Posts Tagged ‘Mutoscope’

Punch A Bag Arcade Game

Early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

How strong is your punch? Coney Island Arcade‘s Boxer, a popular punching bag arcade game, can be found throughout Coney Island during the season. The mechanical punching bag, in which players compete for the highest score, dates back to a strength tester introduced at penny arcades more than a century ago. Antique dealer Urban Country is offering this antique Punch-A-Bag arcade game manufactured in the early 1900s by the International Mutoscope Reel Company Inc. of Long Island City.

punch-a-bag game

Detail of early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

Originally formed to produce Mutoscope machines, which contained “peep show” movies with a viewing time of about a minute, the company went on to produce a variety of coin-op amusement devices.

According to the International Arcade Museum, other machines made by International Mutoscope Corp. during the time period Punch-A-Bag was produced include Uncle Sam, Grandmother’s Predictions, Mystic Mirror fortuneteller, Mutoscope Puncher, and Voice-O-Graph aka Record Your Voice.

punch-a-bag arcade game

Detail of early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

While the cast iron and wood machine with original paint pictured in these photos is said by Urban Country to be “on hold,” similar models are being offered here and here and here on eBay for $4,800-$5,900 or best offer. All appear to be in need of restoration before you can drop a nickel in the slot and play the game.

arcade punch-a-bag game

Early 20th century carnival midway arcade punch-a-bag game at Urban Country

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Step right up and see “Double Trouble,” an early 20th century peep show reel. Yes, it’s SFW though dancers wearing short skirts were considered risque when this moving picture machine was new. Invented in 1894 and marketed by the American Mutoscope Company, the coin-op machines contained flip book movies with a viewing time of about a minute.

These classic reels were made from 1897 to 1907, when the company turned completely to projection, and were created and almost totally produced in New York City. Although the 4,000-plus titles included a variety of subjects, it was the girly movies with suggestive titles like “Artists and Models” and “Wiggling Wonders” (glimpsed in the photo below) that won notoriety.

Mutoscope machines were popular in Coney Island and the Rev. Frederick Bruce Russell of the Law and Order Society raided and closed several for the exhibition of improper pictures on July 30, 1897. “Those closed by Mr. Russell to-day were at Feltman’s Pavilion, Koster’s Concert Hall, the Sea Beach Palace and the Old Iron Pier,” said an article on the front page of the Brooklyn Eagle. “The particular pictures which fell under the reformer’s eye were entitled ‘What the Girls Did With Willie’s Hat’ and ‘Fun in a Boarding School.’”

What did the girls do with the hat that was so scandalous? They frolicked and kicked it high over their heads while wearing short skirts like the girls in “Double Trouble.” Bring back the peep show! It would be fun to have some of these old Mutoscope movie machine as well as an arcade museum as we noted previously in “ATZ’s Big Wish List for the New Coney Island,” ATZ, October 7, 2012).

penny movies

Boys looking at penny movies at South Louisiana State Fair, 1938. Photograph by Russell Lee. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division


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