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vintage amusements

Gray’s Auctioneers holds ticket to vintage amusements Nov. 18

vintage amusements
Coin-operated Play-the-Derby arcade machine, 1929, 10-cent play, manufactured by Chester-Pollard Amusement Co., Inc. (New York City), in a pine and glass case. Estimate: $2,000-$4,000. Gray’s image

CLEVELAND – On Monday, Nov. 18, a uniquely American collection of amusement park artifacts will come up for auction at Gray’s Auctioneers. The venerable Lake Erie amusement park Cedar Point has deaccessioned items from its museum collection to make way for a new collection that will debut next year, 2020, one of the many events which will mark the park’s 150th anniversary. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

The auction features 160 lots of vintage arcade games, antique trains and fairground amusements as well as locally relevant historical artifacts. Highlights include an American-LaFrance steam fire pumper built for the Greensboro, North Carolina, Fire Department in 1904. It is a horse-drawn steam pumping engine built shortly after the merger of the American Fire Engine Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio and the LaFrance Fire Engine Co. of Elmira, New York. The company thereafter became known as the American LaFrance Fire Engine Co. with a factory in Elmira. This engine was of the LaFrance pattern and was the 496th such engine built by the LaFrance Company, but it was the first engine built under the new company name and might well have been numbered American LaFrance No. 1. It is, therefore, an important machine with regard to the manufacturer’s own history. The fire engine was completely restored by Cedar Point in 1971. The estimate is $150,000-$250,000.

vintage amusements
Horse-drawn American LaFrance steam fire engine No. 496, built in 1904 and fully restored in 1971. Estimate: $150,000-$250,000. Gray’s image

Steam-powered vehicles are a significant portion of the auction. The Fleming steam traction engine No. 4 from 1907 is the only known steam garden tractor of its kind in the United States. It is being sold together with its own water carriage and carries an estimate of $10,000-$20,000.

There are 11 scale model steam locomotives, including lot 23, a handsome English 9½-inch gauge Great Northern Railway 4-4-2, #251 live steam locomotive with tender and boxcar, estimated at $8,000-$10,000. Lot 28 is an English live steam 2-6-4, 5-inch gauge, 1-inch scale locomotive, together with a partial track. It’s expected to fetch $4,000-$6,000. Some of the locomotives come with tenders and others with passenger cars.

Fairground amusements and early coin-operated games will kick off the auction. Featured lots include lots 4 and 5, two Play-the-Derby arcade machines from 1929 manufactured by the Chester-Pollard Amusement Co. (New York) and lots 2 and 3, two Rock-Ola 1937 World Series baseball arcade machines. All the machines have condition issues and are in need of restoration. They all carry estimates of $2,000-$4,000.

There are machines that tell fortunes, predict love, read palms and characters, and there’s even a screen test arcade machine and vintage Mutoscope movie reel viewers. The auction has a coin-operated Mills Novelty Violano Virtuoso, an automatic music player from the early 20th century playing violin and piano music from perforated paper rolls. The Violano Virtuoso is lot 19 and is expected to fetch $5,000-$7,000.

vintage amusements
Coin-operated ‘Grandmother’s Predictions’ arcade machine by William Gent Mfg. Co. (Cleveland, Ohio), circa 1929-1932, 78¼in tall. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000. Gray’s image

Fairground curiosities include a full-size apothecary store display from Crestline, Ohio; a full barbershop display; and the post office from Miller City, Ohio. They are wonderful historical displays from yesteryear. Accoutrements from the stores are also available and they include cash registers, antique apothecary bottles, antique medical implements, barber chairs, a barber pole and various display cases.

vintage amusements
Coin-operated, hand-crank, three movie reel arcade viewers by International Mutoscope Reel Co. Inc. (New York City). Estimate: $800-$1,200. Gray’s image

While antique and vintage amusement park treasures abound, arcade games from the latter half of the 20th century are also featured. How about the Sega Outrun 2 or the Bally Midway Ms. Pac-Man, or Namco’s FourTrax Racing Game that you would play with a friend? The auction includes several boxed lots of hard-to-find parts, and manuals for many arcade game machines. They’ll be a treasure trove for video game enthusiasts from around the world.

The last lot in the auction is sure to attract interest from Trekkies near and far: a reproduction Starfleet Command captain’s chair for Captain Picard, built by the Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. It is electrified and lights up.

vintage amusements
Reproduction Starfleet Command Captain Picard’s chair, made by Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., 48½in high. Estimate: $80-$120. Gray’s image

The auction will begin at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

For details contact Gray’s Auctioneers & Appraisers at 216-226-3300 or

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vintage amusements