A Mid 20thC Hand Painted “Penny a Go/Slot Machines” Double Sided Fairground Panel Canopy Bracket Sign

Origin: English
Period: Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1940-60
Width: 27 inches
Height: 22.5 inches

The bracket shaped hand painted fairground sign designed to draw in the crowds at fairgrounds in the mid twentieth century from a fairground stall, with ‘Penny A Go’ to one side and ‘Slot Machines’ to the other, painted on a sunshine yellow ground with scarlet red border.

Suspended from the original iron mounting brackets, the panel has paint flaking to several areas and scuffs commensurate with age (it was of course part of a travelling troupe) but structurally it is sound.

Travelling arcades of slot machines were late on the fairground scene, not appearing until the 1920s. Local bye-laws often forbade 'games of chance', and the police were very active in stopping them.  Early versions which successfully slipped the legal net included the bagatelle, football games and What The Butler Saw. However, the most excruciating was undoubtedly a variation of a machine called Test Your Grips: you clasped a handle which gave you an electric shock with one hand; with the other you turned a dial to increase the power of the shock! Arcades are now much more sophisticated: oldies such as Crompton's Cake Walk still exist, but you'll usually find state-of-the-art computer games side by side with one-armed bandits.

Many people are fascinated by fairground art and by the gorgeously painted and carved creatures that enchanted us from a young age. The world's finest collection of fairground art was amassed in the 1960s and 1970s by Lord and Lady Bangor when it was generally undervalued and underpriced. When Christie's auctioned their collection at Wookey Hole, Somerset in 1997, the sale attracted huge interest and massive sale results. Collectors flocked not just because of the finery of the collection, but because it is now quite rare to find or be able to purchase fairground art in the open market.

Not quite a penny, but affordable decorative fairground clobber all the same.