"Big Bronco" Coin-Operated Horse, ca. 1952

Value (2015) | $1,500 Auction$2,500 Auction
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GUEST:
Well, we were living in Fairport Harbor, which is along the lake, outside Cleveland. And we went to a garage sale one day, and I was kind of looking through some old books, and my wife was kind of standing like this, looking in the garage, and she kind of motioned for me to come over, and there was Big Bronco. We asked how much it was, and they said $100, and my wife, without missing a beat, said, "Would you take $75?" And the person said yes, and I thought, "Ooh, we should have said $50." We had to figure out how to get it home, so we borrowed a neighbor's truck, and I got on one end and she got on the other, and we tried to lift it, and this thing was going nowhere. So we ended up pushing it through the streets of Fairport on a dolly to get it to our house, and then we had to have, like, five guys come over to help lift it into our... we had, like, an entranceway, and we had it there. And it works. I mean, our kids rode it through the years, and still, adults have been on it, and we've had it in our basement ever since. We did find out that it came from Joe's Funhouse in Geneva-on-the-Lake, which is a kind of a turn of the century resort.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
That's where the guy said it came from, and it was in a funhouse there that they had, like, arcade games and things.

APPRAISER:
How many years ago was it that you bought the horse?

GUEST:
We purchased the horse in the early, like, 1990s. It was like 1992. We did absolutely nothing to it. I mean, this is the way it came on the dolly, and it's been that way in our basement. We haven't really touched it at all.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
Aside from play with it…

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
…and ride it.

APPRAISER:
Well, when we find commercial objects, oftentimes they've been heavily worn, or been restored, or been damaged beyond repair. And what makes this exceptional in my opinion is the great surface that it has-- that it really possesses this honest wear. Both on your side and my side, you can see that there's a tag that identifies the manufacturer of it, which was Exhibit Supply Company from Chicago, Illinois. This one's also identified as model number one. When we look at the paint here, just the original surface with the denomination in which it took, and we come up to the top and we look at the original leather saddle, the wear that occurred and how the paint came off, all these high points where kids' hands would go-- honest wear.

GUEST:
Well, we have five kids, and they all have ridden it.

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
I mean, the oldest is in college and the youngest is in second grade.

APPRAISER:
Yeah. So how it would work would be you drop a coin in the slot.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And you could pull the reins. It would be in a gallop. And then if you pulled the reins, which is not actually working right now, it would turn into a trot.

GUEST:
Oh, I didn't know that, okay.

APPRAISER:
So give you two speeds.

GUEST:
Interesting.

APPRAISER:
I think in this surface, the way it sits, at auction, we'd put an estimate of it of $1,500 to $2,500.

GUEST:
Excellent.

APPRAISER:
Good, shall we see it play?

GUEST:
Sure.

APPRAISER:
All right. We drop the coin in here, which triggers it.

GUEST:
And there goes Big Bronco.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Witherell's
Sacramento, CA
Appraised value (2015)
$1,500 Auction$2,500 Auction
Event
Cleveland, OH (July 11, 2015)
Category
Furniture

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