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Archive for January, 2013

This clip for AMC’s new reality show “Immortalized” introduces Coney Island artist Takeshi Yamada and his world of rogue taxidermy. It’s exciting to see our friend and his sea rabbit Seara, who are among the Boardwalk’s most recognizable eccentrics, on the cusp of TV stardom.

“People love freak show. People are attracted to freaks,” says Yamada as he shows off the taxidermied oddities in his Museum of World of Wonders. “I am one of the most famous freak show gaff masters. A freak show gaff master’s job is to make fake creations such as Fiji Mermaid, Chupacabra, Hairy Trout, those kind of things…”

In the unscripted series, Yamada is one of four “Immortalizers” who will face off against challengers in a taxidermy competition. “I had a great time creating truly monumental scale and spectacular rogue taxidermy monsters for this TV series,” Yamada told ATZ in an interview (“Coney Island Taxidermist Takeshi Yamada in AMC Reality Show,” Nov 29, 2012). “Immortalized” consists of eight, half-hour episodes and premieres on Thursday, February 14 at 10pm.

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 8, 2011: Takeshi Yamada’s Jersey Devil Set for Bell House Taxidermy Contest

December 7, 2010: Art of the Day: Freak Taxidermy Skull by Takeshi Yamada

September 18, 2010: Photo of the Day: Takeshi Yamada’s Freak Baby Museum at San Gennaro

September 24, 2009: Photo Album: Coney Islanders and Carnies at San Gennaro

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Tin Toy

La Boule Mysterieuse Tin Toy, 1906. Potter and Potter Auctions

Legend has it that circus contortionist Leon LeRoche took his inspiration for “La Boule Mysterieuse” from a popular gambling game that set up outside the show’s tent in Romania. After gamblers placed bets on one of several numbers, the showman let a ball roll from the top of a foot-high spiral, shouting as the ball made its way to the winning number. LaRoche’s legendary act, which was celebrated by this 1906 tin litho toy, had him scaling a 12-foot high spiral while inside a metal ball that rolled slowly and mysteriously upwards.

Boule Mysterieuse

La Boule Mysterieuse Tin Toy, 1906. Potter and Potter Auctions

“If it had not been evident that the idea of the trick had come to him from seeing the spiral of the Turkish showman, one would positively have believed the whole thing to be a miracle,” according to LaRoche’s story in the 1928 book Star Turns. The trick was regarded as “an unfathomable mystery, a sudden stroke of genius. Everywhere the agents arranged performances of the Man of Wonder with his troupe.” LaRoche doubled the height of the spiral to 24 feet and by the time he began touring with Barnum and Bailey in 1896, the track was 30 feet tall.

“Pull the string on the toy and it duplicates his feat,” says the catalogue description for the antique toy, which was made in Paris by Fernand Martin. On February 2nd “La Boule Mysterieuse” will be on the auction block at Potter & Potter in Chicago. The pre-sale estimate is $800-$1,000 and the online sale already has bids.

Serendipitously, Tin Mania in the U.K. also has one of these rarities for sale and made the delightful video below to publicize it. The price is 1,119 GBP (1,889 US Dollars)

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Related posts on ATZ…

December 22, 2012: ATZ Review: Legendarium at The Big Apple Circus

February 22, 2012: Rare & Vintage: 1930s Tin Litho Bumper Car Wind-Up Toy

July 13, 2011: Circus Portraits: Photography by Kevin C Downs

December 19, 2010: Rare & Vintage: Original Coney Island Motordrome Bike

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Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

It’s about time it snowed! In past years, ATZ has posted Bruce Handy’s first snow of the season photos in December and once in October during the weather event known as Snowtober. “I was on the beach near the water earlier about 5, when I felt the wind shift, all the seagulls took off, the snow front had arrived,” says the Coney Island resident and photographer, who took this series of photos on Friday night. His elongated shadow appears on the snowy boardwalk in the photo above.

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

On the roof of Paul’s Daughter, Papa Burger looks out at the sparkly boardwalk and the silent and motionless rides of Luna Park and Wonder Wheel Park. Luna Park’s colorful Balloon Expedition, seen below, looks like a sugar coated confection.

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

“The snowflakes were very light, very silvery, and it was not cold,” says Bruce Handy, who only saw one other person on his photowalk. “Timeless feeling when it snows, like a dream, you can imagine the rides running packed with people.”

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

The 12th Street side of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park is illuminated by vintage light fixtures made by amusement ride manufacturer William F. Mangels, whose factory was once on 8th Street in Coney Island. The park’s vintage kiddie fire engines and pony cart rides were made there.

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

“And as I’m walking, I’m having a future memory of how this spot will be in the future, the B&B Carousell music playing,” says Bruce Handy of this shot of the Parachute Jump and the new pavilion for the antique carousel, which will open this season. “When I’m in the falling snow, I lose all sense of time, could be years, could be seconds.”

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

Snowy midway in Wonder Wheel Park and wintry Cyclone! In just 56 days –March 24, 2013– the wheel will spin and the roller coaster will go for its first run of the season.

Coney Island: Winter's First Snow.

Coney Island: Winter’s First Snow. January 25, 2013. Photo © Bruce Handy via Coney Island Photo Diary

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Related posts on ATZ…

October 31, 2011: Photo Album: Snowtober in Coney Island by Bruce Handy

December 27, 2010: Photo of the Day: First Snow on Coney Island Boardwalk

February 26, 2010: Photo of the Day: Snow Mermaid on Coney Island Beach

December 20, 2009: Coney Island Photo of the Day: First Snow on the Cyclone

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