Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Antique Bowling Game Sideshow Carnival Made by Hand Folk Art

Someone threw the ball too hard, but this is the only example I have seen.  A make-shift carnival bowling game.  Plywood with complicated workings...I am going to guess this comes from the transitional days of the sideshow, when handmade gaming objects and targets were changing from somewhat primitive contraptions to more modern.  The mechanism might have been sold from a catalog, then assembled by the recipient...who knows.  Sold with a template to cut and install the works?  Ten pins and six llights.  Seriously, who knows?  The object, good from both sides, is 21" tall and 21" across.  I'm guessing 1940ish?  

Early Carnival Bowling Game collection Jim Linderman
NOTE:  Friend and follower Harold Gaines found the answer!
Since pinball machines and the like were made in very small quantities, the old ones look pretty sketchy once you pop them open and look beyond the fancy glass and cool art to see how they were put together.  They were basically hand-made, one at a time.  However, being professionals at the coin-op compaines, they did things like countersink lightbulb recesses that even a good amateur wouldn't.  Further, although your piece is in pretty bad shape, the quality is too high for a 1940's amateur job.  They just didn't have the specialized stuff like routers to make the professional looking cutout sections, soldered ring connectors with multiple colors of wire, etc.  It looks like the wiring is a combination of cloth and plastic insulated.  Plastic insulated wire wasn't introduced until the 1950's.  Finally, the rusty marks on the back side look way too symmetrical for an amatuer (especially a carny).  It looks like it was mated almost perfectly to something metallic, which was also very precisely made.  It just looks too well made to me even in it's (very) rough condition.  The guys at link could probably take one look at your pics and tell you, though. 

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