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Archive for the ‘Artifacts’ Category

See-saw circus clown bicycle

See-saw circus clown bicycle from the David Metz Museum. Copake Antique & Classic Bicycle Auction. April 12, 2014

This homemade see-saw bicycle for a pair of circus clowns will be on the auction block at Saturday’s 23rd Annual Antique & Classic Bicycle Auction in Copake, New York. Here’s hoping unicyclist Keith Nelson, whose alter ego is the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus‘s Mr Pennygaff, buys it, so we can one day see it in action. The sale begins at 9:00 am with online bidding available via live auctioneers.

Among the 900 lots from museums and private collections are boneshakers, high wheels, adult tricycles, and early pneumatic safeties from the Metz Bicycle Museum of Freehold, New Jersey, which closed after the 97-year-old collector’s death last year. In addition to the see-saw bike, unusual bicycles from the museum include children’s bicycles, an ice bicycle and a pontoon bike from the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

On the day after the auction, Sunday, April 13th, a bicycle ride around Manhattan will celebrate the life of David Metz. According to the website of The Wheelmen, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping alive the heritage of American cycling: “This ride is open to all wheelmen and wheelwomen, all who are friends of the Metz Bicycle Museum or the Copake Bicycle Auction, and anyone else who was a friend to David. The ride will start from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in the Battery, NYC, at 10:00 AM.”

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December 10, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Original Coney Island Motordrome Bike

August 20, 2009: Q & A with Coney Island Boom A Ring Circus Star Justin Case

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Antique Coney Island Ride Tickets

Collection of antique tickets for Coney Island rides and amusements, early 1900s. Eclectibles at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair

Roller coasters have evolved since the days when the Switchback Railway and Loop the Loop occupied the block where the Cyclone is now, but as far as ride tickets, they don’t make ‘em like they used to. When the New York Antiquarian Book Fair opens today at the Park Avenue Armory, among the treasures for sale will be a collection of elaborately illustrated tickets from Coney Island rides and amusements of a century ago. The collection is being offered by Eclectibles (Booth A44) as part of a selection of New York ephemera. The tickets came equipped with strings for securing to a shirt or coat button and are wonderful souvenirs of old Coney Island.

The rides and attractions represented in Eclectibles collection include such long-vanished Surf Avenue thrillers as The Ben Hur Chariot Race (1908-1923) and the Rocky Road to Dublin (1907-1912) built by William F. Mangels, Jackman’s Shooting the Rapids (1898-1901) and Loop the Loop (1901-1910). The Star Double Toboggan Races (1904-1906), the world’s first two-track racing coaster, and the Red Devil Rider (1907-1923) are among the Bowery attractions. A number of L.A. Thompson’s Scenic Railway and Steeplechase Face tickets round out the collection of 14 tickets, which is priced at $3,500.

Die Cut Tag from Coney Island’s Bostock Arena in Dreamland circa 1904. Courtesy of eBay Seller monsonantiques

Considering that an especially rare ticket and advertising tag for Coney’s early attractions can sell for several hundred dollars on eBay, the price is fair. The last time ATZ wrote about one of these hard-to-find tickets was in 2011, when a die cut tag from Dreamland’s Bostock Arena was snapped up for nearly $400 in the last few seconds of an auction.

Currently on eBay, seller childhoodthings is offering a collection of Coney Island tickets, including Loop the Loop (“Heels up, Heads down”), the County Fair Musical Railway, L.A. Thompson Scenic Railway (“Ain’t It Lovely!”) and Steeplechase Park for $1,000.

Lopp the Loop Ticket

Loop the Loop Ticket, early 1900s. Via eBay seller childhoodthings

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February 21, 2014: Rare & Vintage: See Them Spinning Glass in the Sideshow

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March 22, 2011: Rare & Vintage: Souvenir of Frank Bostock’s Coney Island

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Muffler Man Restoration Project in Mortons Gap

Muffler Man Restoration Project in Mortons Gap, Kentucky. Photo by Joel Baker/US Giants

Thanks to girlie motorcycle blogger and Roadside Americana fan Fuzzy Galore, ATZ learned about the website “American Giants: A journal of my muffler men travels and findings.” Videographer Joel Baker and his crew have been traveling the country documenting the roadside giants known as “Muffler Men.” In Episode #4, our favorite, they visit Peoria’s UniRoyal Girl, the female version of the Muffler Man, and the Launching Pad Restaurant’s Gemini Giant, a twin to the long lost Astroman of Coney Island’s Astroland.

Now Baker is asking for help via Kickstarter to restore a headless, armless Paul Bunyan in rural Kentucky. We have a soft spot in our hearts for the fiberglass figures which date back to the 1960s and ’70s and were a common sight during our travels with the carnival but currently number less than 200. There’s something poignant about a collective effort to make this roadside character whole again.

In addition to cowboys, Indians, pirates, astronauts, and other variations, International Fiberglass also produced a 14 foot tall Paul Bunyan statue. It is not known how many of these were made but there are only about 15 of them known to still exist. This statue in Mortons Gap is an example of this model. However, it is in very poor condition.

You can help preserve this unique piece of Americana by supporting this Kickstarter campaign. Your contributions will raise the money needed to reproduce the statue’s original head, arms and axe. The statue will also be refurbished and repainted. This restoration project will be documented in an American Giants’ video episode.

The campaign has raised $976 of a $4,500 goal, but Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding model. The project must be fully funded by April 20th for the Muffler Man to be restored. Why not contribute in memory of Astroland’s Astroman? Thank you gifts include a time capsule message ($10 or more), American Giants T-shirt ($35 or more), and a reproduction of a 1970 International Fiberglass Catalogue featuring all the Muffler Men and other statues ($100 or more).

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