Grey Flannel's May 14 auction features coin ops, amusements from 1962 Seattle World's Fair Collection also includes 8-ft.-tall calliope, automata, other attractions from San Francisco’s Playland-at-the-Beach; plus game-worn apparel from the titans of professional sport.
News-Antique.com - Apr 14,2008 - WESTHAMPTON BEACH, N.Y. – Grey Flannel Auctions, the Long Island company that has distinguished itself as official authenticator for both the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, will launch its new Coin-op, Amusements & Entertainment division with an absentee/Internet auction closing May 14. The department’s 1,000-lot auction premiere will include a collection of arcade machines, automata, oversize figures and other iconic articles that visitors to the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair would well remember.
Grey Flannel Auctions’ president, Richard E. Russek, explained that many of the World’s Fair items originally came from Playland-at-the-Beach, an old-time amusement park in San Francisco that was knocked down in 1972 to make way for an apartment block. “As early as 1884, San Franciscans and tourists flocked to Playland to ride the roller coaster, which was quite a novelty in its day. Later, the owners added concessions and a games arcade.”
In 1962, amusements and machines from Playland were sent to the Seattle World’s Fair, where they joined carnival items constructed specifically for the event. The fair may have been a “wow,” but the latter part of the 1960s marked a decline in Playland’s attendance, and the decision was made to shut down the oceanside park. Before the bulldozers rumbled in to demolish Playland in September of 1972, a massive auction was conducted to disperse its contents. Everything went, from antique coin-ops to an entire carousel. A number of highly recognizable pieces ended up in Dr. Walt Jones’ Fantastic Museum in Seattle, where they were popular attractions. After his death, Dr. Jones’ will bequeathed his entire museum collection to the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, with the stipulation that if it were ever sold, it must be sold only as a whole. In time, the hospital deaccessioned the collection, and it was purchased in its entirety by one of the consignors to Grey Flannel’s auction.
The aforementioned sources – Playland, the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, and the Jones Fantastic Museum – as well as the City of Seattle, which commissioned the 1981 auction of certain World’s Fair items it owned outright – are among the entities contributing to the provenance of the private collection to be sold by Grey Flannel in its upcoming event.
Auction highlights include a finely carved 99-inch-tall calliope with a magnificently carved façade and a heart-stopping array of musical pipes (reserve: $10,000), Laffin’ Sal, a witchy coin-operated character in an 80-inch-tall cabinet that was one of Playland’s best-known residents (reserve: $2,500); and Olaf the Giant, a 9-foot-tall figure of a Scandinavian man (reserve: $1,000).
A traffic stopper at the spring Atlantique City show where it was displayed, a 1940s International Mutoscope Record Your Voice Booth enabled World’s Fair visitors to record and instantly press a playable record for just 50 cents. It will be auctioned together with a photo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis at a similar photo booth. Reserve: $2,500.
Another crowd-pleaser at Atlantique City is the handsome, extremely realistic-looking 8½-foot-tall gray elephant automaton