The Crane Part One: 1926 The Birth of The Digger-Crane

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1 The Crane Part One: 1926 The Birth of The Digger-Crane Digger machines were first introduced to the relatively new American Coin Machine Industry in For more than 90 years Digger-Crane machines have been operated in most countries around the World, Freddy Bailey as compiled a short history that follows the rise of these wildly successful amusement machines from the roaring 1920, which are still going strong in 2014 after more than 90 years In 1924 a company called The Erie Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. Introduced The Erie Digger a new novelty game that was designed mainly for the Carnivals and the Arcades that were dotted along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. The Erie Digger 1930 Model The Erie Digger 1c Model 1926 Exhibit Iron Claw 1926 The Erie Digger would become the first in a long line of machines to become known amongst coin machine operators as Merchandisers a term that would be used by the American coin machine operators for the next 90 years, and is still used by many of the American operators today. From 1926 till 1930 The Erie Mfg. Co. enjoyed virtual domination of the Digger market supplying their Diggers mostly to the traveling Carnival people, but in 1926 William Bartlett a carnival man took the Erie Digger concept and created the Miami Digger. Of which he would operate at more than 40 traveling carnivals for the next 20 years.

2 . A Erie digger add in Automatic Age from 1932, Exhibit would soon take over the Digger market.

3 It was in 1926 that the first Miami digger was designed by a travelling carnival man named William Bartlett following World War I, and was patented in the U.S and Canada in It was never offered for sale to other operators. These Diggers were operated with great success from the mid 1920 s until 1951 travelling with major carnivals in the U. S. and Canada. Employee-Agents were hired and trained by Bartlett to operate carnival concession units of diggers each. The awards offered to the players as prizes were coins (nickel coins and on up to silver dollar coins) these games were known as Nickel Diggers. At the time of Mr. Bartlett s death in 1948 he had over 40 operators in the field supplying digger concessions to all of the major carnivals of the day, Bob Parker continued this business operation successfully, acting as the manager for the estate of William Bartlett, but the end of the U. S. operations came abruptly in 1951 with the implementation of a new federal antigambling law known as the Johnson Interstate Transportation Act. The Bartlett type of digger, and all others which were powered by an electric motor, were illegal to cross State lines from 1951 until the min-1970 s. Some of the Bartlett/Parker type Nickel Diggers operated for another 20 years in Canada, but they were finally closed-down for good by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Edmonton, Alberta in July of 1975 on the grounds they were Gambling Devices. (The information on William Bartlett is courtesy of James Roller) James Roller s Miami Digger Playing a Miami Digger on a Carnival. Restored Miami Digger Miami Digger 1950 Automatic Age trade magazine February 1932 (All references to Automatic Age magazine is courtesy of The International Arcade Museum).

4 The Exhibit Supply Company started in 1901 as a printing company, it produced millions of now collectable cards of various subjects, from Baseball players of the day to film stars of the various times. Exhibit Supply Company got into the coin operated games business manufacturing initially Card Dispensing machines for the cards that they printed. By the early 1930 s they were the largest manufacturer of novelty amusement machines in the World, Exhibit Supply Company ceased manufacturing amusement games in 1962, they then went back into producing their famous collectable card series, this was carried on until the early 1970 s when they closed their doors forever.

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6 By the early 1930 s Frank Meyer president of The Exhibit Supply Company was taking out lawsuits for patent infringement of their Iron Claw Digger, one of those lawsuits was against their number one rival International Mutoscope Reel Company, Inc. By this time both companies had become very successful in the manufacture of various novelty games and had deep pockets to fight any lawsuits that would be brought against them. William Rabkin President of International Mutoscope Reel Corp. quickly Counter sued Exhibit for $500,000 after denying the claims by Exhibit Supply Company. of Copyright infringement, the cases would later be settled out of court, and both companies sued several of the other smaller Digger manufacturers, who quickly went out of business.

7 (Courtesy of Greg McLemore, International Arcade Museum) International Mutoscope Reel Co, would share the lucrative Amusement Machine market with Exhibit Supply Co, right up until the outbreak of World War II. When both companies would turn to producing various items for the U. S. war effort.

8 After producing various Novelty Amusement games for the next several years both companies were giants of the industry, both producing and pioneering various Novelty machines such as: Exhibit Supply Company: Rotary Merchandiser, Smiling Sam, Hi-Ball, Love Meter Rudolph Ride, Love Tester, Grandma Predicts, Novelty Merchandiseer, International Mutoscope Rel Company: Voice-O-Graph Mutomatic Merchandiser, Punch Bag, Photomatic, Magic Finger Bowl-A-Game Lift-A-Graph. Both Exhibit and Mutoscope would dominate the novelty game market, shipping their games around the World, then in 1941 everything stopped and every coin machine manufacturer in the U.S turned their production to supporting the War effort. In 1945 after World War II, the G.I s were returning from five years of war in foreign countries and were hungry for home spun entertainment, the Penny Arcades would have more popularity than ever.

9 In 1948 William Rabkin President of International Mutoscvope Reel Company, died suddenly, his son Ray took over and carried on for several more years, but closed their doors in the early 1960 s, but the hey day s of the Penny Arcades was fading away, the new breed of manufacturers had arrived and entered the market with new and ingenious electronic games. Lena Horne Perry Como Pearl Bailey Paul Anka Dinah Shore Al Martino Patty Page The famous Exhibit Collectable Card Series every subject and event over a fifty year period was depicted, And so these two giant companies that started at the turn of the Century was no more. But what a run they had, even in the early day s of the modern arcades, the traditiuonal Exhibit and Mutoscopes could still be found operating, if only in a corner, they still held many memories for their operators.

10 In 1945 International Mutoscope Corporation. Celebrated 50 years of building every kind of novelty amusement machines that will forever be in the minds of the customers that were privalidged to be part of an hera never to be seen again, from the roaring 20 s to the turbulant 1960 s when the Sportslands and Penny Arcades were the places to be entertained.

11 The Exhibit Supply Company better known as ESCO, left an indelible mark on the novelty coin machine industry, not only with it s now classical and highly collectablenovelty machines but for it s highly recognized collectable card series that covered every subject from the cowboy s of the silent screen to the movie goddess s of the silver screen, to the Baseball and Boxing greats of these great times, All of this because of the invention known as the Penny In The Slot.

12 Street Operators and Digger-Cranes By the early 1930 s coin operated Merchandise machines were being operated in the U. S. on a nationwide basis, also several other amusement game manufacturers were by now building Digger-Crane games, amongst them The Exhibit Supply Company. And International Mutoscope Reel Co., Inc. Both The Exhibit Supply Co. and International Mutoscope Reel Co., Inc. had been making various coin operated novelty games since the early 1900 s. The Exhibit Supply Co, early Iron Claw add from 1931

13 The success of the Digger-Cranes would not only find popularity in America, but also in Europe, Exhibit cranes were produced under license in France, while in the U. K. International Mutoscope had licensed the Mutomatic Biograph Company, who were already making the penny-in-the-slot Mutoscope moving picture machines, several British manufacturers started producing cranes, Charles Ahrens and Jim Bryans were manufacturing cranes for distributors such as Freddy Bolland and The Burrows Automatic Supply Company. The Glasgow based Capaldi was selling Cranes, while in France Bonzini was building cranes under license from Exhibit Supply Co. it is claimed that Bonzini built more than 5,000 cranes during 1933 alone during the early 1930 s there were more than 33,000 cranes in operation in France. Automatic Age February 1937 Bonzini Brochure 1935 Bonzini and Bryans Cranes in a modern day private collection In the early 1950 s Freddy Bolland was buying up cranes from the French and British coin machine establishments for as low as 5.00 pounds each, he was able to do this because of the shortage and rationing of sweets (Candy) that were the main prizes offered from cranes in Europe, making the operating of cranes prohibitive for the amusement arcade owners. The enterprising Bolland was converting the French and British cranes into Working Models.

14 Exhibit Iron Claw 1928 Exhibit Novelty Merchantman 1930 Exhibit Iron Claw, Junior 1932 Exhibit 20 th Century Digger 1932

15 Exhibit Men of Vision promotional Booklet. Exhibit New Iron Claw 1932 Exhibit Rotary Merchandiser 1933

16 The Exhibit Supply Co, would go on to become the World s largest manufacturer of novelty games, in 1905 they would supply a complete arcade set-up for under $10, Exhibit Supply Co, Booth at the 1933 World s Fair Chicago.

17 Exhibit Supply Co, Radiogram 1947 Exhibit Supply Co, 4-Way Card Vender 1947 Exhibit Supply Co, Treasure Cove shooting gallery 1950 s.

18 The Exhibit Supply Co, Super Star 1956 The Exhibit Supply Co, Spanish Pool 1956 The Exhibit Supply Co, Skill Score 1956 The Exhibit Supply Co, Jitters 1956

19 International Mutoscope Co, Inc. was more well known for their Clam Shell moving picture machines. But like The Exhibit Supply Co, they quickly got into the novelty amusement end of the industry and became major competitors for the lucrative Craneland and Sportsland locations. Since 1895 Mutoscope & Biograph Reel Co, had been at the forefront of the motion picture industry, introducing motion picture theater legends such as Lowes and Foxto the industry.

20 Mutoscopes showing the stars of the silent screen Lional Barrymore and Charlie Chaplin A typical 1 cent Vaudeville located in New York City, in 1900

21 Mutoscope Add from June, 1931 Mutoscope Electric Traveling Crane 1932 ( Automatic Age trade magazine, courtesy Greg McLemore International Arcade Museum) Buckley Chicago 1935 Mutomatic U. K. Model Mutoscope Traveling Crane 1933

22 International Mutoscope Reel Company. Range of Products for 1938

23 International Mutoscope Reel Co, Love Pilot 1948

24 International Mutoscope Reel Co, Ace Bomber 1947

25 International Mutoscope Reel Co, Fishing Well 1948 One distributor that supplied amusement games to Arcades along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States was the Mike Munves Corp, who supplied both Mutoscope and Exhibit amusement games, but for some strange reason which is still a mystery today, is that he never sold Diggers.

26 The Mike Munves Corp catalogues were the most comprehensive in the U.S. they would fit out an entire amusement arcade from their vast warehouse in New York City. Mike Munves and William Rabkin were close personal friends and in 1962, International Mutoscope acquired the Mike Munves Corp.

27 . There was not an amusement arcade within 200 miles of New York City that did not have amusent games supplied by The Mike Munves Corp. Mike Munves, President The Mike Munves Corporation William Rabkin President International Mutoscope Reel Co, So between the Chicago based Exhibit Supply Co, and the New York based International Mutoscope Reel Co. they would dominate the Novelty amusement games market along with the Mike Munves Corp, for almost half a century.,

28 Also among the early Digger-Crane manufactures were Norwat Amusement Devices and Scientific Machine Corp, two Brooklyn, New York based manufacturers Buckley Chicago Digger 1934 Mills Novelty Co. S.S Merchantman 1935 There were several more Digger manufacturers from both New York and Chicago, but only Exhibit Supply Co, and International Mutoscope Reel Co, would stand the test of time, but even these two giants of the 1930 s would also close their doors during the changing times in the amusement games industry of the 1960 s. Next Week: Part Two. The Modern day Cranes from the 1960 s and their impact on the Arcade and Single site Industry through till the present day.

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