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Archive for the ‘Artifacts’ Category

Nieman Eisman Banner

Monkey Scooter Banner by Nieman Eisman, Circa 1930s. Mosby & Co Auctions, May 16, 2015.

We’ve seen quite a few banners of carnival monkeys driving tiny race cars in Monkey Speedways, but never a monkey on a scooter. Considering the current popularity of scooters, this delightful banner could attract some competitive bidding when it goes on the auction block on Saturday.

The painting by Nieman Eisman, a master of the Chicago style of banner painting from the 1920s through the mid-1950s, is one of several carnival canvases in Mosby & Company’s Auction on May 17th. The pre-sale estimate of the giant-sized advertisement –it is approximately 6 feet tall by 9 feet wide–is $2,500 – $3,500. The catalogue is online and one can bid now or in real time during the auction.

Nieman Eisman Banner

Hollywood Movie Star Banner by Nieman Eisman, Circa 1930s. Mosby & Co Auctions, May 16, 2015.

A second Eisman banner titled Hollywood Movie Star shows two tuxedoed monkeys at a fancy restaurant. Banners by both Fred Johnson and Johnny Meah featuring Otis Jordan, “The Frog Boy,” who worked at Coney Island USA’s Sideshows by the Seashore in his later years, are also among the desirable banners in Saturday’s sale.

Related posts on ATZ…

November 24, 2014: Up for Auction: Vintage Sideshow Banners & Carnival Curiosities

March 19, 2014: Memoirs of a Carny Kid: Monkeys on the Midway

November 23, 2013: More Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

November 7, 2013: Photos from the Glory Days of the Sideshow Banner

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Punch A Bag Arcade Game

Early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

How strong is your punch? Coney Island Arcade‘s Boxer, a popular punching bag arcade game, can be found throughout Coney Island during the season. The mechanical punching bag, in which players compete for the highest score, dates back to a strength tester introduced at penny arcades more than a century ago. Antique dealer Urban Country is offering this antique Punch-A-Bag arcade game manufactured in the early 1900s by the International Mutoscope Reel Company Inc. of Long Island City.

punch-a-bag game

Detail of early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

Originally formed to produce Mutoscope machines, which contained “peep show” movies with a viewing time of about a minute, the company went on to produce a variety of coin-op amusement devices.

According to the International Arcade Museum, other machines made by International Mutoscope Corp. during the time period Punch-A-Bag was produced include Uncle Sam, Grandmother’s Predictions, Mystic Mirror fortuneteller, Mutoscope Puncher, and Voice-O-Graph aka Record Your Voice.

punch-a-bag arcade game

Detail of early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

While the cast iron and wood machine with original paint pictured in these photos is said by Urban Country to be “on hold,” similar models are being offered here and here and here on eBay for $4,800-$5,900 or best offer. All appear to be in need of restoration before you can drop a nickel in the slot and play the game.

arcade punch-a-bag game

Early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

Related posts on ATZ…

March 28, 2014: Up for Auction: Bimbo Baby Automaton Arcade Machine

January 28, 2013: Rare & Vintage: 1906 “La Boule Mysterieuse” Circus Toy

January 5, 2013: Saturday Matinee: A Peep Show on the Mutoscope Machine

April 13, 2011: Coney Island Arcade Debuts Cobra, Braves Loss of Arcade

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Step Right UpAfter Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island got lucky when a rare vintage 1940’s Mangels shooting gallery from Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park was brought out of storage, restored, and installed at Coney Island USA’s Surf Avenue storefront. As far as we know, it’s the only one of its kind in operation that is open to the public. Since many shooting galleries were sold for scrap iron during World Wars I and II, you’re more likely to come across cast-iron and sheet-metal targets in the shape of birds and beasts, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and torpedo boats in folk art collections than as a game in an amusement park.

Richard and Valerie Tucker’s passion for collecting figural cast iron began in the`early 1980s with the acquisition of a row of doves from a William F. Mangels’ gallery manufactured in Coney Island. Thirty years later, they own hundreds of shooting gallery targets from a variety of manufacturers. Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms is a sumptuous coffee table art book with more than 225 color images of American and European targets along with a sampling of carnival banners, signs and game pieces. As the first and only book on the subject, the volume is valuable to collectors and of special interest to fans of carnival art and antiques.

In addition to Mangels, the 144-page book has chapters on C.W. Parker of Kansas, William Wurfflein of Philadelphia, the John T. Dickman Company of Los Angeles and Chicago manufacturers Evans, Hoffmann, Mueller, and Smith, as well as miscellaneous targets and a few European targets. Essays by specialists on the manufacturers supplement illustrations from the Tuckers’ archive of catalogs, trade cards and other ephemera which are a great resource since the majority of targets have no trade marks.

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Card Suits by WF Mangels. Private Collection. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

One of our favorite target makers is C.W. Parker, who started out as a shooting gallery operator and soon got into the business of supplying traveling carnivals with a wide variety of attractions. Parker had a showman’s flair for borrowing design ideas from his fellow manufacturers and fashioning them into commercially successful shooting galleries and carousels.

No complete Parker galleries are known to exist or even to have been photographed, says Bob Goldsack, a Parker historian who wrote the book’s chapter on the self-proclaimed “Carnival King.” Parker’s highly detailed and mechanized targets included owls and eagles with flapping wings, whippets chasing rabbits, and the now politically incorrect circus animals, Indians, and Lincolnesque figure holding a sign that says “Hit Me” in a gallery advertised as “A New Political Shooting Gallery.”

A lecture and book signing by the authors will be held at the American Folk Art Museum, 2 Lincoln Square, Columbus Ave at 66th St, in Manhattan, on December 18 at 6pm. Admission is free of charge.

Step Right Up! Classic American Target and Arcade Forms by Richard and Valerie Tucker. Schiffer Publishing, 2014. Hardcover, $45

Step Right Up! Richard and Valerie Tucker

Indian by CW Parker. Photo: Kimberly Gavin/Kimberly Gavin Photography

Related posts on ATZ…

September 5, 2013: Photo of the Day: Restored WF Mangels Shooting Gallery

February 28, 2013: Coney Island Shooting Gallery from 1940s Makes Comeback

September 28, 2011: Rare & Vintage: Auction of French Fairground Art

February 25, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

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Monkey Speedway Banner

Monkey Speedway Banner “The Race” by Sigler Studios, circa 1950s. 248″ x 96″. Mosby & Co Auctions, November 29, 2014.

Vintage monkey speedway banners by Sigler Studios, sideshow banners by Fred Johnson, and shrunken head and mummy gaffs by Homer Tate are among the midway artifacts up for auction at Mosby & Co. Auctions’ November 29th live and online sale. A selection of carnival games that have disappeared from the midway will also be in the sale. The catalogue is online and one can bid now or in real time during the auction.

“The Monkey Speedway ‘The Start’ and ‘The Race’ are the two best Sigler banners we have ever handled,” said Mosby’s owner Keith Spurgeon, who noted that it was probably painted by Jack Sigler Sr. The banners drew people over to a midway attraction that was popular on carnivals through the 1950s and 60s. Trained monkeys in little metal cars raced around a wooden track while customers (more…)

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This weekend is your last chance to dance with the life-size dancing doll “Miss Coney Island” and enjoy the miniature animated rides of “Coney Island Always” before they close for the year. These independently owned amusements cost only 25 cents each and are located on West 12th Street off the Boardwalk, beneath Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park.

When ATZ “interviewed” Miss Coney after she moved from Jones Walk in 2012, it was revealed that in a past life she was an Indian princess automaton at Connecticut’s Great Danbury Fair. Though you’d never guess it after her glam makeover, this doll dates back to the 1930s. The shimmying mannequin is a magnet for visiting divas. Catch her at 2:20 in Beyonce’s music vid XO and with Rita Ora in a fashion shoot for Vibe Magazine. Miss Coney Island’s taglines on twitter are “Don’t Postpone Joy” and “25 cents to fall in LOVE.” (more…)

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Grandma's Predictions

Grandma’s Predictions, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. May 12, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita via flickr

Happy Mother’s Day to Coney Island’s Grandma’s Predictions! The rare circa 1923 fortune teller returned to her home under the 1920 Wonder Wheel on Mother’s Day 2013 after several months in arcade restorer Bob Yorburg’s workshop. Her inner workings had been destroyed by floodwater from Sandy. Grandma got eye surgery as well as a new wig, dress and wax hands cast from the original mold, and a fine new cabinet. Visit Grandma and get your prediction — only 50 cents.

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Related posts on ATZ…

March 28, 2014: Up for Auction: Bimbo Baby Automaton Arcade Machine

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

January 28, 2013: Rare & Vintage: 1906 “La Boule Mysterieuse” Circus Toy

April 27, 2012: The Dancing Doll “Miss Coney Island” Speaks

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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.”

Related posts on ATZ…

March 14, 2014: Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Celebrates 20th Anniversary

November 11, 2013: After 80 Years in Popcorn Biz, Family’s Heirloom Wagons Up for Sale

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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