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Antique American Folk Art Carnival Wheel - Game of Chance - Americana - Wooden Gaming Wheel - Double Sided
Place your bets ladies and gentlemen, round and round she goes, where she stops, nobody knows. This wonderful old gambling wheel is a particularly colorful piece of our collective past... if only it could talk.
This carnival wheel came to me from an estate in Balston Spa, NY near Saratoga Springs. The owner said it had come from a casino around the lake in Saratoga which burned in the 1960's, and there's a lot of history regarding Saratoga and its casinos, much of it unclear after 1908 when NY passed the Hart-Agnew Law which banned gambling statewide. But wheels like this also traveled with carnivals and side shows, and the crate this wheel came to me in does have railroad freight labels on it, the newest from the 1950's, as well as the name Jack Burke in pencil. Packed away sometime around the mid 20th C and recently brought to market for the first time, this piece had newspaper from the first decade of the 20th C at the bottom of the crate it was packed away in.
The design is slightly different on each side, as is the placement of the brass pins, and the colors are still bright and vibrant. The geometric designs and pin striping are all hand painted, the flowers and gold numbers look like early decals to me. The central hubs are cast bronze. Extremely decorative.
I have had a mounting board and 'clacker' custom made after the original that allows the wheel to safely mount to your wall and spin... no muss, no fuss, I've done all the work. You can leave the board as it is (natural pine), or paint it to match your wall. You can also hang it with either side facing out, and easily switch it around for a different look. Use it to decide whose turn it is to do the dishes... or maybe some more interesting wager.
CONDITION is swell with normal expected wear. Please look at the photographs. There are some lead weights sunken into the wood around the perimeter that are original construction... not sure if they were applied to balance the wheel or 'improve' the odds. The crate is lacking its top and you can decide whether you want it or not. Measures 30" in diameter and 1 1/4" thick at the outside edge not including the pins.
It's fun to imagine these bright spinning colors mesmerizing crowds, whether they were gambling serious money at the casino or just trying to win Kewpie Dolls and Teddy Bears. Step right up! Enjoy!
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Marni Bakst, Verbank, NY
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