Flippers and juke boxes at La Monnaie de Paris, what fun!

parisdiaHappy moments, Technique2 Comments

“Mills Empress”, juke box, 1940 model, made by Mills Overtly Co.USA, collection Phonogalerie

“Insert Coin” is the story of two wonderful kids who love flippers and all coin machines. One, Nicolas Galiffi is a marketing consultant, specialized in pop culture, who loves and collects toys and games, the other Jean Baptiste Clais is curator of Asian collections and porcelains at Musée du Louvre. He also has a doctorate in social anthropology, teaches at Sciences Po and curated a show at Grand Palais, in 2010, on video games. They have been friends for years and love browsing the flee markets. When they went to see Catherine Monlouis-Félicité at la Monnaie de Paris with their project of exhibiting 40 machines, she was delighted. And she emphasized, in her presentation, her interest in publicizing all the different uses of money.  Their enthusiasm and their knowledge of the games and of museums did the rest. The show is great fun in that it encompasses the 1950’s to the 2000’s and is a sociological flash-back on the society of the time. Sports, music, visual arts are all included in decors of cafés with brilliant plastic floors and vintage accessories. And the visitor will get a few 1 franc coins specially reedited by la Monnaie de Paris so they can play with the baby foots and flippers or listen to music on the juke boxes. The show reminded me of the long hours I spent playing flippers in cafés when I was 14, feeling very grown up…

The contrast between the sumptuous decor of Salon Guillaume Dupré  in Palais Conti and the colorful machines is part of the success of the show

In the 1960’s, France becomes more urban and the suburbs get built up, with a young population who runs around on motorbikes and listens to music. They start playing with flippers and juke boxes in cafés. Girls and boys dance together in public for the first time. In the 1970’s, electronics enter the scene with video games such as “Pong” in 1973. “Breakout” is the first color game and “Space Invaders” comes out in 1978. Machines start to earn a lot of cash for the cafés who rush to get the new ones. It is a whole new generation which is described in this exhibition and in a way, today’s society has grown from it.

Curators Nicolas Galiffi and Jean Baptiste Clais are great friends and love to play games

I loved all the sociology included in the show with special sweets which all correspond to the decade: “malabar” chewing gums cost 0,50 fr, and “frizzy jazzy”, a bubble gum which fizzles in your mouth. The price of coffee, lemonade, wine by the glass and “casse-croûte” (sandwich) are written on the mirrors like in a regular café. This is to show how the young spent their money after playing… There are short videos showing the passion for flipper or baby foot of the champions and many superb vintage decors on the machines. I particularly liked the wallpaper and floor covering used by the decorator, Klapisch scenographes.

Baby-foort Champion, model of 1948, made by Stella, France, restored by Babylone, collection Gatsby entertainment, with the Seine as a background

It is quite bold of La Monnaie de Paris, the institution which mints all the French money, to organize an exhibition on money machines… The curators explained that in order to be able to use the machines in the show, they had to borrow them from private collectors since museum pieces are not to be touched. The lenders are Atelier du Flip, the Brussels Pinball Museum, a private museum,  Mo5.com, Gatsby Entertainment… And this is where I realized that there are fascinating collectors who live their passion in a private world of games and toys and can still be museum curators or academics!

Jukebox, Seeburg model 223, 1959, made by Seeburg Corporation, USA, collection Phonomuseum (all the records on it were selected by the two curators and can be played by the visitors)

When. I asked Nicolas Galiffi and Jean Baptiste Clais if they would come and spy on the visitors’ playing habits, they said they would try to come on the week ends… So you might run into them especially if you come on April 24 or May 15,  from 7 pm to 10 pm. There are a number of guided tours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Until June 6, La Monnaie de Paris  And if you are a coin collector, a number of Olympic moneys have been made by the 150 artisans of La Monnaie de Paris…

Central Park flipper, model of 1966, made by Gottlieb & Co., USA, collection l’Atelier du Flip

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2 Comments on “Flippers and juke boxes at La Monnaie de Paris, what fun!”

  1. Only you, chere Laure, could in one fell swoop whisk
    us from Down Under art and far away beaches to the sepia
    reminders of one’s youth in the form of pinball
    machines and juke boxes. Bless you and your
    magic wand.

  2. A savoir: un des plus grands et des plus anciens collectionneurs français de flippers et juke-box
    était le chanteur Christophe : exposition d’une petite partie de ses collections à la galerie Jean-Claude Riedel
    au début des années 1980 (rue Guénégaud, à deux pas de la Monnaie de Paris!!).

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