Archive for the ‘Carnival Games’ Category

Dunk Tank Clowns

Still from ‘Dunk Tank Clowns,’ a documentary by Daniel McGuire

Daniel McGuire’s documentary short ‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ premieres this weekend at Boston’s Independent Film Festival. “I’m too old for this. I’m glad you came here,” says seasoned clown Kenny Dickman in the trailer. “I’m on my first annual retirement tour. We’re politically incorrect.”

So true. Have you noticed the bozos have disappeared from Coney Island as well as New York City’s street fairs? In 2011, Drown the Clown, which we last photographed in 2009, was banished from Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro for being “too raucous” in the increasingly gentrified neighborhood. In Coney Island, the last photos we took were before the Coney Island Rezoning of 2009, which made way for restaurants, retail and condominium development.

Insulting people for a living isn’t as easy as it looks, according to the film’s synopsis. The documentary offers an inside look at the profession by longtime carnival bozos Terry Leonard and Tom Miller, who are seen working fairs in Massachusetts, and Dickman, whose territory is Pennyslvania and was with S & S Amusements the season that we toured with the show. Carnival days!

‘Dunk Tank Clowns’ screens at the Somerville Theatre on Saturday at 10:00pm and Monday at 7:15pm.

Related posts on ATZ…

December 1, 2014: Autumn Reading: Ward Hall – King of the Sideshow!

September 17, 2014: ATZ’s Top 10 Coney Island Film Festival Picks

October 6, 2013: Video of the Day: The Down Home Daredevils

December 8, 2012: Sunday Matinee: Princess Rajah’s Chair Dance (1904)

Read Full Post »

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…)

Read Full Post »

Mangels Shooting Gallery

Mangels Shooting Gallery from Wonder Wheel Park Being Restored by Coney Island USA on Surf Ave. May 12, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Welcome back William F. Mangels and hooray for ScareFactory! Two more shooting galleries are debuting in Coney Island this season as replacements for establishments damaged by flooding from Superstorm Sandy. On Sunday, the circa 1940s Mangels shooting gallery seen above, which hasn’t been used in decades and was hidden behind the Scarface Shooting Gallery under Deno’s Wonder Wheel, was being restored by Coney Island USA in view of passersby. On loan from Wonder Wheel Park’s Vourderis family, the gallery has been installed in the Surf Avenue storefront formerly occupied by Denny’s Ice Cream, which was also destroyed by Sandy. CIUSA’s Dick Zigun told ATZ that the refurbished shooting gallery is expected to open sometime in July.

Mangels Shooting Gallery

1970s Photo of Shooting Gallery Under the Wonder Wheel Made by W.F. Mangels Co., Coney Island. Photograph © 1975 by Charles Denson

The shooting gallery has cast-iron targets in the shape of soldiers, paratroopers and torpedo boats. It was manufactured in Coney Island by William F. Mangels, the inventor of such early 20th century thrill rides as the Whip and the Tickler, and the builder of the mechanism for the B & B Carousell. We haven’t seen one of these old-time galleries in operation anywhere for many seasons. What’s more, intact Mangels shooting galleries are exceptionally rare since most were long ago sold for scrap metal or broken up by antique dealers. Earlier this month a Mangels cast-iron gallery with over 150 targets from the Elli Buk Collection sold at auction for $60,000 after competitive bidding.

Meanwhile, at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park, a haunted parlor-themed shooting gallery with animated targets made by ScareFactory has replaced the flood-damaged Scarface gallery and is already a hit with customers. Players have 45 seconds or 18 shots to shoot the light beam targets that when hit reveal ghosts and ghouls dropping from the ceiling or popping out of the furnishings in the fortuneteller’s parlor. It’s fun to watch as well as play. When we first tried it and hit one of the portraits on the wall, it swung out and an air cannon went off, evoking surprise and laughter from the crowd.

In 2010, ATZ wrote a requiem for the Henderson Building’s Shoot out the Star, which had operated for more than 20 years and was one of Coney’s few year-round amusement businesses. The same year, the famed paintball game Shoot the Freak was bulldozed on the Boardwalk. This season, new versions of the games by different operators are making a comeback on Coney Island’s Bowery. A talker will call you in to “Shoot the Clown,” instead of the Freak. The game is located near the corner of West 12th Street and replaces a Derby Racer destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. You can Shoot out the Star in a trailer across the way.

Shoot the Clown

Shoot the Clown on Coney Island’s Bowery. March 31, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i


Related posts on ATZ…

April 2, 2013: Shoot the Freak Reborn in Coney Island as Shoot the Clown

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

October 28, 2010: Photo Album: Requiem for Coney Island’s Shoot Out the Star

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

Read Full Post »

Carnival Scale

‘Fool the Mad Genius’ Carnival Scale. Image Courtesy of Skinner, Inc. Marlborough, Mass.

In the carnival business, the Fool the Guesser concession used to be known as “Age and Scales” and every midway had one. My mother and her first husband worked it for a spell in the 1940s. They had a sit-down scale similar to the beauty pictured above and for years afterward it remained a fixture in the barn at our winter quarters. “We’d guess their name, age, weight, shoe size, their mother’s name, their husband’s name,” Mom would tell me. “You name it, we guessed it.”

The season that stood out was the time they gave away name-brand, gift-boxed chocolates as prizes and everyone who played won a prize. Mom said they got a truckload for practically nothing because the boxes were cellophane wrapped with best wishes for the holiday, which they carefully removed. Was the holiday Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day? I’d have to go back and check the transcripts of the oral history interviews with Mom. But I clearly remember my mother saying there was nothing wrong with the chocolates. The biggest problem was giving away all of the prizes before they melted in the summer sun!

On June 2nd, Skinner is auctioning this rare example of a vintage carnival scale along with the original hand-painted sign used by the operator. The catalogue description for Lot 134 reads:

“Fool the Mad Genius” Carnival Scale, America, 20th century, wooden tripod stand supporting an oak armchair and 21-in. dia. silvered brass scale marked Frederick C. Allen, Los Angeles and calibrated 0-400 hundred pounds, together with a painted sign where the “Mad Genius” challenges participants that he can guess their weight, their age, how many cigarettes they smoke, number of family members and the age of their car, ht. 102 in.

Saturday’s live auction will be held at Skinner in Marlborough, Mass. Absentee, phone and online bidding are also available on the day of the sale.

UPDATE June 3, 2012:

The price realized for the carnival scale and sign was $4250.00.


Related posts on ATZ…

April 10, 2012: Up for Auction: Collection of Carnival Knockdown Dolls

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

March 9, 2011: Inexhaustible Cows & Bottomless Cups of Chocolate Milk

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

Read Full Post »

Prize at Coney Island

Prize at Game on 12th St, Coney Island. April 8, 2012. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

This white tiger is one of the big prizes at the row of new games on West 12th Street under the Wonder Wheel!

Related posts on ATZ…

December 2, 2011: Photo of the Day: Children’s Eye-View of Coney Island

August 8, 2011: Photo of the Day: Across the Street from the Cyclone

June 30, 2011: Photo of the Day: Mermaid Avenue at Dusk

May 3, 2011: Photo of the Day: Street Art by RAE in Coney Island

Read Full Post »

wooden knockdown clown head

Painted wooden knockdown clown head with fabric dress. The Ron Rakaseder Collection of American Arcade & Carnival Memorabilia Auction Sale, April 15th - 21st, 2012. Boyd Auctions

The Americana collector Ron Rakaseder had a passion for carnival knockdown dolls and wooden ball toss figures from the late 19th and early to mid 20th centuries. Once featured on the PBS program “Find!” with the Keno brothers of “Antiques Roadshow,” the Ron Rakaseder Collection of American Arcade & Carnival Memorabilia is now up for auction in an online sale that runs from April 15 through April 21. Boyd Auctions’ illustrated catalogue of more than 100 lots is already online.

We’re fond of hand-painted punks and targets, which conjure up memories of a now vanished time when homemade games were still in play. Auctions of this type of material typically catch our eye, yet we’ve never seen such an array of different styles and kinds of punks. Some of the rarest items are historical artifacts that would be considered politically incorrect or offensive by today’s standards. The Rakaseder collection encompasses not only whimsical cats and dolls, but hostile depictions of Hitler and Hirohito, and racial or ethnic caricatures.

Large carnival cat

Howard the Coward, Large Carnival Cat., painted canvas on wood. The Ron Rakaseder Collection of American Arcade & Carnival Memorabilia Auction Sale, April 15th - 21st, 2012. Boyd Auctions

The earliest dolls are carved wooden heads with fabric dresses while the later ones are hand-painted canvas filled with sawdust or straw and edged with lamb’s wool. Some of the lots are signed by the doll maker: A. Kuntz of Leonia, New Jersey; Cooke of Jersey City and Adams of Philadelphia. Other highlights of the sale are “Hit the Dodger” and “Look Who’s Here” knockdown carnival games with black face targets; a complete milk bottle game with “Dr. Nut” crate, two balls, 4 stone bottles and 2 metal bottles; carved and painted wooden heads; and vintage throwing balls stitched together like baseballs or made from wrapped string.

The auction will be held online at www.boydauctions.com from April 15th until April 21st, 2012. This will be the first online auction held by Boyd Auctions of Eliot, Maine.

Knockdown heads politically incorrect

Knockdown heads, politically incorrect satire, painted canvas on wooden bases. The Ron Rakaseder Collection of American Arcade & Carnival Memorabilia Auction Sale, April 15th - 21st, 2012. Boyd Auctions


Related posts on ATZ…

March 23, 2012: Up for Auction: Coney Island Parachutist Shooting Gallery Target

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

November 11, 2011: Up for Auction: Rack of Vintage Carnival Knockdown Dolls

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

Read Full Post »


Carnival Knockdown Dolls. Slotin Folk Art Who's Who in Folk Art Auction. November 12, 2011

Remember when carnival cat racks were hand-painted and each one had its own unique personality? This tier of hand-painted canvas knockdown dolls from a vintage cat rack, also known as a doll or punk rack, will be on the auction block this weekend at Slotin Folk Art. The rack measures 74″ long x 5″ deep x 14″ high and is hinged. The pre-sale estimate is $1,000-2,000. It’s rare to find a whole row of ’em, since the majority of vintage games that have survived are broken up and sold piecemeal to collectors.

In 2009, ATZ wrote about an 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!


Carnival Knockdown Dolls. Slotin Folk Art Who's Who in Folk Art Auction. November 12, 2011

The rack of nine carnival cats in Saturday’s Slotin Folk Art Auction is from the collection of George and Sue Viener, who own the Outsider Folk Art Gallery in Reading, Pennyslvania. The couple were introduced to the world of Outsider Folk Art and Americana in 1970 during a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia. Viener told ATZ that he acquired the carnival doll rack a couple of years ago from a dealer in Pennsylvania. The dolls are decorated on both sides and each one is unique, unlike the standardized cat rack manufactured today. The row of dolls tips slightly forward, says Viener, which he theorized made it more difficult for players to knock them down and win the game.


Carnival Knockdown Dolls. Slotin Folk Art Who's Who in Folk Art Auction. November 12, 2011

The cat rack has already attracted online bidders and will be sold at Slotin Folk Art’s “Who’s Who in Folk Art Auction” on November 12. A larger, 21-inch tall carnival cat from the Viener Collection is also up for bid. The two-day folk art auction consists of over 1,000 lots, with the first day devoted to the Viener Collection. The live auction will be held at Historic Buford Hall in Buford, Georgia. Absentee, phone and online bidding are also available on auction days.

Carnival Knockdown Dolls. Slotin Folk Art Who's Who in Folk Art Auction. November 12, 2011


Related posts on ATZ…

November 4, 2011: Up for Auction: Ringling Bros Circus Side Show Poster

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

February 5, 2010: Happy Belated Birthday to Coney Island’s William F Mangels

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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: