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 largest 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.
Scope of Collection
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.