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Archive for the ‘Amusement Game’ Category

Pinto Bros Fire Truck

Pinto Bros Fire Truck, Coney Island. Rich Penn Auctions, May 3, 2014

Among the items being offered on Saturday at online auctions are a circa 1940s Pinto Brothers Fire Truck from a kiddie ride manufactured in Coney Island and an array of vintage arcade machines and carnival games. The Pinto Brothers were kiddie ride manufacturers in the 1940s and ’50s and like their better known contemporary William F Mangels, who also manufactured a popular fire engine ride, the Pinto family had a factory on West 8th Street. After the widening of the street for the New York Aquarium construction swallowed up their shop, they continued to manufacture ride parts for customers and operate rides including the Cyclone roller coaster. For more info on the Pinto Brothers, see “Rare & Vintage: Pinto Bros. Pony Cart from Coney Island,” ATZ, May 18, 2012.

Airplane Game

Detail of St. Louis Carnival Supply Airplane Game. VCA Auction

“Fly to Tokyo, Rome, Paris, London, India, Egypt, Hawaii, N. Pole, Berlin, New York – Colors Win Small Prizes.” This very tall airplane-themed carnival midway game caught our eye in the auction catalogue for Victorian Casino Antiques May 3rd sale. Made by St. Louis Carnival Supply, the game features a hand-painted wooden backboard and a metal plane and track. It calls to mind the Bumper Car Game, which my father worked with a roller skate that was pushed by players. Dad said it was designed as an alternative to gambling wheels after wheels were prevented from operating in many places.

The VCA auction has a selection of pinball games and arcade machines including this 1 Cent Supply Co. “How Can I Get What I Want” Grip Tester. Squeezing the handle of the circa 1944 machine provides a variety of answers: “Take A Chance, Get Lucky, Work Hard, Be Pigheaded, Grab It, Outsmart ‘Em, Be Greedy, Just Ask, Use Good Line.”

1 Cent Exhibit Supply Co

1 Cent Exhibit Supply Co. ‘How Can I Get What I Want.’ VCA Auction, May 3, 2014

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March 30, 2014: Spring Reading: “Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Machine”

February 5, 2014: National Pinball Museum Founder’s Vintage Games Up for Auction

December 6, 2013: Rare $25K “Punchy the Clown” Game Makes a Comeback

November 15, 2013: Modern Pinball NYC Opens with New Arcade Business Model

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Coney Island Skyline

First Tower of Luna Park’s New Thunderbolt Roller Coaster on the Coney Island Skyline. April 23, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

While Coney Island’s amusement parks are already open for fun in the sun on Saturdays and Sundays, these photos provide a glimpse of some of the new construction underway this month. Zamperla’s Thunderbolt roller coaster, which is set to debut on Memorial Day weekend, is rising on the skyline. In the above photo the first tower can be seen alongside the Parachute Jump, SkyCoaster, PTB Bar’s lighthouse and the Boardwalk’s ornamental lamp posts. Isn’t it a beautiful sight?

Here’s a rendering of how the steel coaster will look when completed. The $10 million dollar ride is Coney Island’s first custom-built coaster since the Cyclone debuted in 1927 and is named in honor of the demolished 1925 Thunderbolt.

Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Under Construction

Luna Park’s New Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Under Construction, Coney Island. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

Luna Park has also built new booths for water race, basketball and balloon games on the Boardwalk next to Scream Zone’s SkyCoaster. The stands will house the first games on the Boardwalk, which historically had arcades and games galore, since Shoot the Freak lost its lease in 2010.

Game booths Coney Island

New game booths under construction on the Boardwalk. April 5, 2014. Photo © Tricia Vita

On Friday, ATZ posted photos of two new mom & pop businesses under construction on Surf Avenue and also set to open in May. Lunatic Ice Cream will occupy the former Island Grocery and Luna Park Cafe is across the street from the Cyclone. Next to Stillwell Terminal, a new building is going up to house a Johnny Rockets franchise, but the “Coming Soon” sign may be overly optimistic considering the slow progress of construction at the site. Coming in 2014?

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April 25, 2014: Under Construction: New Mom & Pops Coming to Coney Island’s Surf Ave

March 10, 2014: High Hopes for Coney Island’s New Thunderbolt Coaster

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Automatic Pleasures by Nic Costa

Nic Costa’s classic Automatic Pleasures: The History of the Coin Op Machine is once again in print and as relevant as ever, considering the resurgence of pinball in bars and the popularity of a new Cupcake ATM on Lexington Avenue that had a line of people 12 to 15 deep on opening day. There’s also the nearly 10,000 slot machines at New York’s Aqueduct and Yonkers racetracks, a harbinger of many more to come with the legalization of casinos in New York State.

Gambling machines, the one armed bandit, penny arcades, fortunetelling machines, strength testers, shooting games, viewers, and vending and service machines are among the automatic entertainments covered in the book, which is illustrated with both black & white and color photos.

Did you know the first-ever vending machine was a coin-operated holy water dispenser invented by Hero of Alexandria nearly 2000 years ago? Costa writes that it wasn’t until the development of markets and a society based on paid labor that devices saving time were valued and produced in number.

The first coin freed patent was in 1857, for “A Self-Acting Machine for the Delivery of Postage and Receipt Stamps.” A penny inserted would automatically feed out a stamp from a roll. By the mid-1890s more than 1,000 patent applications for coin freed machines had been received by the U.K. Patent Office. Tellingly, many of the early machines could be used either as fortune tellers or games of chance. Games with automatic payouts of a cigar, a card or a token became increasingly popular on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1890s.

Automatic Pleasures by Nic Costa

In the U.K. in the first years of the 20th century, there was a spate of prosecutions against businesses, including saloons and shops, which had the automatic machines. The intent was to suppress “public corruption” and “juvenile depravity.” The enforcement of anti-gambling laws resulted in European manufacturers having to concentrate on games of skill with a low pay-out, which led to the later American domination of the world market.

Automatic Pleasures is enlivened by numerous excerpts from firsthand accounts of the era. Herbert Mills of Chicago’s Mills Novelty Company, once the world’s leading manufacturer of coin operated machines, writes about the Automatic Vaudeville or Penny Arcade business in the early 20th century:

The Penny Arcade has become a permanent institution as much as the theater, the opera, the circus, the concert, the lecture or the gymnasium, for it combines in a modified form of all of these and because it makes such universal appeal, particularly to the poorer classes, it is destined to grow constantly in popularity and size. Only about 10 per cent of the total population have an income of more than $1,200.00 per year, and therefore, the percentage of those who can afford a dollar for a concert ticket or two dollars for a theater ticket is very small. But everyone can patronize the Penny Vaudeville and afford ten cents for half an hours entertainment.

Automatic Pleasures: The History of The Coin Machine by Nic Costa, D’Aleman Publishing, 2013. Paperback, $32.42

Automatic Pleasures by Nic Costa

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February 5, 2014: National Pinball Museum Founder’s Vintage Games Up for Auction

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