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Custom Handcrafted Red Oak Antique
Circus Collection Display Case

Handcrafted Furniture, built by Delnero Custom Furniture, Danube, NY

Built for Bruce Coombs, owner of Heritage Books

225 College Highway (Rt. 10), Southampton, MA

This project was 8 years in the making. Bruce Coombs owner of Heritage Books asked us to restore a valuable circus collection he had purchased. The entire collection was built by hand of 1/8" dowels, and was in need of serious repair. Bruce owns other businesses, and we built numerous pieces over the years for him, both pro­fessionally and personally. In the spring of 2000 he finally talked us into restoring the fully opera­tional Ferris wheel and 8 ornate circus wagons. We set up a room in our Southampton, Mass. home to start the repairs. It was soon apparent that the collection was is much worse shape than we thought. Due to a move from Southampton, MA to Danube, NY in 2001, there just wasn't time to proceed with repairs. There was no way we could take it with us in such frail condition.

Custom built out of solid red oak wood, this show case had many details and requirements that needed to be worked into the design. It was to sit in the entrance way of this beautiful old building (formally the Southampton Public Library) and there were dimension restraints. We needed to keep its footprint small enough to allow patrons to pass by and view from both sides as they entered the main room. The display case needed to be wired with AC to power DC transformers (in the base of the cabinet) that ran the Ferris Wheel drive motor, the Ferris Wheel lights, and the 8 display lamps. There were toggle switches that turned separate lights on, and one to run the Ferris wheel. All the panes were cut from 3/16" thick safty glass. There were locks on the two end doors.

During the restoration we discovered that the Ferris Wheel's lights were powered with AC current. The electricity ran up small wires in the columns and transferred the current to the inside of the wheel through solid copper seats that the solid copper shaft sat on. The problem was, that if someone touched these copper parts, they would be electrocuted. We were able to find DC bulbs to fit into the wooden sockets, and converted it over to a completely safe 9 volt DC system.

A shot of the 8 circus wagons displayed under light. Two wagons are visible from each side. Each wagon is completely different from the next.


In the fall of 2007 Bruce called us once again to resume where we left off. We asked our daughter Rebecca and then appren­tice, Justin Winters, if they wanted a "full time" part time job, and the restoration began. The wagons were in such bad shape that it took about a week just to figure out what pieces went where. It was truly a labor of love for the man who built this collection. There are thousands of dowels carefully glued together in each wagon.

A shot of the front wheels in dis-repair of this lion's cage wagon. The rims had been ripped off from the hubs, still attached to the axels. There was over 200 hours logged in the restoration of the entire collection.

After the wagons were completely refurbished, Becca carefully repainted them to the original colors.

A shot of the quick sketch that was generated during the initial 10 minute conversation with Bruce. The design concept usually goes through a few changes before finalized. Each step of the process usually adds some details that find their way to the finished piece.

Our first design would have displayed the individual pieces of the collection better, but it took up too much space, and was slightly over what Bruce wished to spend.

A drawing of the final design, with the exception of the scalloped edges. It was decided that a simpler design would be more in keeping with the trim work of the old Library. If you ever find yourself in Southampton, Mass. stop in to see this most unique collection.

Open Daily 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Closed Sundays
Evenings by Appointment

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