Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

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bob
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Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

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Holden Collection article - Woman's Weekly
Holden Collection article - Woman's Weekly

In the mid 1970s a large collection of coin op machines came to light in Adelaide in Australia. These had belonged to a Mr Holden who operated amusement machines during the summer months in Adelaide at Henley Beach and at the annual Royal Agricultural shows held at Wayville in Adelaide every year. Mr Holden who had originally come from Manchester in the UK operated these machines, whilst his wife had a fairy floss stall in his arcade.

Holden Collection as found
Holden Collection as found

This was before I started collecting coin op machines myself; however I later met an Adelaide collector who knew of Mr Holden and his large number of machines. These were stored at his house in Hawthorn, a suburb of Adelaide, most of them non-functioning and derelict in his back yard, in a shed, and on a veranda around the house, exposed to the weather. The Adelaide collector, the late Joe Hobson, had seen these machines in his back yard and known of them for some time. When Mr Holden died of a heart complaint the contents of the house were sold in a clearing sale.

Holden Collection as found
Holden Collection as found


Holden Collection as found
Holden Collection as found

Two young antique dealers Glenn Coad and Leigh Pritchard went to the old house to see what might be of interest to them. “We went there to look for old iron pots” said Glenn Coad, and were stunned to find a large collection of old machines most of which were no longer operable. All the amusement machines and some other items of interest in the house and yard, including some automata were subsequently bought by Glenn Coad and Leigh Pritchard. They soon realised that to restore all the machines would take an inordinate amount of time and effort and was beyond their resources. They decided that the best way to realise on their find would be to restore a number of the machines to show the potential in the collection and then try and find a buyer for the whole lot including the restored and unrestored machines.

Holden Collection as found
Holden Collection as found


Holden Collection as found
Holden Collection as found

By coincidence the largest collector of coin op machines by far at the time also happened to live in Adelaide. He did not have the resources to buy all the machines but very keenly wanted to buy some of the machines to add to his collection. He was most disappointed to find that they were quite determined in their decision not to split up the collection. The highlights of the collection were a number of cast iron Matthewson sports machines and more than twenty cast iron Mutoscopes and many Mutoscope reels. Most of these Mutoscopes were the American Indian Head models and a few Clamshell models as well as some British/French cast iron octagonal Mutoscopes.

Clamshell Mutoscope at Greens Motorcade
Clamshell Mutoscope at Greens Motorcade


Indian Head Mutoscope - Holden Collection
Indian Head Mutoscope - Holden Collection

The first Mutoscopes to reach Australia had been the British/French models brought here by the International Mutoscope Company of London in 1902. The American cast iron models arrived here later, in the declining days of the fortunes of the American Mutoscope and Biographs’s operation of their Mutoscope individual movie viewers and their increasing concentration on the theatrical operation of their Biograph films in cinemas. For this reason the later Indian Head model Mutoscope is far more prevalent in Australia than the Clamshell model, in contrast to the United States where the Clamshell model is more commonly found and the Indian Head model is quite rare.

Coad and Pritchard decided to restore seven machines: Matthewson’s Mermaid Yacht Race, Golf, Cricket, 2 man and 6 man Football games as well as a Clamshell and Indian Head Mutoscope. They and Adelaide artist/craftsman Bruce Howard worked virtually night and day for three months restoring and decorating these seven machines. In order to enable and finance this venture they disposed of a number of the machines to some of the people that helped in the restoration and to dealers who sold a couple of the Mutoscopes to the Adelaide collector, but would not part with any of the Matthewson machines that he wanted most. I was told by Joe Hobson that all the wooden machines in the collection were burnt in the back yard of the house and that he had seen this. Messrs Coad and Pritchard denied this and stated that it was just rubbish and white ant borer ridden timber that was burnt. Although I tried when researching this in the eighties and nineties, I was never able to obtain a list of all the machines in the collection originally. Over the years many of the machines in the collection have turned up in antique shops, auctions and peoples' collections but not all, including the number of punching bags in the black and white photos of the collection as found.

Yacht Race
Yacht Race
Yacht Race.jpg (22.38 KiB) Viewed 4976 times


Yacht Race Close Up
Yacht Race Close Up
Yacht Race Close Up.jpg (21.16 KiB) Viewed 4976 times


Golf at Greens Motorcade
Golf at Greens Motorcade


Cricket
Cricket
Cricket B.jpg (20.59 KiB) Viewed 4976 times


Two Man Footballer at Greens Motorcade
Two Man Footballer at Greens Motorcade


Six Man Footballer at Greens Motorcade
Six Man Footballer at Greens Motorcade

The seven machines were stunningly well decorated. In my opinion they are by far the best redecoration of cast iron American Mutoscopes and Matthewson’s machines that I have seen, including my own efforts in this direction. Above are pictures of the seven machines concerned. Hoad and Pritchard displayed some of the restored machines in their antique shop Glenleigh Antiques in Walkerville an affluent Adelaide suburb and later at a more central location in Rundle Street in Adelaide.
Attachments
Try Your Grip Close Up
Try Your Grip Close Up
Matthewson Try Your Grip Close Up.jpg (21.67 KiB) Viewed 4976 times
Last edited by bob on Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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bob
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by bob »


Leisure Line article
Leisure Line article

Unable to find a buyer for the whole collection in Adelaide, Coad and Pritchard decided to display the seven restored machines in the more centrally located and populous city of Melbourne at an antique dealer’s showroom in High Street in the antique district of Armadale. The seven items were on display there and publicised Australia wide for some time and eventually discussions were held with the owners of Greens Motorcade near Sydney. George Green was a collector of early motor cars whose collection had grown to some 100 cars by the early 1970s, and in partnership with another motor car collector, Frank Illich, he had established Green’s Motorcade Park Museum at Leppington, in 1974. Situated on the Hume highway to Melbourne 55 kilometres from Sydney, near the city of Liverpool, Leppington was a sparsely populated semi rural area. The Motorcade site was effectively a large leisure park with walking trails, a cafe, a pond with wildlife, and a picnic area. The exhibits featured “a large hangar containing a cavalcade of motor cars, a folk-life village, re-created late 19th-century shops, a ‘Merchant’s building’ complete with coaches in the style of Cobb & Co, and a 1930s garage”.

Leppington Auction brochure
Leppington Auction brochure


Leppington Auction brochure
Leppington Auction brochure

Green and Illich sent down a representative to look at the collection in Melbourne and Adelaide to evaluate the collection and its potential. An offer was made for the whole collection and a deal was struck. The machines were then sent to Sydney to be restored and exhibited in the Motor Car Museum. However not all the machines stayed with the motor car museum. Some Green and his partner did not want, and were swapped with another car museum in Perth in exchange for some cars that the Green’s Motorcade did not have, and others were sold off to antique dealers or collectors. A few were being kept by the man who had come to Melbourne and Adelaide to evaluate them and this had resulted in a bitter wrangle between him and the buyers. In October 1982, some years after I had started collecting, George Green had died and in order to settle his estate it was decided to sell half the collections in the Museum. By then the Mermaid Yacht race was also no longer part of the collection. The four day auction included some 44 items in the Amusement Games – Penny in the Slot Arcade section of the Auction. Whilst the prices today seem quite low for the cast iron machines, they were substantial amounts of money in 1982 and quite high for the time. Sadly I was not in a position to go to this sale and bid for any of the items myself. The Adelaide collector was finally able to buy the Matthewson Cricket and Football machines that he so badly wanted to add to his collection. Another friend of mine in Melbourne approached the surviving partner in Green’s Motorcade Frank Illich and asked him if he would sell his Cricket Match machine. Illich replied that he would for the same price as the one that was sold and the deal was done. The Fire Fighters and one of the Matthewson Football Match machines was sold to a Sydney collector who has since died and the machines have been resold, the Footballer having gone overseas from Australia. The mobile popcorn machine in the auction had also been part of the Holden collection.
Attachments
Leppington Auction results
Leppington Auction results
Last edited by bob on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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bob
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

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In 1984 the value of the land that the Motorcade was situated on in Leppington had increased so substantially that Frank Illich decided to close Green’s Motorcade and sell the rest of the items in the Museum in a 3 day auction sale in December 1984. This time I went to the auction sale hoping to buy some of the cast iron items.

Leppington 1984 Auction Results
Leppington 1984 Auction Results

Unfortunately all these went for huge prices, the Football Game selling for $3,800 and the Golf selling for $6,500 to collector friends of mine. A combination of the high costs and my unwillingness to bid against two of my friends who were the main bidders for these, meant that I ended up only buying a cast iron Gold sovereign changer at this sale for $250.

Express Sovereign Changer
Express Sovereign Changer

The three cast iron Mutoscopes went for $2,000 each, all purchased by the newly established National Museum of Australia, by then not even built, but already purchasing items for when it would be opened in Canberra. The museum won the bidding for the first of these and then took up the offer of getting the other two for the same amount which was far more than they had achieved at the previous sale. There was also a sale of 13 Mutoscope reels. The first to be offered (although last on the list) was a reel “Can Can” in which every single pictured had been hand tinted in colour. Although rather worn, it is stunning to watch and must have been a sensation in its day. Not just incredibly rare, it is quite unique being the only coloured Mutoscope reel known to exist anywhere in the world. Interestingly the Dutch National Film Museum has a similar hand tinted reel of this film in the original American Mutoscope and Biograph Company’s 55mm film version, again the only known copy to have survived anywhere.

Also in the sale, although not in the Fun Parlour section was another coin operated machine, a large Avery cast iron weighing machine illustrated below. This is extremely rare in both the UK and Australia and is the only example that has survived that I am aware of. Coincidentally a friend of mine who owns the many hundreds of Salter Everitt weighing machines that have survived here and which he operates at tourist locations in Australia as well as the United States was in Sydney. I made him aware of the presence of the weighing machine in the auction and he intended to buy it at its auction the following day. Sadly, he was ill in bed that day and missed the auction where it was sold for a couple of hundred dollars. Consequently I do not know who the buyer was and its present location.

Avery Weighing Machine
Avery Weighing Machine

That evening the two buyers of the Matthewson Golf and Football machines who were friends of mine celebrated in Sydney together with a coin op collector from Brisbane in Queensland who had unsuccessfully bid for these items. A migrant from the UK he had limited his bidding as he thought that if this number of cast iron amusement machines had survived in Australia, how many more must have survived in the UK which he intended to visit the following year. He toured Britain the following year on this quest and sadly returned empty handed.

Matthewson Golf
Matthewson Golf


Matthewson 2 man Football Game
Matthewson 2 man Football Game

Originally it had been the intention of Green’s Motorcade to restore all the machines in the collection and then open a coin operated museum as part of the Motorcade. They “collected around 10,000 pennies so that patrons can use pennies to operate the machines when they visit the museum” Leigh Pritchard said. The Adelaide machines were to form the basis of a museum style Victorian fun parlour. This however was never to eventuate, only a few of the machines, the cast iron Matthewson sport machines and the Mutoscopes, Watling scales, the Genco Gypsy Grandma Horoscope machine, Detroit Battery Electrical shock machine and a more modern Jolly Swagman amusement machine were exhibited behind rope barriers.

Clamshell Mutoscope and Golf at Greens Motorcade
Clamshell Mutoscope and Golf at Greens Motorcade


Clamshell Mutoscope
Clamshell Mutoscope


Genco Gypsy Horoscope
Genco Gypsy Horoscope


Indian Head Mutoscope
Indian Head Mutoscope

Not all of the machines were restored and displayed by Green’s Motorcade but were sold off in a restored or unrestored state or exchanged for motor car items with other private car museums. When restored, the paintwork was done in the style of the Bruce Howard restorations but not quite as accomplished or elaborate as his decoration had been. The many of the Mutoscopes were missing parts or all of their mechanism. These were restored in a very basic form so that the crank handles were connected to a shaft that had a worm turning a gear on which the reel was mounted, but lacking the whole coin/shutoff/lighting mechanism that they would have originally had. Two years later I restored nine of these Clamshell and Indian head model Mutoscope mechanisms for some of the buyers of these incomplete machines including the National Museum of Australia, but that is another story. As is the tale of my finding the Holy Grail of coin operated machines, Matthewson’s cast iron Mermaid Yacht Race in 1985 not long after the 2nd Leppington auction.

British Octagon Mutoscope
British Octagon Mutoscope


British Octagon Mutoscope
British Octagon Mutoscope


Clamshell Mutoscope
Clamshell Mutoscope


Clamshell Mutoscope
Clamshell Mutoscope
Clamshell-Mutoscopea.jpg (12.9 KiB) Viewed 4967 times

Leigh Pritchard went on to open large upmarket antique shops in the heart of the antiques district of Sydney where he moved to and later also opened a branch in Melbourne. In 2006 as demand for antiques began to decline generally in Australia he moved to Shanghai in China. It seems that he recognized early that the market for Asian antiques would become the most booming sector of the market. Glen Coad relocated to Melbourne to follow his passion for motor racing cars and establish the company of Glen Coad Racing Pty Ltd dealing in racing and classic cars. In November 2015 Leppington, the location of Green’s Motorcade was still an area sparsely populated and home to about 2000 people and semi-rural properties when Planning Minister Rob Stokes announced plans to rezone enough land for nearly 30,000 new residents in what was declared as Sydney's newest suburb. My own interest in the history of coin op machines has continued unabated into old age.
Attachments
Mills Pneumatic Puncher
Mills Pneumatic Puncher
Mills Pneumatic Puncher.jpg (20.63 KiB) Viewed 4967 times
Try Your Grip
Try Your Grip
Try Your Grip B.jpg (29.32 KiB) Viewed 4967 times
Mills Pneumatic Puncher
Mills Pneumatic Puncher
Mills Pneumatic Puncher close-up.jpg (26.42 KiB) Viewed 4967 times
Mills Lifter
Mills Lifter
Ahren's Fireman
Ahren's Fireman
Ex Holden Machines at Dizzy Lambs
Ex Holden Machines at Dizzy Lambs
Detroit Battery
Detroit Battery
Electricity is Life.jpg (23.41 KiB) Viewed 4967 times
speedwell
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by speedwell »

Wow! Just Wow!! I found this utterly fascinating. Mr Penny Machines, this man deserves a medal.
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by badpenny »

Bob .......

Thank you so much for sharing this extraordinary account with us, also for the amount of time it must have taken to type it all out and post the photos.
BP !!THUMBSX2!!
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gameswat
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by gameswat »

Great story telling Bob! Just to let you know there is one other Avery column scale like this in the US, it had belonged to the late Red Meade, who for a long time had the greatest coin-op scale collection ever assembled. Not sure who owns it now. There is some story about it being on an English pier that was hit by a US ship and the wealthy ship owner purchased everything from the pier including the scale and shipped back to the US.
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bryans fan
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by bryans fan »

I am so pleased that you have decided to put this story down in print, and thanks to this website , it will remain as a documented, first hand record of the history of these amazing machines. We are all indebted to you Bob. !THANKS! !WORSHIPFULL! CoNgRaTs
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gameswat
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by gameswat »

Well, Bob just added a huge part of the history to one of my machines without realising it! Even though he'd sent me these same photocopies from the Holden collection at least 20 years ago I'd never thought to look for my German zinc hen amongst them. And the story I'd been told had thrown me off anyway as the story was it had been discovered in an old store in Tasmania. But there it is in black and white amongst the scans above having been found in Adelaide! The hen negative had been turned backwards so I righted it and after printing the photo went to check my machine and they are exactly the same. And nice to see the machine was incomplete back then and the parts weren't lost more recently by a lazy restorer as I'd figured. The top of the machine actually fits to the case the other way around but I placed it that way to show comparison photos. I'd already realised that some kind of sign had been added later to the upper case as shown by the 6 holes in my cabinet, because the original advert I found for the machine has the instructions painted or decaled to the lower case. And there are three holes in the lower front that match perfectly. This is a rare machine as I've still not been able to ever find another surviving example.
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Holden Hen on my workbench 2016
Holden Hen on my workbench 2016
Holden Hen circa 1976
Holden Hen circa 1976
sweetmeats
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by sweetmeats »

Bob, although I thought I knew this story in full from our exchange of letters more than ten years ago, I now realise I had only a bare bones idea of the whole story. I must add my grateful thanks to other members for this wonderful contribution. However, you have not included how you came acquire the Yacht Racer - a story I don't remember you telling me, however you may have done and now getting older I may have forgotten! It's wonderful that you still have such an interest even though I know you have parted with most of your collection. Please keep sharing all your stories and knowledge with this site. Thank you so very much.
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Re: Discovery and Dispersal of the Holden Collection in Adelaide, Australia.

Post by pennymachines »

speedwell wrote:Mr Penny Machines, this man deserves a medal.
I second, third and fourth that! Thank you indeed Bob for taking the trouble to fill us in on the fascinating back story to these wonderful relics. We shall be poring over the details and drooling over the pictures for years to come!
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