Picked these up a toy vendor at a fair. I am told they are 47mm superballs. I don't believe they are made anymore. I'm impressed with the detail of the scenes. The one with the balloon shows a river, bridge, farm, roads, train, and possibly more. The scale (backgound compared to foreground balloon) works well. The same can be said about the sky diving scene.
click to enlarge photos
I saw these when I went on line trying to find out who makes the ones above. You can see more pictures on this person's flickr page:
For anyone not familiar, German toymaker Schleich makes quality, hand painted action figures. Some of my favorites are the African safari animals, the whales and the sharks. I saw this display last January at FAO Schwartz in its NYC flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Schleich had recently released its Animal Nursery. I love the structure and design of the piece. It's made of plastic, but still looks pretty good. Also, part of the roof comes off, which provides a good view into the model.
At the time I had only my camera phone, but was still able to capture the spirit of the piece.
I came across this a few months ago at the weekend flea market on 24th street (between 6th and 7th avenues). I don't know much about it. It appears to be home made. There are no significant markings on the piece (though I haven't opened it, and don't intend to - I don't want to damage or alter it). Most of the ship dioramas I've seen are much larger. (I'll post some in the future).
I think this one is well done... dark stained wood - nice, well proportioned ship and good details (like the water/waves). I like the hand made look.. The ship masts look like they were made with toothpicks.
I am fascinated with vintage magic paraphernalia because they are both aesthetically appealing and functional - they facilitate illusion. I like the dark woods, the deep rich red velvets and silks, the polished metals and the muted- color printed playing cards. It all reminds me of a dark Victorian theater - like those in which these illusions might have been performed. These clever devices are nice to see, but they are even more interesting because they enable illusion. In some cases they are not what they appear to be, and in others, they may have hidden chambers, fake parts, or false walls.
Here are some beautiful objects and photographs (from the web) and a Japanese illusion box that was given to me recently (owned by a late cousin of mine, who was an artist and magician).
The Cups and Balls is one of the oldest magic routines in existence, believed to date back to Roman Times. There is a whole museum in Texas (real and virtual) devoted to the topic. It has fine examples of the variety of designs that exist. Cups and Balls Museum.
A atomaton of a magician. There are versions of this piece in existence. Typically the conjurer lifts the hat to either reveal or remove an object (usually more than one, depending on the complexity of the machine).
Japanese Ilusion Box (and silks)
Photographs in this series: Tom Casesa
I consider this quite a find. After taking it apart I discovered that it was made by Mikame Craft, which is still in business. My guess is that it is from the 60s or 70s. The box (the outer shell and the inside draw) allow the magician to make various objects appear, even after being examined and being found to be empty.
When I received the box, it contained to colorful, vintage silks representing playing cards - the Queen of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds.