A Rare Vintage Penny Arcade Fairground Sign Formed as a Giant Old English Penny


Origin: English
Period: Mid Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1940-50
Circumference: 76 inches
Diameter: 24 inches

Providing instant amusement is this giant fairground penny, two feet in diameter, modelled on the mint of 1862 illustrating Queen Victoria in her youthful splendour.  The detail is splendid, with the well-defined facial features cast sharp, right down to the folds on her majesty’s blouse. Having researched this unusual item we can find none other sold in recent times.

Almost certainly once used in a fairground penny arcade and crafted in a strong and dense fibreglass(?), condition is superb; there is some old patination to the whole and some rather evocative dirt surrounding the letters and numerals, which could easily be cleaned if so desired. There is no structural damage and there are three holes present for various mounting styles.

Penny arcades were once common at amusement parks and fairs but by the 1950s, such coin-operated amusements were generally replaced by more modern games of chance and skill. The earliest penny arcades from the nineteenth century had machines called bagatelles, a game with elements of billiards and modern pinball. Early penny arcades form the twentieth century included early forms of pinball and fortune-telling machinery of the 1930s, for which this sign would have advertised, and slot machines. Penny arcades later led to the creation of video arcades in the 1970s.

Drawing a crowd on the fairground or off it, this sought after sign would provide a hugely original decorative feature. One can almost hear the clink and the clunk.