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Jeff Bridgman Antique Flags and Painted Furniture - EXCEPTIONALLY GRAPHIC AND COLORFUL RACE HORSE GAME WHEEL, MADE BY H.C. EVANS, CHICAGO, CA 1920-50
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  EXCEPTIONALLY GRAPHIC AND COLORFUL RACE HORSE GAME WHEEL, MADE BY H.C. EVANS, CHICAGO, CA 1920-50
Dimensions (inches): 85.25" tall x 60.25" wide x 13.5" deep
Description:
Elaborately embellished race horse gaming wheel, made by Evans & Company in Chicago. Each of the wheel's 10 panels are brightly colored lithographs behind glass, framed by lengths of decorative metal trim, cast from an alloy that appears to be comprised of copper mixed with zinc or aluminum. This may have at one time been nickel plated. The four crown-shaped center panels are fancifully paint-stenciled mirror, framed with the same trim and tipped with whimsical stars. Numbers that run around the outer edge of the wheel, which functioned like a ball-in-cage lottery, with payouts that alternated based on the changing number in the cylindrical tower. This is spring-driven and interesting to witness when in operation.

The wooden post that supports the wheel is polychrome-painted wood, has a cast steel, tripod base and breaks down for transport. The frame of the wheel is heavy laminate wood, 1 3/4" thick, with metal spokes cast from an alloy similar the trim.

The wheel is signed on the giant cast and nickel-plated washer in the center. This reads "H.C. Evans & Co.; Chicago, Ill." Established in 1892, the firm was incorporated in 1907. By 1909 it was located at 125 Clark Street. By the 1920s, it had moved to 1528 West Adams Street. In 1929 it claimed to be the oldest firm of its kind in existence and, at 52,000 square feet, maintained the largest factory in the world engaged in the exclusive manufacture of the types of products for which it was known.

When an Evans wheel was acquired, the purchaser bought whatever accessories were desired. Various types of odds boxes were available, some with two windows for a wider disbursement, some taller, some shorter, and some with none at all. Decorative finials and wing nuts were available, as well as various colors and styles of mirrors. Paint colors and other elements varied.

Many of these wheels were sold to amusement companies that rented them to speakeasies, race tracks, fraternal lodges, county fairs, and the like. This one has a cast aluminum numeral "3" nailed to the shaft of the stand, which was almost certainly added for identification in this sort of use. The size, weight, and frequent transport of these wheels meant that they were often banged around and repaired. Parts were replaced and/or swapped with others. In this way they were similar to portable carousel figures and other traveling amusement objects.

Interesting Notes: Beginning about 1914, Evans published something known as the "The Secret Blue Book", which included details of crooked casino equipment they supplied. By 1929 this had been discontinued because, according to a representative, "during the past several years this book has been copied and infringed upon by numerous unscrupulous individuals". The 1929 catalogue offered the firm's customers "special dice", "special prepared cards", and "electro magnets". Special dice included staples such as white or transparent "filled dice" or "shaped percentage dice" but also items said to be proprietary to the firm: "tapping dice", "gravitation dice", "new idea crap dice" and "novelty dice". In the case of special prepared cards, that is marked cards, the firm claimed to have been leaders in their manufacture since the end of 19th Century. The cards listed in the catalogue were "marked for size only"; to have the suit show as well cost a further 25 cents. Prepared cards also included "luminous readers" and associated equipment such as "ruby ray" glasses and visors or eye shades. The firm's "Giant Electro Magnet" was promoted as "the latest development in electromagnetism for the control of dice". It was available as a separate component or incorporated in a regulation 32-inch (810 mm) card table, and used with transparent "electric dice". Condition: There are all early Evans parts and workings throughout, save for a small wooden slat that keeps the two sections of the banister-turned post together. The paint and numbering around the outer edge of the wheel have been restored (more than once). The paint on the stand and odds box were restored. The metal throughout was corroded with calcium-like build-up, which we removed. The presentation is absolutely beautiful the most attractive I have ever encountered on an Evans example.
   
Primary Color: red, silver, gold
Earliest Date: 1920
Latest Date: 1950
For Sale Status: Available
Price $14,500
E-mail: info@jeffbridgman.com
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