960, Chance Manufacturing of Wichita, Kansas, bought the company and moved it to Kansas.

Chance Manufacturing put the remaining assets of the Allan Herschell Company up for auction in 1998. The Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier, operator of the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, was successful in purchasing these assets and returned them to North Tonawanda.

This digital collection consists of seventeen catalogs, one supplement, and one special insert featuring many different Allan Herschell amusement rides and associated parts. Of note are two versions of the Allan Herschell Company Catalog 02, one in English and one in Spanish. Although these catalogs are undated individually, they were all published sometime between 1915 and 1970.

About the repository

(from the website)

The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, operated by the Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier, is a premier national historic site and community resource for family recreation and learning that fosters an appreciation for the unique heritage of the carousel and related industries in the Niagara Region.

Through a rich and exciting collection of rides, period equipment and ephemera, the Museum interprets and presents the development of the Herschell companies and changes in the American amusement industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Visitors explore the art, science, math, music and social history of the early American amusement industry, from carrousels to coasters. Through exhibits, tours, and a variety of educational programming the museum helps visitors experience this fun and fascinating part of the past.


The Carousel Society of the Niagara Frontier is a member of the Western New York Library Resources Council, a member of the Empire State Library Network.