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Posts Tagged ‘Americana’

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

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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

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Papa Burger

Looking for a New Beach: Papa Burger Atop Paul' s Daughter, Coney Island Boardwalk. October 8, 2011

Last week, a new sign was seen on the roof of Paul’s Daughter, a 49-year-old Coney Island Mom and Pop being booted off the City-owned Boardwalk at the end of the month. Papa Burger, a winsome fiberglass figure, is sporting a sign that says “Looking for a New Beach.”

“I am looking for a new location,” Tina Georgoulakos, the owner of Paul’s Daughter, told ATZ. “Our first preference is to stay on the Boardwalk in Coney Island, if we can’t have that, then we are looking for another beach.”

What are her plans for Mama and Papa Burger? The reason we ask is numerous people, including fans of roadside signage, have sent emails expressing concern about the fate of the figures, which have been part of the Coney Island skyline for decades. They wanted to make sure these rare pieces of roadside Americana were preserved. Last fall, when the businesses first received “Surrender the Premises” notices, among the people we heard from was Debra Jane Seltzer, a devotee of roadside architecture who has catalogued the whereabouts of the Burger figures known as the “A & W Root Beer Family” on her wonderful website RoadsideArchitecture.com.

“The A&W Burger Family may not be the biggest giants out there but they are arguably the cutest,” writes Seltzer on the “Land of Giants” section of her site. “In 1963, A&W introduced four choices of hamburgers and their corresponding Burger Family members: Papa Burger, Mama Burger, Baby Burger, and Teen Burger.” When A & W introduced another mascot called “the Great Root Bear” in 1974, some stores began selling off the burger figures, which have ended up at places as various as Magic Forest in Lake George, New York, and the backyard of a private residence in Portland, Oregon. Others are in storage or have been greatly altered, according to Seltzer’s research.

Burger Girl

Burger Girl at Paul's Daughter, Coney Island. November 13, 2010. Photo © me-myself-i/Tricia Vita via flickr

“I found the man that made them,” Tina says. “It took all day. His name is Steve Dashew.” There’s a touch of excitement in her voice. In an interview with Roadside America, the former president of International Fiberglass and creator of the Muffler Men and other figures said, “My favorite of all of them was a ‘burger family’: Mama Burger, Papa Burger, Baby Burger, a little larger than life-sized.” Tina contacted him to find out how much the Burger people weighed, so she’d know if a crane would be required to remove them from the roof. It turns out Papa Burger is 10 feet tall, 6 feet wide, and weighs 250 pounds. “I’m going to wrap them with ropes and lower them down,” Tina said. “I am taking every single thing with me. Anything that has meaning is coming with me.”

Another soon-to-vanish piece of Coney Island Americana is the vernacular signage of Paul’s Daughter, including Mister Shrimp and other favorites, which we will detail in another post. “I had considered an auction of certain things but I’m not sure what they are,” says Tina. “It will all depend on whether we move the business somewhere else and I don’t have the answer to that as of yet. If I can’t use them, then I will be auctioning them off.”

Formerly known as Gregory & Paul’s, the beloved seaside restaurant and its signage is featured in the book “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York” (see photo here). It was also the scene of the 1999 music video “Summer Girls,” in which the band LFO danced on the roof in front of the Astroland Rocket.  “It was a sad day when the Rocket left,” says Tina. “The Burger statues really miss it. We do too!” Why doesn’t the City keep Paul’s Daughter, the Burger Family and return the Rocket to its rightful place on the roof?

The restaurant is being evicted from the Boardwalk property to make way for a gentrified, corporatized Coney Island. The City-owned property is expected to be taken over by a concession run by France’s Sodexo, the world’s 21st largest corporation. Sodexo was chosen by the Italian company that runs Luna Park to be their partner for “On-Site Service Solutions.”

Through November 4th, ATZ is posting a favorite photo (or two) a day to say goodbye to the Boardwalk Mom and Pops who must “Surrender the Premises” at the end of the month. Click the tag “Countdown to Corporatization” to see all of the posts.

astroland Rocket

Papa Burger and Astroland Rocket Above Gregory & Paul's. February 10, 2008. Photo Copyright © Diane Taft Shumate/Rubyshost via flickr. All Rights Reserved

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October 20, 2011: Reversal of Fortune on the Coney Island Boardwalk

October 8, 2011: Photo of the Day: “The Chief” of the Coney Island Boardwalk

January 13, 2011: Paul’s Daughter Dishes on the Boardwalk Brawl

December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video

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