Working models are amongst the most fascinating and appealing of all amusement machines because so many are unique, many of their creators made them for exhibition by themselves and rarely made two the same.
John Dennison of Leeds, England is one of the most noted. John Dennison had the concession for all the amusement machines at the Tower Blackpool from its opening in 1894 until his death in 1924, when his daughters took over until 1944.
One of the conditions was that new models should be added each year and unable to devise enough John Dennison purchased automata (mechanical dolls) in Paris, put them into cases and adapted them to coin operation.
The Floating Lady is one such piece, the figures made by Decamps, purchased in 1907 and first displayed in the Tower in 1908.
Vincent Canova was a Birmingham, England manufacturer who was making models in the 1890's and died in 1930. His figures were made of wax and the American Execution is an example of his work.
Charles Ahrens also manufactured three subjects in some quantity, with several variations in style and size, the English Execution, and Our Firefighters.
During the 1939 war when prizes for cranes were unobtainable, Fred Bolland toured the country buying them. He and his brother used the cases and motors for working models producing some 300 with distinctive style and excellent animation using cast aluminum figures including: The Burglar, witches Cave, Haunted House, Night Watchmen, Egyptian Tomb, and Haunted Churchyard.
Copyright: 2006 Ken Durham.
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