Pinball is many things: Commerce, gambling, history, reflections on social times, science and technology as well as art. In this episode, we take a look at some of the art. These are pictures I’ve taken of various games featured at the Lone Star Pinball Museum near Houston. Special thanks to Dan Ferguson for his hospitality. I hope you enjoy them!
For more than a year, I’ve been drooling over a particular pinball backglass I’d seen in a private collection. I finally managed to pick up the machine and am pretty excited. This is another daunting project: A pre-flipper, pre-WWII vintage woodrail pinball game from Genco. “Big Town” was produced in 1940, and as you can see from the backglass, it’s got a beautiful vintage art-deco look. To me a perfect example of how glorious pinball art can be.
Just north of Houston, there’s a very cool guy named Dan who has been collecting pinball machines for many, many years. We came out to visit him this year while in town for the Houston Arcade Expo and I took a moment to grab the video camera and make quick walk-through of his museum, which houses hundreds of games from the earlier pinball eras.
I know it would look better if all the machines were fired up, but we weren’t staying long and I didn’t want to trouble him to flip everything on. But you can get a feel for how many old games are in the museum, covering the earliest of eras in the 1800s and early 1900s to pre-flipper woodrails, bingo machines, EM woodrails and lots of classic 60s and 70s electro-mechanical games. Distinctions in the collection include all four versions of Bally’s classic “Fireball” game, Atari’s gargantuan game “Hercules”, rarities like “Spectrum”, “Asteroid Annie” and “Solar Fire”, and many very early games for which there’s very little information on how many were made. There are also lots of vintage EM baseball, shooting and aviation games. I plan to post more details in the future including some high-quality pictures. Once again, a huge thanks to Dan for his hospitality!