History of the Bryans Works

Complete listing of Bryans machines

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Other Bryans Machines

This page contains some details of games and machines which do not fit into any of the other categories.
 

ODD CLOD (1927)
The Odd Clod was Bryans first machine.  None are known to have survived and it never appeared in any catalogue, so it is likely that it was only an experimental machine.  Of course, he may have made a few, and one may yet surface.  Unfortunately, there are no photographs of the Odd Clod, but a few details are known:

It was a game where the player tried to project a coin into a catching cup.  Similar games do exist, such as The Smithy where a coin was projected into a receptacle and returned to the player if successful.  Bryan's game had two coin slots, one for a penny and one for a halfpenny.  So right from the very beginning Bryan was offering something extra.  Inserting a penny gave a 'better' game.  Exactly how it was better I don't know, perhaps an additional element was involved to make it more interesting, or perhaps it was easier to win with a penny?  The main problem with the Odd Clod was that a skilled player could always win!  Bryan learnt valuable lessons from the Odd Clod, the main one being that games have to be much more difficult to play than they look!
 

MAGIC ILLUSION VIEWERS

These three unusual machines performed a magic trick or illusion. The machines were set in motion by inserting a coin and turning the handle. The illusions could be viewed through windows on three sides of the cases, and were most fascinating and baffling to watch A running commentary was also displayed to explain the trick as it was performed.  The machines were not a commercial success, despite the novelty of their conception. (Photos courtesy S.Stern)  Values: £1500-2000

DISAPPEARING DISC (1948)
 
The empty glass jar is covered by a metal sleeve, and then swings over to the right to cover the disc (which can't be seen clearly in the photo). When the metal sleeve is raised the disc has disappeared. The sleeve then lowers again and when the jar is lifted the disc has returned.

STRING CUTTER (1948)
 
The length of string is pulled from side-to-side through two cylinders. A blade then descends between the cylinders, which draw apart to show that the string has been cut. The cylinders then rub together to 'mend' the string, which is then pulled from side-to-side again to show that it has been restored.

MAGIC SPIRALS (1948/1984)
Also known as the
DYE WORKS.
Bryans only made a single prototype of this viewer in 1948, and the machine never found its way into the penny arcades.  After William Bryan's death the factory produced a few of these machines for collectors only. The effect produced is of a colour-changing optical illusion. As the wire passes through the 2 collars, it appears to change colour.

               

Close up views of the Disappearing Disc, and the String Cutter   (Photos courtesy W. Tear)

These are the last three Magic Machines to leave the Bryans factory, before it burnt down in 2000.

The serial numbers are:

The Disappearing Disc - 241

String Cutter Extraordinary - 242

Magic Spirals - 243

(Photo courtesy N.Gage)

WATERFALL (1933)

The constant stream of coins tumbling down the playfield of this machine resembled a waterfall - hence the name.

The mechanism was driven by an electric motor, and the object of the game was to insert a penny into the slot, which opened a shutter over which the falling coins were passing. The idea was to time the opening of the shutter so that the maximum number of coins would be returned to the player.

I have never seen one of these machines, but it must have been a very attractive sight in an arcade, with all those pennies constantly tumbling down the playfield.

BUMPER (1935)

The Bumper was a coin-operated version of the popular fairground Striker.

Play consisted of hitting the lever at the bottom of the machine, to drive a projectile upwards and along a vertical scale. The machine would pay out according to the position in which the indicator came to rest.

Whereas the fairground Striker relied on brute force (and ignorance?) to drive the projectile as far as possible up the scale, with a 100lb lump hammer; the Bumper was designed so that skill was rewarded, rather than strength. The scale was 18 inches long, and had 28 winning positions: Eight 1s, twelve 2s, four 4s, three 8s, and a single 12 as a maximum prize. These numbers were distributed along the scale so that the player had to use skill to try and reach the required position.

Only 12 Bumpers were made, the smallest production run of any Bryans machine. Until recently, at least one Bumper was thought to have survived, but this claim now looks increasingly unlikely.
(Apologies for the awful photos, but that's all there is, and probably all there ever will be!)


(photo courtesy S. Parkes)


(photo courtesy D. Lavender)

POT THE COPPER (1933)

This is a coin rolling game, and consists of six pivoted tables with holes in them.
The object is to roll coins down the chute, so that they drop into the holes. Coins that have missed the holes lie on the tables to be won later. A coin dropping into a hole releases that table and all the coins on that table are returned to the player. The winning coin goes into the cash box.
Tables are restored by pulling the knob on the front. The tables are interlocked so that only one can be released at a time, therefore the machine will not pay out any winnings unless all the tables are in the normal position.
The nameplate at the back, and the coin chute are both removable and can be stored inside the case for transporting.
Pot The Copper sales leaflet
 (courtesy W. Tear)

NUDIST COLONY (1936)

This strange device consisted of a small wall-mounted box with a viewing lens on the front. The backflash advertised in large letters: "NUDIST COLONY - They are at work. They are at play. They are alive!" What it didn't say was that the nudist colony consisted of a colony of naked ANTS!!

The ants were live enough (and naked!), and the machine came complete with instructions on how to look after the nest and feed them. See the Instruction Sheet

The player's coin operated a time switch, which activated a lamp and allowed the ants to be viewed for a preset length of time.

The instructions that came with the viewer advised that the machine should be kept in an upright position and preferably screwed down! I can't think why!

(photo courtesy S. Parkes)

The Nudist Colony appears to have suffered from an identity crisis. The photos here show the machine with four different backflashes. The device was later marketed as THE LIVE PEEP SHOW, probably because the word 'Nudist' was causing offence to those gentle folk of a more innocent age!  The device is now commonly referred to by collectors simply as the ANT VIEWER, which is a pity, as Bryan's hilarious joke is lost in the process. The wordplay was essential, of course, to persuade a gullible and curious public to part with their money.  It is doubtful whether the machine would have enjoyed much success if it had been labelled 'Ant Viewer'!
(colour photo courtesy D. Lavender / A.Goldsmith)
Below:  Photographs of a Viewer showing the internal mechanism, and a close-up of the 'Peep Show' backflash variant.  The large wheel in the centre forms a time switch which is rotated by the coin.  The missing ants' nest would be mounted on the two metal runners seen near the bottom of the case.  Above that can be seen the two lamps which illuminate the nest upon the insertion of a coin.  (photos courtesy J. Peterson)
Click here to see an MPEG video clip of the mechanism.  (courtesy J. Peterson)

BRYANS KIDDIE-RIDE (1953)
also known as the SOLO-RIDE

This coin-operated childrens' ride had three entirely separate forms of action to cater for children of all ages: 1) Simple Rocking Motion; 2) Galloping Action; 3) Hunting Action and Steeplechase. The motion was selected during the ride, by means of the lever at the front. Ride duration could be set by the operator to 45 seconds, 1 minute, or 2 minutes.
(colour photo courtesy Sharp's Penny Arcade)

Right: This photograph from the Bryans museum shows the surprisingly complicated mechanism of the Kiddie Ride.  The machine was too complicated and expensive to compete with the other rides on the market at that time and was not a huge success.  
(photo courtesy S. Parkes)
See the Kiddie-Ride working
(This is an AVI file and may not work directly on all browsers.  It can be played on Windows Media Player)

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This web site is copyright (C) 1999-2016 Melvyn Wright
A note about values: These were included on the site because 80% of emails received by me are of the type "I have xyz machine - how much is it worth?". The values are based on the best information available at the time, but they are subject to large fluctuations due to the condition of the machine, the case style, and the demand for it at the time of sale. There is no guarantee that your particular machine is worth the amount shown on this site. All values are in GBP (£).