American, British, French or German? We want to know about it.
User avatar
bob
Posts: 166
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:06 pm
Location: Australia

The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby bob » Mon Jun 25, 2018 8:13 am

Post split from Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines - Site Admin.

I learnt recently from a collector friend in Sydney that he had bought the Old Thro Ball machine at an auction sale of showman’s equipment in about 2001. The machine was in a much more deteriorated state than in the photo that I have published here which has a date stamp of 1988. However, although the photo was taken by the owner in 1988, I did not see the photo or these machines until a later trip to Sydney 1994. I then bought another machine shown in this dated set of photos, the Whirlygig but more of that below.

My Sydney collector friend says that the object of the Old Thro Ball machine was indeed to catch a ping pong ball in the cup. This was fairly difficult at first but the player did not lose the ball if it did not land in the cup. Mostly it was returned for another shot, so that one got about ten shots before the ball was actually lost and it did not return to the ledge that propelled the ball. After a while one learnt how much force to exert on the ball in order to land in the target. He got a bit bored with the machine and sold it on to a collector in Adelaide a few years later. When he bought it at auction the cabinet paint was peeling and he stripped it and re-polished the cabinet which he did not consider to be the machine's original one. So, presumably the machine survives in Australia.

On my visit to the showman in 1994 I obtained the Whirlygig from him, a machine that was to be one of my most unusual restorations and one of the most exciting and satisfying ones. The Whirlygig playfield and mechanism had been rehoused in an ill fitting, recycled cabinet which did not display all of its beautiful lithographed metal playfield and had been renamed and decorated as Gypsie Lore.

Whirlygig 1.jpg
It still had its functioning mechanism on the back of the playfield. I found that the machine was illustrated in Nic Costa’s book Automatic Pleasure: The History of the Coin Machine which had been published six years before, in 1988. I had been corresponding with Nic Costa for some years in those days of snail mail and met him in 1989 but he did not know of any Whirlygigs having survived in the UK.

Consequently for some time I thought that my machine was the only one to have survived. Unfortunately, whilst the lithographed metal illustration was in excellent condition, the centre part of the machine with written fortunes and outside the accompanying illustrations, as well as the revolving disc with the Gypsy’s finger pointing to the “fortune” were illustrated on cardboard. These illustrations on cardboard had deteriorated so much, as to be totally useless.

Whirlygig 2.jpg
An unusual thing about the original Whirlygig machine was that it appeared to be housed in a cast iron cabinet, whereas most wall and countertop machines were housed in wooden or sheet metal cabinets. In order to restore this machine I thus had to make a cabinet with a cast iron front, and replace the fortunes and revolving Gypsy graphics. In order to make the cast iron cabinet front I went to a frame maker who specialised in unusual frames and asked him to make a frame in timber and plaster exactly like the picture in Nic Costas book, with the size being to fit around the metal playfield of the Whirlygig that I had. I would use this frame as a pattern at a metal foundry to make a cast iron frame for the playfield. The frame-maker made an excellent copy of the original frame and I had three cast iron castings made from the pattern with excellent results.

Whirlygig 3.jpg
As the original graphics on paper were impossible to do anything with, I decided to use some that were suitable that I had previously used on a reproduction Gypsy Fortune teller that I had been asked to make a few years previously in 1991. This was for a group of theme restaurants in Melbourne called The Pancake Parlour. They had some Mutoscopes, Cranes and Fortune Tellers of mine on location in their restaurants as well as some of their own that I serviced. These machines were copies of Bradport’s mechanical Gypsy Fortune Teller Deluxe, which although it showed a Gypsy with a pointing finger, used a metal pointer to pick out the particular fortune.

Gypsy De Luxe Fortune TellerW4.jpg
Gypsy De Luxe Fortune TellerW4.jpg (21.72 KiB) Viewed 848 times
A friend provided the circuit for an electro mechanical mechanism that I hoped would be foolproof in commercial operation, and indeed proved to be almost so. On insertion of a coin it charged a capacitor. When a knob on the machine was turned it discharged the capacitor, energising the motor from a desk fan I had bought for a couple of dollars at a trash and treasure market. The motor briefly revolved a pointer until it stopped at a fortune. I still have this first machine that I made myself.

Gypsy De Luxe Fortune Teller mechanism W5.JPG
The next photo shows The Whirlygig graphics inside the frame but having the gypsy revolve and point to the fortune rather than a revolving metal pointer as in the Bradport machine and my copies of it.

Whirlygig 6.jpg
I then had three of the frames cast from the pattern, which turned out to be quite successful. Here’s one painted black.

Whirlygig 7.jpg
Following this I had three sheet metal cabinets made to hold the machine and cashboxes that slid out from the side. Here’s a photo of a finished Whirlygig which uses the Bradport graphics. It has an antique gold decorated frame, brass coin entry and sign and bevelled mirror disc.

Whirlygig 8.jpg
I made a simple electromechanical mechanism for one which used a coin bucket on a lever which activated a microswitch energising the motor for a short time on its dropping the coin. I also made another with a more elaborate mechanism, a somewhat simplified version of the one illustrated above to put on location, which I unfortunately don’t have a photo of. Here’s a photo taken when I had started to built the first coin op mechanism for one of these.

Whirlygig 9.jpg
There remained the original but the graphics were unusable as can be seen from the next photo.

Whirlygig 10 .jpg
Then I was delighted to learn from a British collector that there was actually another Whirlygig surviving in the UK. The graphics on this one were far from perfect, but infinitely better than mine. Here’s a photo of it and its graphics which were quite readable and usable by me even if the illustrations had not fared quite so well as the text of the fortunes.

Whirlygig-11a-.jpg
Whirlygig-12a.jpg
Unfortunately I really don’t remember who it was in the UK that told me and who had the Whirlygig but I think it may have been Coin-op from this forum. Whoever it was, was kind enough to send me some excellent photos which I scaled up to size. Then in 1997 I was again most fortunate enough to obtain from Jean Lemaitre the French coin op collector and historian, an absolutely perfect copy of the revolving Gypsy from his machine. Unfortunately the fortunes on his machine which were in perfect condition, were not in English. The German makers of this machine made a number of versions of Whirlygig for various markets. In the following year 1998 I was to come across an illustration of the original German version of Whirlygig called Orakel Automat when the German book Automaten Welten was to appear. This showed a picture of the original machine with graphics not nearly as attractive as those made for the British market. Here’s a photo of the machine for the German market and my final restoration with its original mechanism three years after starting work on it. A most exciting and satisfying time for me.
Whirlygig 15.jpg
Whirlygig 14.jpg
Orakel Automat Whirlygig 13.JPG
Last edited by bob on Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
pennymachines
Site Admin
Posts: 4306
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 12:12 am
Location: The Black Country
Contact:

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby pennymachines » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:28 am

I've given Whirlygig its own thread because it's such an interesting machine and story (and it's not Australian).
I think the very simple spinning mechanism on these early fortunes is very effective and pleasing and the Whirlygig is possibly the most attractive example of this type. I've seen one or two pictures of them (I think the example below is the same one illustrated in Automaten Welten) but never the real thing. It's amazing what you did with that cast iron front. I'm very impressed.

1262120754CS_20091229_10628.jpg
The quality of the graphics and printing on some of these very early fortunes is superlative. I took pictures years ago of a very early British fortune wall machine with a rather different mechanism (I think by Haydon) which had stunning artwork. Unfortunately, I can't find the images and lost touch with the owner. The Egyptian style horoscope below also has an elaborate frame which appears to be wooden. I believe it came from a Swiss collection and was described as English but the text is French. It's not mine and I know nothing more about it unfortunately.
Horoscope egyptien.jpg

User avatar
gameswat
Posts: 1569
Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 5:17 am
Location: perth, australia

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby gameswat » Mon Jun 25, 2018 11:54 am

Great story as always Bob! But what became of the old wooden Gypsy Lore cabinet which appears to be a nice fluted English made one? And an interesting coin entry it had too.

User avatar
bob
Posts: 166
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:06 pm
Location: Australia

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby bob » Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:23 pm

I only had the door not the cabinet and don't remember what happened to that. It was a good door and I would have used it for something else as I don't have it any more. Same with the coin entry which is an interesting one.

I agree with Mr Pennymachines making this a topic on its own and thank him again for all his help. I had thought of starting a separate subject as the Whirlygig is certainly not an Australian machine but thought that there was a link to my previous ramblings.
Here's a photo of the second machine where I used the Bradfort fortunes but the original Whirlygig Gypsy when I got a copy of the perfect original centre from France. This was the machine with the more elaborate mechanism designed to go on location.

Whirlygig No 2.JPG
Last edited by bob on Tue Jun 26, 2018 12:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
pennymachines
Site Admin
Posts: 4306
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 12:12 am
Location: The Black Country
Contact:

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby pennymachines » Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:19 pm

Bob wrote:
Mon Jun 25, 2018 12:23 pm
I used the Bradport fortunes...
The obscure British maker of the Gypsy was Bradfort.

User avatar
bob
Posts: 166
Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2005 8:06 pm
Location: Australia

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby bob » Mon Jun 25, 2018 3:42 pm

Indeed it was Bradfort. The bottom of the Gypsy Fortune teller machine states it is "Embodying Bradfort "Flick" and Bradspin units Regd.

User avatar
pennymachines
Site Admin
Posts: 4306
Joined: Wed Nov 06, 2002 12:12 am
Location: The Black Country
Contact:

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby pennymachines » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:22 pm

The company's so obscure it's recorded as "Bradford" in Arcades & Slot Machines, with no dates, location or proprietor.
Bradfort.jpg

joerg_gm
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2016 4:25 pm
Location: Halle, Germany
Contact:

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby joerg_gm » Mon Jun 25, 2018 4:59 pm

Hello.

At first I want to say that your Whirlygig looks fantastic. Good job on that !!THUMBSX2!!
I was very excited to see the "Made in Saxony" mark on the "playfield".

I did a lot of research regarding „Max Jentzsch & Meerz" for my website and I also came across this machine.
It seems that it came on the German market around 1900 under the name "Wahrheitsmund" by a company called "E.G. Lochmann & Co., Leipzig" with a slightly different design:
500_Wahrheitsmund_B1.jpg
(Ad from 1900)


Lochmann went into bankruptcy in january 1903 and was re-established only days later as "Max Jentzsch & Meerz". They used the same factory-building (which still exists today), staff and machines and continued building some of the older Lochmann-machines, also the "Wahrheitsmund".
They changed the look of the machine and sold it under the new name "Orakel Automat". It seems that they build this thing until the early 30's, because it can be found on a J&M-booth on the Leipzig Trade Fair 1932:

500_Wahrheitsmund_B2.jpg
(J&M booth on the Leipzig Trade Fair, spring 1932)

I think the Whirlygig was the J&M-version for the British market. Like on the Allwin-Deluxe machines they used "Made in Saxony" as a kind of trademark.

PS: Here you can see a short video-clip of the German-version:

This machine is from the collection of "Deutsches Automatenmuseum" (www.deutsches-automatenmuseum.de).

13rebel
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 4:03 pm

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby 13rebel » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:21 pm

Enjoyed reading this thread,thanks chaps. That Egyptian style horoscope is superb.

User avatar
JC
Posts: 847
Joined: Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:38 pm
Location: Kent
Contact:

Re: The Whirlygig fortune teller

Postby JC » Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:33 pm

Yes, once again Bob, you've initiated a fascinating and most informative topic, with some unexpected input from Germany as an added bonus. However, at the risk of taking this thread off on a tangent........
The obscure British maker of the Gypsy was Bradfort.
Bradfort isn't obscure - it was a company or trading name of Lesley Bradley (of Challenger fame). Another trading name was Bradmatics, which may well have been the parent company.


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests