Thursday, June 16, 2022

lining up the bagatelles

1: English bagatelle / 9 hole bagatelle (UK)
2: Japanese Rolling Ball / Tamakorogashi (Japan)
3: Cockamaroo / French bagatelle (UK)
4: French bagatelle (France)
5: Singer parlor bagatelle (USA)
6: Poolette bagatelle (Japan)

How did we get here?

Well before all of these you'd find the early billiards variants, including trou madam.  On table (1) there lies a set of wooden gates, allowing one to play trou madam and similar games on that table.  English bagatelle, with the inlaid cups, seems to have sprung up early 1800s.

In the 1870s there is evidence of tables like (1) being made with holes in parallel rows, akin to (2).  I think these tables were the inspiration for Japanese Rolling Ball, which came up around 1880 in Japan, 1902 in USA + Canada, and then about 1930 within Europe.

If you note the bottom scoring slots in table (3), you'll they're quite similar to the wooden gates available on (1).  A key innovation would be taking a trou madam table and putting it on an incline.  Shoot the balls up, and have them fall down in to the separated scoring arches.  I am currently unsure if that innovation predates English Bagatelle (1) but it also seems like the kind of innovation that could have happened at in a number of eras and in a number of different areas.

It can be easy enough to infer how the cups of (1) migrated along the playfield of (3), the pigeon hole arches going to the bottom, and then pins added as obstacles.

Table (4) adds a spring plunger on one side, and maintains a cue lane on the right-hand side.  Table (4) also has arches, which were an accessory to some billiards games going back to the 17th century at least, but were perhaps an innovation that was once again fresh at the time.  Bells are also a new addition.

Table (5) does away with the cue altogether, relying exclusively on a spring plunger.

Table (6) is an example of how for some games the cue was kept instead of a spring plunger.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

early 20th century bagatelle restoration

Check out this full bagatelle restoration by Old Things Never Die

This video is just guessing at the age being 1930s.  There is circumstantial evidence that models of these specifications, and with only a few slight variations, were sold at a famous Paris toy store.  

Remember this toy 9-hole bagatelle table I picked up?  That one at least had the Hamleys plaque on it, and I was able to find it in a picture from an old catalogue.  

For this new one, it seems the toy store that commissioned them had their labels in paper, which is very bad at surviving.  So we have an inference that this might have been sold at that Parisian toy store, as other copies were.  Based on the build and available information about the store, I'd only be confident in giving an estimate of 1900-1920s.

I guess I buried the lede there.  I was able to purchase this table from the restorer, and it has safely arrived from France.

Ball sizes

The game arrived with ~19.9mm steel balls, approx 25/32".  This would require a very full plunge to get some action from the spring plunger.  Steel balls would also not be good to launch with a cue from the right lane.

I tried 7/8" balls, which are 22.23mm, but those were too large.  If one ball was in a brass cup, another could be caught between the ball and the gate post.  I tried plastic balls and marbles, and using light balls made the plunge much better.

I have begun using 3/4" marbles.  That works fine for now, but 3/4"  is 19.05 mm.  I would like to try and find some more appropriate balls that get up to the 19.9mm size, if possible

Sunday, June 12, 2022

new scans: Encyclopedia of Pinball 1, Winds, WW2

Well will you look at that?  Bueschel's Encyclopedia Of Pinball has been scanned and put up on the Internet Archive.

Encyclopedia Of Pinball - Whiffle to Rocket 1930-1933 - Volume 1

This next one I was involved with.  I imported this magazine issue from Japan.   It covers Stern Pinball during their lowest years as the entire industry was almost dead.  (Be sure to flip the pages to the left, as it's read right-to-left.)

Winds 2002-08

This one is about WW2-era conversion kits

Pinball And World War 2 (2nd Edition)

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Let's talk arrange ball machines! (and say hello to Base Ball)

I saw this machine on YJA and eventually it was reposted at a good enough price that I had to go for it.  I am delighted that it arrived unscathed.  I've used companies like Buyee and FromJapan to get machines from Japan to Canada and so far the shipping services have been amazing. (knock wood for good luck here)

In this post I want to look at what led us to arrangeball machines, and a bit more about this style of arrangeball in particular.

I am currently working on creating a list of all of the elecmeca arcade games made in Japan.  That is a somewhat loose category which includes the mechanical & electromechanical, and basically just think of any kind of non-videogame arcade machine that you'd never be able to play on an emulator.  Part of that push is cataloguing all of the token-based and prize-based pachi machines, which includes arrangeballs.

So here's an ask for everyone:  If you have access to an arrange ball machine, I am super interested in your taxation tags to help determine the date it was manufactured.  If your machine has any manufacturer information pointing to date or company,  maybe on components inside, that is useful too.  Please let me know!

Pre-ww2, around the late 1920s, the earliest pachinko-style machines wouldn't award anything.  If you got it in a winning hole an operator would release it from the rear and most likely hand you a prize.   Some of the earliest payout machines would pay out sen coins.  Some pachinko-style games in the 1930s would pay out confectionary items.  By far the most common, standard pachinko machines would pay out in more pachinko balls.

~1940 子供パチンコ 自動菓子販賣機 (Children's pachinko confectionery vending machine) by セイコー社 (Seiko)
This is a candy vending machine for kids where they will always get a prize.  There is no "out hole".  You will see that a missed ball always returns to the player.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Canadian Coin Box 1993-07 (July+Aug 1993)

This magazine went off to a Gottlieb museum so I made sure to scan it.  Download or view at

Canadian Coin Box 1993-07 (July+Aug 1993)

This issue has a great 2-page spread on North Star and their machines Seabreeze and Richelieu, 2 Canadian pinball machines from 1949.  Read more about them over on pindude152's blog.

some more pics from maaca threads beneath the cut

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

more awesome scans!

My friend Sparky passed me a stack of paper ephemera and there was some gold in it.  Here are 3 of the highlights that I am pleased to share with the coinop community.  Click on each picture's text to get the PDF from the Internet Archive.

Canadian Coin Box 1964-05 (May 1964)

~1955 Laniel Amusement price sheets (3 pages)

Halgame information by Hal Computer Inc, [Longwood, Florida, USA] (8 pages)