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Posts Tagged ‘shooting gallery target’

Coney Island shooting gallery target

Cast Iron Paratrooper Shooting Gallery Target. Made by W.F. Mangels Co., Coney Island, NY. Morphy Auctions

This rare and delightful cast iron shooting gallery target made by Coney Island’s William F. Mangels is on the auction block at Morphy Auctions. The April 20-21 sale is in central Pennsylvania with online bidding via Live Auctioneers.

The catalogue description says “Made by W.F. Mangels Co., Coney Island, New York. Professionally made mounting stand. Two piece casting. Minor crack on the head of the parachutist. Superb surface and paint. Rare carnival shooting target. Condition (Excellent). Size 18″ T. Estimate: $2,000 – $2,500.”

William F. Mangels, the Coney Island-based inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, also held the most patents on shooting gallery targets. From the early 1900s until 1969, well after other manufacturers had gone out of business, Mangels’ Coney Island shop turned out cast-iron and sheet-metal targets in the shape of birds and beasts, stars and moons, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and paratroopers.

The target also evokes memories of riders on Coney Island’s landmark Parachute Jump, which closed in 1964. Originally designed by retired Naval commander James Hale Strong to train military paratroopers in the 1930s, parachute towers were modified into amusement attractions when civilians clamored to ride. Coney Island’s Parachute Jump first wowed visitors at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair. Afterwards, the ride became the star attraction at Steeplechase Park.

Update: The price realized for the target was $1,020.

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ring toss figures

Ring toss figures, circa 1935. Cornette de Saint-Cyr Auction of Fabienne & François Marchal Collection of European Carousel and Fairground Art

I used to work a Pitch Till U Win, but it didn’t have the character of the hand-carved and painted ring toss pictured above. Featuring caricatures of a gendarme, sailor, artistocrat and grouchy old lady, the game is equipped with a mechanical device that makes the legs of the figures come to life in an eccentric dance. With a pre-sale estimate of 12000-15000 euros ($16,257-$20,321), this antique game is beyond my budget, but it’s fun to window shop. The ring toss is part of a magnificent collection of fairground art, including rare carousel figures, decorative items and games on the block at the Paris auction house Cornette de Saint-Cyr. Collected, researched and restored over a 40-year period, the Fabienne and François Marchal Collection of European Carousel and Fairground Art will be sold in three sessions on September 28 and 29.

Prussian ball toss game

Ball toss game with Prussian soldier, circa 1910. Cornette de Saint-Cyr Auction of Fabienne & François Marchal Collection of European Carousel and Fairground Art

As a carny kid who grew up working the Pitch Till U Win, Slot Roll Down and Bumper Joint, which have since disappeared from the American midway, I have an abiding interest in vintage carnival games. In the early 1980s, an elite group of dealers began exhibiting primitive carnival wheels, ball-toss figures and shooting gallery targets at the fall antiques show in New York. Viewing these exhibits, I felt pleased and proud that these midway games created by unknown artisans had been transformed into much-admired folk objects. The high prices shocked my frugal mother, who first went on the road during the Great Depression of the 1930s. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, successful concessionaires were adept at building their own games, freely borrowing ideas from the fellow down the midway and the catalogs of supply houses catering to the carnival trade. My mother, who grew up speaking French, would have appreciated these hand-crafted French fairground games.

Shooting gallery target

Shooting gallery target, car travels along roller coaster track, early 20th century. Cornette de Saint-Cyr Auction of Fabienne & François Marchal Collection of European Carousel and Fairground Art

In regard to the history of his fairground art collection, François Marchal writes at length in an essay in the auction catalog. I dusted off my high school French and attempted a translation with the help of Google: “Apart from some oral testimony, the sources of information were very rare. If the history of the carnival was known, the objects, rides, games and decorations seemed to have escaped any investigation. In a way this was our good fortune. A promising field of exploration was thus offered to us. In the years after World War II, bulky outdated equipment was no longer of interest to anyone. This accelerated the dismantling of lavish rides inherited from the Belle Epoque.”

“The most amazing games invented for taking a break and enjoying oneself were abandoned and left to rot in squalid sheds,” Marchal recalls. “We were able to collect numerous pieces for next to nothing. It is true that these pieces were often faded and decrepit, sometimes ruined. So we gradually learned to restore them, Fabienne working more on the structure and me on the polychromy.”

Porte de tir à surprise

Porte de tir à surprise, Au Beau Tambour des Zouaves. Cornette de Saint-Cyr Auction of Fabienne & François Marchal Collection of European Carousel and Fairground Art

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19th century Mangels mechanical shooting gallery

This late 19th century Mangels mechanical shooting gallery owned by Doris Duke and installed at Duke Farms sold at auction last summer for $43,200. Photo via Millea Bros Ltd

William F. Mangels, the Coney Island-based inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, also held the most patents on shooting gallery targets. From the early 1900s until 1969, well after other manufacturers had gone out of business, Mangels’ Coney Island shop turned out cast-iron and sheet-metal targets in the shape of birds and beasts, stars and moons, cowboys and Indians, and soldiers and torpedo boats.

In the early 1900s, shooting gallery operators could select from 25 different kinds of targets for “The Slide” –a chain slide mechanism– all for a dollar a piece. Ducks with moving wings could be purchased for an extra fifty cents! Today, collectors are willing to pay $200 to $1,000 per target, depending on the condition and rarity of the figure. Last June, an intact Mangels mechanical shooting gallery installed at Duke Farms and used by heiress Doris Duke during parties at her home sold at auction for $43,200! It featured a moving clown, ducks, squirrels, birds, stars and circular spinning targets. The late 19th century shooting gallery was stamped “W.F.M. Co. 389″ and bears the characteristic plaque “Made by W.F. Mangels Co. – Coney Island – New York.”

ATZ can’t let February go by without honoring the memory of this amusement industry innovator’s birth. Born February 1, 1867, Mangels was best known as a developer and supplier of amusement rides and the mechanisms for carousels and roller coasters After he died on February 11, 1958 at age 92, his family carried on the business for another decade. The Coney Island History Project inducted Mangels into the Coney Island Hall of Fame and some of his kiddie rides can still be enjoyed by visitors to Coney Island’s Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. Keep an eye out for the rides that bear the Mangels plaque.

Mangels Pony Cart Ride

Mangels Pony Cart Ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, Coney Island. The Mangels plaque can be seen to the left of the numeral 8. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

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