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Posts Tagged ‘eBay’

Old Doc's GameWe’re long accustomed to seeing antique carnival wheels, ball-toss figures and shooting gallery targets in the collectibles category on eBay. Ten years ago we wrote an article for Games Magazine titled “Step Right Up! Folk art collectors are snapping up vintage carnival games.” But this is the first time we’ve seen an entire vintage game being offered along with its vintage game booth—wooden stick joint, canvas and all—as historical memorabilia. Is “Old Doc’s Game” a museum piece or merely an obsolete piece of carnival equipment? You decide…

The photo of the vintage Duck Pond and canvas-and-stick joint transported me all the way back to the New England midways of my childhood. In the 1950s and early 1960s, my parents operated games with traveling carnivals and at fairs—Pitch Till U Win, Balloon Dart, Cover the Red, Slot Roll Down–you name it, we worked it. In those days we still had home-made wooden joints instead of custom-built concession trailers.

Stick joint textI can almost feel the heft of the lumber. As a little girl my first job was to carry the little wooden braces from Dad’s big red truck to the location where the joint was being set up. Each stick of lumber had to be laid out on the ground in a preordained manner. As Dad and our roughie hammered together the hinged pieces, I handed out the nails and sometimes got to drop one in. The canvas ballycloth in particular evokes tactile memories of helping set up the joint because snapping the ballycloth onto the front of the counter was the very last part of the job.

ducks in tank The Duck Pond for sale on eBay is described as Classic 1950s Americana. “Up until last year this game was at the fair making money for over 50 years,” says eBay seller “houseofmemories802,” who is based in Vermont. “All original, all hinged together and comes completely apart for easy storage. I have the canvas sides and top, the light fixture board, the breaker, the original metal stand that it sat on, the motor and pump and approximately 30 of the original ducks.”

When ATZ got in touch with the seller for info on the game’s provenance, we learned that he’d bought both the Duck Pond and a Cat Rack Game from “an old timer whose Dad was in the business forever.” He added, “Someone should really take these and keep them original as they are. I’m sure they just don’t make ‘em like this anymore. I have a feeling it might take some time on eBay because of the price, but then again it only takes one person.”

ducks textAlthough the price is indeed on the high side—$2,900 or best offer, I find it laudable that the seller is trying to preserve a piece of Vermont fair history. It’s sad when artifacts such as old carousels and old photo albums get broken up and sold piecemeal to collectors. When that happens, the items lose their historical context and become curiosities set adrift in the world. We’re pretty sure the kids who played Old Doc’s Game at the state fair will miss this gaggle of ducks.

cat rack The seller is also offering Old Doc’s Cat Rack, a ball game which is sometimes called a Punk or Doll Rack. The game includes 28 vintage punks, the original throwing balls, and the original stick joint and canvas tops and sidewalls. Says the seller, “This is the complete package as it’s been set up at the fair since the early 1900s.”

Update, December 3, 2011…

In 2009. ATZ wrote about this eBay auction of a complete cat rack as well as a duck pond, stick joints and all, which belonged to an old-timer whose father had been in the business forever. The seller tried to preserve these pieces of Vermont fair history and offered the games in their entirety for many months on eBay, but no buyers came forward. The dolls were (and some of them still are) being sold separately for $150-$175 and the antique stick joint is now available for a mere $249!

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eBay Find: The control panel of a one-of-a-kind ride from Neverland Ranch: Current Bid $46,100. Reserve Not Met

eBay Find: The control panel of a one-of-a-kind ride from Neverland Ranch: Current Bid $46,100. Reserve Not Met

Michael Jackson’s Dragon Wagon Kiddie Coaster was brought to Coney Island for the summer by Butler Amusements, but now there’s an opportunity to acquire a Neverland ride on a permanent basis. Last week carnival owner Earl “Butch” Butler told ATZ of his plans to put the bumper cars designed for and by Michael Jackson up for sale on eBay. The one-of-a-kind ride has been on our watch and wish list for the past few days. Butler says the auction has hundreds of watchers and generated inquiries from all over the world, including a bidder who wants to recreate Jackson’s amusement park.

The ride  includes a 20 foot long Neverland sign and fencing with Michael Jackson's logo

The ride includes a 20 foot long Neverland sign and fencing with Michael Jackson's logo

The popular interest in the Neverland rides since Jackson’s death is what got us dreaming about putting together a consortium of people to buy Jackson’s bumper cars for the People’s Playground. Where’d we put it? How about Steeplechase Plaza, where the City has plans to build a skateboard park? We think an amusement ride, especially one designed for and by the King of Pop, is a much better idea. It could be a gold mine for Coney Island. The celebrity ride would draw tourists to the amusement park. Its neighbors would be the iconic Parachute Jump and the restored B & B Carousell. Or maybe the ride could be situated on Joe Sitt’s property. After Sitt sells to the City, of course. His Stillwell lot, which is zoned for amusements, is currently being misused as a flea market. And we couldn’t afford Thor Equities skyhigh rent in the so-called Dreamland Park.

In fact, the bidding on the Neverland bumper cars –$46,100, Reserve Not Met– has climbed beyond our consortium’s budget. What is the reserve? Butler’s not saying. When I asked him today if it’s $1 million dollars, he said no. Perhaps it’s a dollar less or quite a bit more! We’re secretly dreaming Mayor Bloomberg will set a snipe and win the auction for the people of New York. Don’t worry, Mayor Mike: The user ID is kept private. Nobody will know you are the buyer except the seller. You can donate the ride to the City of New York, just as you did with the B & B Carousell. The auction ends on July 10 at 12:34:29 PDT.

Bumper car tent at Neverland Ranch. Butler Amusements bought 5 rides from Neverland, but only this one is for sale

Bumper car tent at Neverland Ranch. Butler Amusements bought 5 rides from Neverland, but only this one is for sale

From the auction description:

This is a large ride and comes with fence that goes around the ride which also has the picture of Michael Jackson’s logo. Another main part of this ride is the dominant opening sign that says Neverland which is approximately 20 feet long. This ride was designed especially for and by Michael Jackson by Majestic Manufacturing in 1992. Michael Jackson put in an amazing sound system along with black lights and disco balls. The ride comes with the 16 custom made bumper cars with Michael Jackson logo on them. The model is a MJ 2700 with a length of 96 feet 6 inches by a width of 44 feet 6 inches. The floor size is 32 feet by 84 feet, 2688 square feet. The pit size is 32 feet 3 inches by 84 feet 3 inches, 2717 square feet. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that no one should pass up. This piece would make any Michael Jackson collection the Greatest Michael Jackson collection.

Perhaps the bumper cars will be reunited with the original Zierer Wave Swinger ride from Neverland, which is also up for auction on eBay. That ride is owned by Helm & Sons Amusements of Colton, California. Starting bid is $850,000.

Michael Jackson's logo of little boy sitting on the moon is emblazoned on the bumper cars

Michael Jackson's logo of little boy sitting on the moon is emblazoned on the bumper cars

Update, December 26, 2011…

The Neverland Bumper cars were permanently installed at Cal Expo in Sacramento for which Butler Amusements provides the carnival for the California State fair. The other rides from Neverland Ranch–Lolli Swings, Jeeps, Dinos, Balloon Samba and Dragon Wagon– travel with the carnival’s different units, which play events in seven states in the West.

Neverland Bumper Cars

The Neverland Bumper Cars, owned by Butler Amusements, were first installed at Cal Expo for the California State Fair in July 2011. Photo courtesy of Butler Amusements.

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Related posts on ATZ…

November 5, 2009: Museum Piece or Obsolete? Old Carnival Games, Stick Joints on eBay

August 26, 2009: Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ride for Sale in Coney Island!

August 5, 2009: Coney Island Has 56 Rides and 33 More Days of Summer!

June 30, 2009: Calif. Carnival Sends Rides to Coney Island….Including One from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch

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