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GameRoom Review of Pinball Ad Catalog Volume 1, 1931-33

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Following here is a review of A Catalog of Early 30's Pinball Ads, published in the December 1997 issue of GameRoom magazine. That was the original name of the book. It has since been re-released as Pinball Ad Catalog Volume 1, 1931-33. The review was written by GameRoom publisher Tim Ferrante.The article is reprinted with the permission of GameRoom and may not be reproduced or copied in any fashion without the prior consent of GameRoom.

Contact info:

GameRoom Magazine
P.O. Box 1718
Land O Lakes, FL 34639-1718

Phone: (813) 996-1840


A CATALOG OF EARLY 30s PINBALL ADS compiled by Terry Cumming. (No ISBN Number) 190p, spiralbound, 8 ½ x 11, illustrated, b/w.

Brought to us by Canadian pinball hobbyist Terry Cumming, this new collection of pinball imagery is culled primarily from original trade ads that appeared in The Billboard, a century-old industry publication still in operation.

Cumming has dug into the distant coin-op past and extracted over 150 hyperbole-filled pinball advertisements whose builders promised their new table would make operators rich and richer and richer-er and... .

Working within the years 1931-1934, the author has chosen a wide cross-section of games and manufacturers and devoted full-page treatment for each. In some instances he's included articles relating to the game depicted. These, too, are reprinted from The Billboard's pages and shed additional light on many forgotten games.

Each of the ads have been scanned and the arduous process of electronically removing fold lines and imperfections resulted in clean-looking reproductions. As for sharp detail in the playfield areas, the author states clearly in his Introduction that he was able to perform just so much restoration. By having to rely on aged and yellowed source material, the results on some images are indeed murky, but overall reproduction is about as good as can be expected.

What's mainly at play here is the large chunk of early pinball information that can be had for a mere $15. It's formatted as if it were a catalog and is arranged alphabetically by manufacturer. All of the usual cast of pinball makers are present such as Gottlieb, Genco, Bally, and Rock-ola along with quickie outfits like Great States Manufacturing, Home Novelty, Success, Allswell and others.

This is a privately-produced book and Cumming's company, Pinnovations, has previously produced other pinball niche products including last year's Pinball and World War II. This new addition to his product line dovetails nicely with Dick Bueschel's Encyclopedia of Pinball Volume 1&2 which covers the topic through 1936.

As Cumming points out, "Because of (Dick's book), I made very little attempt to do any storytelling here, and limited this project's scope to only creating a catalog." And he has done so admirably.

© Tim Ferrante and GameRoom magazine, 1997.

Ordering information.

Ad Catalog description page.

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Last updated: May 6, 2005

© Terry Cumming, 2000-2005