This page will document a recent
purchase and project.
Well this is it.
An original Genco Grandma Fortune Teller was altered to become this
This was not created by the factory, but done sometime later after the
teller was built and sold.
It was used to promote Rubbermaid products at homeware retailers and
possibly industry shows.
Though an argument could be made to keep it as it was altered and
restore it. I
have chosen to restore it back
it's original condition as sold and document the change made to it
here. The most obvious change made, was to
marry it to a custom movable advertising platform it sits on.
It is part of this particular units history.
Here below are a few exerts from newspaper advertisements:
The Weirton Daily Times from Weirton, West Virginia on March 4,
<>Demonstrated all week -3rd Floor * Our Steel
Exhibit Our window displays Wheeling Steel refuse containers. New
combining color with the strength of steel. Gypsy Fortune
gypsy fortune teller display . . just press
button for your
fortune and free gift. Displayed all this week · Third Floor
The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on September 12, 1965
Stainless steel, removable drip
tray. SEE OUR
"RUBBERMAID" GYPSY . . . learn what
your " future holds, could be a free gift! She's located near the
Mrs. Hazel Reik will demonstrate this rotisserie . . . sample some
the "barbecue" flavor! Small Appliances, Sixth Floor, also Tri-County
I was unable to find a photo of
it on location, so if you have one please send it to me or any other
information about it's "life" before now.
Though it will be restored to it's original condition before it was
altered, this is part of
this one's unique history.
Along with the alteration to it's cabinet, customized fortune cards
were dispensed, one will be displayed here later.
The Genco Gypsy
Grandma fortune teller is one of the most sophisticated animated
fortune tellers ever produced.
It is based
on an earlier turn of the century (patented 1896) Roover Brothers
fortune teller which was not electrified, requiring the patron
to pull a large handle on the right side. It had 7
movements versus the 8 that the Genco Gypsy Grandma has.
Here is the fortune
teller and patent drawing from 1896, it is very rare and valuable
On the Genco Fortune
teller there is a
‘Microphone’ (looks only) on the upper left glass
area, on most of them..
A patron is suppose to ask Grandma a question that requires a Yes
they can also just think it!. A dime is then inserted and Grandma wakes
up. As it starts Grandma appears to start breathing her chest moving in
Her head moves and her hand moves. Her left hand moves over to a drawer
a cabinet located on that side, and opens it.
Now with her right hand she
reaches over and carefully actually selects a fortune card, gently
from the now open drawer.
Then Grandma brings the card over to a black caldron on
the floor in front of her and drops it in! There it falls through the
arrives in a chute in the cabinet front door for the patron to take! Though that wasn't enough Grandma now blows
a kiss and goes to sleep waiting for the next question. This
animatronic like /
automaton figure is wonderful and considering it’s based on a turn of
century design it’s amazing, This particular Genco was altered and used
enhance Rubbermaid sales at retailers and industry shows. The plan is
restore it back to when it left the factory in 1957 or at least as
Here the original ad
appearing in the May 18, 1957 Cash Box magazine Showing Genco's
Here and on the original flyer it clearly indicates the width and
height (only 46" high) Because the stand was optional.
You will notice the front door is different then most you will see.
This because early machines used a different coin mechanism replaced by
NRI mechs later.
This Ad from 1958
Here are a few examples of the fortune teller on it's optional base.
The photo on the right is a current arcade location in Canada
I am looking for the coin return knob, lever, card chute and coin
box for this game.
A lot of it replaced by a button to start the fortune teller
as mentioned in the advertisement text above.
So, if you have a parts game, or loose spare parts around and have any
of these things you would part with contact me.
The process has begun to turn back the clock on the changes made to my
Though not seen in this photo the oak trim has been restored to the
cabinet, as has the correct front door. Final imperfections are being
Once the cabinet is primed, the stone effect finish will be applied.
After that chestnut lines will be added to the lower cabinet's three
I did a test and have chosen not to add splatter paint to the
finish. (I like the clean look of the base, no color was found on
the original base when stripped)
In the above photo, the orange and green stripes have already been
the sides, however they are covered to protect them from over spray.
Since I didn't have the original brass rods, it was suggested to use
threaded rods through hollow 1/2" brass tubing, securing it on the oak
side with a nut and washer.
Instead I came up with a slightly different solution. It will appear as
it did originally.
The screw comes up through the oak into the coupler, which the threaded
rod is attached to.
Here is the unrestored original pedestal base I purchased to the
left and on
the right the restored pedestal base with pole.
Rubber edging has been added to both pole ends.
Note: this base is different than most you will see, it is threaded for
1 1/4" pipe and
the edge is scalloped not flat, plus no color was found on it.
I used 4" truck exhaust pipe to cover the threaded pipe which
attaches to a flange on the cabinet bottom.
This is a very early base for the fortune teller. The fact that no
found on the game cabinet, it seems to be what would have been sold for
I have chosen to put the color stripes on the sides along with the
lines on the lower cabinet area.
This is the character platform removed from the cabinet. It is
secured to the cabinet mounting strips with 3 screws,
also a bracket in the corner cabinet. The wiring harness is connected
with a 8 pin plug above the fuse block near the coin counter.
This harness supplies power and control to the character relay, lights,
The low voltage circuit is located in the bottom cabinet,
supplying 6 and 30 volts.
Assuming the lighting board has not been permanently attached, removing
it by unplugging the 3 pin connector and starter,
located in the top of the corner cabinet makes it much easier to lift
the character board out and re-install.
Though most restorations of this fortune teller have reproduction
dresses, normally with a gold top, this is an original, obviously not
Unfortunately the front of the top is not in very good condition,
as shown here, badly faded and it will have to be re-done.
This is the detail of the lace and ric rac used on the dress.
These are the original cameo earrings for the Gypsy Grandma
The stones in the settings are 3mm. The top stone on the left was
missing and was replaced
Note: there is a left and a right
The cabinet is in pretty good
shape now, moving on to the rest.
The original coin mechanism is a series 600 National Rejectors Inc. 10
cent mechanism as shown below.
It has a unique feature when implemented allowing it to not accept
dimes if the game power is off or it's out of cards.
I have restored the function but found the coin mechanism considers
modern dimes equal to slugs and rejects them.
However I did test and adjust it with silver dimes and it works. (more
on how this works later) The game and door must be level.
So, I have adjusted it to accept all dimes effectively disabling
the functions I just mentioned.
Most likely all Gypsy Grandmas have this function disabled at this
point. Either by removing the "Door Coil" as
designated on the schematic for the fortune teller, or by just
disconnecting it, and adjusting the coin mech to accept all dimes..
The "Magnet" in the drawing is the electromagnet on the coin mechanisms
mounting bracket , again, called "door coil" on the schematic. powered
Here is the dress being repaired. As I mentioned before, I am
convinced the original dress on my machine included a RED versus gold
The plan, remove the skirt portion and repair the top, actually
The first step was find materials that are the same or as close as
possible to the originals used.
I purchased a few different sample red satins, after searching. The one
shown below has a heavy backing as the original and is a very close
match to the color.
Next, came finding new Ric Rac and lace.
On my dress the Ric Rac (metal trim) looked to silver versus gold. All
the gold dresses have gold.
Once the original dress was disassembled and the back side of the trim
could be seen, it originally was gold!
I was able to find the exact Ric Rac from a supplier in the UK. However
the lace was not able to be found.
So....very carefully the original lace was removed from the dress and
Here is the start of the repair
The lighting effects the color of the top, under normal lighting
the color is more like the one below.
Here it's almost done , once finished it will be re-joined to the
original skirt , which has been repaired.
You'll notice the collar is not finished , nor is the bow in place yet.
Here both halves of the dress have bee joined back together.
On the dress bottom, the original Ric Rac and lace was carefully
removed, new original Ric Rac was put back with the original lace.
I am fortunate that the skirt portion was in fairly good shape. There
were a few small holes, these were repaired using a special fabric
Those repairs will arrest and further deterioration in those areas.
The choice was made not to use reproduced fabric but to save the
original and repair it.
I have seen some of the skirts on these dresses just fell apart.
I need to thank my Wife and Daughter for their help in completing this
part of the project. Though I have a lot of skills, sewing is not one
I did however make the pattern my wife used. The blouse , not a simple
thing to make as each arm is different....look at the photos.
That is not a mistake. The arm that picks up the card is longer, the
arm that opens the draw shorter
While I'm thanking those that have helped make this happen ....thanks
Joe in NY for all your help.
It's finally back together. I have some more things I want to do with
it....but that will be in the future,
More photos and info later.
To Project Page