We are all familiar with the grandmother fortune telling machines of the 1930's and 1940's, where for a penny you get a fortune card and also watch a life size mannequin go through her routine.
The success of these animated fortune machines in the 1930's and 1940's, convinced fortune teller manufacturers that you had to give a show to the patron along with a fortune.
When it became too expensive to continue making grandmother machines, other types of animated characters took their place. One of the more common animated fortune games is the 1950's Puppet Theatre. For five cents, the patron would get a thirty second show and a fortune.
The machines were sold with many different puppets so that you could change the show every week. There was a guitar strumming money, called Elvis; a happy faced bartender shaking a cocktail; a professor owl writing on his blackboard; Piggy, the cook, frying up a storm; Dolly the dressmaker on her sewing machine; and many more. They operated on a battery and could be put on a counter or pedestal.
Another animated fortune teller was the Kissin' Kupid. This machine features a boy and girl, who spin their heads and end up either kissing or spurning each other.
You insert a coin, push the button next to one of the 20 different "yes/no" questions and then watch to see whether the lovers kiss. If they end up kissing, your answer is "yes". If they don't kiss, the answer is "no".
The machine is electrically operated, with alighted marque and lights shining over the couple's heads. It is one of the more "cute" machines around. Everyone goes "ooh" and "aah" while watching the lovers kiss.
The popularity of the animated games led to even more sophisticated animated shows. The most fun to play and watch is Peppy the Clown, where for your nickel you would hear a lively song and musical score. You also got to manipulate a puppet by pressing a series of buttons that activated the arms and legs, trying to make it dance in time to the music.
For a list of books on arcade machines, go to GameRoomAntiques Bookstore
For a list of sport-related arcade machines for sale, got to: Arcade Machine Sales List
Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques
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