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Rare Carousel Jumping Horse Illions Derby Racer by Marcus Charles Illions



This extremely rare example of an American Derby carved by Marcus Charles Illions (1871-1949), Coney Island, NY, has been certified by a historian and carousel curator from the United States of America. He confirmed that there were very few Derby carousels sculpted by Illions and that he only knew of two existing examples, one in Blackpool England and the other in Rye Playland New York USA. The M.C. Illions Derby Racer Horse is very rare and sought after because few were made and survived for sale. This piece was previously owned by an old French family and an experienced art collector, the horse had been from a Chateau in Oise, northern France. In the era of industrialization, mechanical ingenuity was also applied to the emerging entertainment industries, such as the carousel. Although mechanized carousels were introduced to America in the 1860s, it was only thanks to the innovation that allowed horses to get on and off, patented by Coney Island maker William F. Mangels, that the industry has been revolutionized. Mangoes did not make the horses themselves, but employed talented carvers, including a number of Jewish immigrant wood carvers from Eastern Europe. Marcus Charles Illions was one of the key figures on this transatlantic artistic crossing. . Illions, born in Lithuania fled his homeland to England, where he perfected his sculpting skills, and immigrated to the United States in the 1880s to finally create his own shop and carousels as many sculptors including Marcus Charles Illions was the most famous. Mr. Illions immigrated to America as a skilled sculptor of Jewish Folk Art. In New York, he encountered a city with too few synagogues in need of ornamentation and a culture that valued what a man could produce more than the reason for its production. He worked on Holy Ark carvings for shuls, as well as the merry-go-round animals for some carousels. The men behind Coney Island's entertainment, in particular, were not concerned with the religious symbolism of Mr. Illion's dazzling life-size animal sculptures. In need of work, and now, with a new outlet for him, Mr. Illions unleashed his adept sculpture and his creative design on American carousels. This is an immigrant story of one of the greatest sculptors of this Folk Art who also carved the largest carousel animals the world has seen. The New York Times referred to him as “the Michelangelo of carousel carvers” and Rabbi Heschel says, "Judaism reminds us that joy is a way to God." Do a mitzvah for discouraged and anxious existentialists. Take them to Surf Avenue and place them on the carousel.


  • Creator
    Marcus Charles Illions 1 (Artist)
  • Dimensions
    Height: 50.01 in. (127 cm)Width: 75.2 in. (191 cm)Depth: 17.72 in. (45 cm)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
  • Condition
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Seller Location
    Paris, FR
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU4817218665112

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Estimated Customs Duties & Taxes to the Continental US: $0.
    Ships From: Paris, France
  • Return Policy

    A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery.

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About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in Paris, France
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Established in 2017
1stDibs seller since 2019
33 sales on 1stDibs
Typical response time: 2 hours
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