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Amusement park painted cast iron maquette of the Cuddle-Up ride Philadelphia Toboggan Company, Germantown, Philadelphia,  circa 1935

Department Specialist


Whitney Bounty
Creative Director

267.414.1254

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Published: 26 March 2015

The Whimsy & Wonder of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company

Freeman’s American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts Department is pleased to offer a collection of amusement park elements and memorabilia from the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in their upcoming 22 April auction. This colorful and unique collection descended through the Painted carousel elephant and drawing, Philadelphia Toboggan Company, circa 1940family of Mr. Samuel High III (1934-2011), President of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company from 1971 to 1991. His father, Samuel High Jr. was a major stockowner and corporate attorney for the company and his grandfather, Samuel High Sr. was corporate attorney and co-founded the Company with Henry Auchy and Chester Albright in 1904. The Philadelphia Toboggan Company originated as the Philadelphia Carousel Company, installing its first carousel in Chestnut Hill Park. Renowned for its exquisite and resplendent carousels, totaling ninety-four, the Philadelphia Carousel Company ceased their production in 1933, choosing instead to focus on roller coasters and amusement park rides. In 1991, the company changed its name to Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters and later in 2007 to Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, Inc. under the ownership of Tom Rebbie.

From a pair of carved "Lady Liberty" or "Columbia" carousel panels and a carved and painted carousel chariot side to a cast iron maquette of the "Cuddle-Up" ride and a full-size brass trimmed Coaster Car, highlights from the Carved and painted carousel chariot side or board,  Philadelphia Toboggan Company, Germantown, Philadelphia, PA, circa 1920 present collection represent various aspects of the amusement industry and span the Philadelphia Toboggan Company’s rich history.  These locally-made treasures recollect a bygone era where craftsmanship was cherished and pleasures were simple—where one could step onto a magical, rotating platform of glittering horses, mythical creatures and menagerie figures and let the real world whirl by.   What is more, they track a change in taste, capturing the moment when the fantasy and charm of the carousel was outdone by the thrill and intensity of the roller coaster.  

This collection will be presented alongside other whimsical, folk items, including an assortment of game boards and weathervanes, a carved and painted carnival head of an amusing gentleman, quilts, fish and duck decoys, to name but a few. From idyllic views of Reading, Pennsylvania and a Minguren I table by George Nakashima to the Captain Abraham Perry French & Indian War engraved powder horn, Freeman’s April 22nd American Furniture, Folk & Decorative Arts sale promises to be its own sort of cabinet of wonders— a diverse array of objects that will appeal to various fields of collecting and could possibly reignite your childlike state of wonder. 

View the "Cuddle-Up" in action

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