In the early 20th century, all it took was a nickel, or maybe a dime, to bring to life the vending machines, gambling devices and other coin-operated mechanical amusements in “For Amusement Only,” an exhibition on view through October 10 at the Morris Museum in Morristown, New Jersey.
My slide-show about the exhibit first appeared on CNBC.com, but here’s a preview of some fun arcade items from the show:
The Seaside Musicians played several melodies and had wooden cams to provide animation that allowed the musicians’ heads to turn from side to side and their arms to play the musical instruments. A coin would buy about a minute-long performance.
Some machines offered a few minutes of music or entertainment in exchange for a coin, others delivered products such as postage stamps, tobacco, cigarettes and sweets.
The Automatic Chicken clucked and dispensed (from its rear end) either an actual hardboiled egg or an egg-shaped tin with candy or treats.
Fortune telling machines based on early models such as this one, called “Grandmother Predictions” (circa 1932), can still be found in some modern-day arcades
See the full For Amusement Only slide-show here.
(All photos courtesy of the Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey)