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Circa 1930s Babe Ruth Mutoscope Reel and Machine
Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $3,190.00
Vintage mutoscope machine, manufactured by the International Mutoscope Reel Company, featuring a short "moving picture" of Babe Ruth. The first of the two scenes captures Ruth in uniform as he demonstrates his legendary swing. The second pictures Ruth as he dons boxing gloves and spars with his trainer. These "movies" were produced by means of a flip-book process. The insertion of a penny engages an internal gear that is attached to the exterior crank handle. By continuously turning the handle the patron rotates the reel and the "movie" is then viewed. The mutoscope, which is in perfect working order, is a countertop version and has been completely refurbished, including a bright coat of new paint. This particular machine has a unique provenance in that it was originally obtained by our consignor directly from hobby pioneer and cofounder of the Perez-Steele Gallery, Frank Steele. Evidence of its former ownership is displayed within its attached advertising sign which reads "Franklin Albert Steele Presents Real Movies! Old Time Sneak Preview - The Babe." Pictured below is a black-and-white photo of Ruth, with the words "Batting" and "Boxing" lettered along each border. While the metal framework for the display is original to the machine, the attractive placard and photo of Ruth are, obviously, later additions. Both the reel and machine date from the late 1920s/early 1930s. (Note: There are reproduction reels that have been made for sale for Mutoscope machines which are very popular with collectors. The reel in this machine is a rare original.) As anyone who has visited our office can fully attest, mutoscope machines are not only extremely attractive display pieces, but also captivating as well. We would fully advise the lucky winner of this piece to have plenty of pennies on hand for visitors, for it is a rare individual who can pass by this machine without succumbing to the temptation of cranking the handle and gazing back in time at the greatest sports celebrity in American history in action. The machine measures 12 x 15.5 x 40 inches and weighs approximately 60 pounds. The key to the side panel is included; however, the key to the bottom coin tray has been lost. Please Note: due to the size and/or weight of this lot, shipping charges may be substantial. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000. SOLD FOR $3,190.00
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