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The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated Machine Information Site 



                                        Wondermatics, 780 Tottenham court rd , London



Early in the 1950's Trudah Walter (Jack) Glover founded "Wonders Walls" which would be based in Edmonton and at 780 Tottenham Court Road, London.  Jack was always one for lightheartedly misleading people for a laugh so tracking down the truth after all these years is not easy but despite rumours that he was born in New Zealand, the fact is he was born in Bethnal Green London. "Wonders Walls" soon became "Wonders Automatics" and later "Wondermatics".


Despite producing a large and varied number of machines the company was never big, five or six regular staff were assisted by the same number of casual workers when needed and parts like cases were made by a third party (the early squarer cases were made in house). 

Jack was clearly interested in his work and was never one for just turning out machines just to make money. He patented at least two improvements to allwin mechanisms and in later years insisted that only he had designed and painted the original backlash designs on his machines and there is no reason to believe this was not the case.. He was also keen to produce machines with unusual play features rather than the standard circular ball runs and central ball galleries. Some of these worked better than others (depending on whether you were an operator or a player) The very unusual "boomerang"  had fantastic artwork and unusual ball runs....but was near impossible to win on, the unique "Bucket & Ball" was not an easy win either, but boy they sure looked good and encouraged the punter to play...but, perhaps, not with many coins.

The quality of Wonders machines was always good and they were reliable but its the variation in themes and colourful artwork that makes them so collectable today. Jack clearly enjoyed doing the artwork many of which were fairground themed, sometimes he would include real people he knew from the trade as in the "Patsy North ", Chipperfields"  and "Murphy Amusements" machines. Jacks family still has several framed prototype backslashes that were never used. 




             I've left this photo big as it shows some of the best and most typical wonders artwork and it shows the much talked about Wonders logo (insert), is this  just a hand-drawn "BW" or, as some say, a little near the mark joke typical of                                                          Jack Glover? I doubt anyone will ever really know


In the late '60s, the company fell foul of the times, The introduction of decimal currency cut the number of new machines being bought dramatically, this coupled with a large order of 200 machines sent to Rhodesia at exactly the same time as a government trade embargo was slapped on that country meant that the machines sat on the dock in Africa until they disappeared at a great financial loss to the company.

By 1970 the company was doing little more than decimal coin conversions to older machines but recent evidence suggests these were very small in number and the company closed its London sites and moved (in a very small way) to Norfolk. Jack carried on doing small jobs until 1974 when the company finally petered out.

Jack died in 1979 and his wife followed him in 2004 but he left behind a wonderful, colourful legacy of over 50 different known machines (and more out there somewhere) many with instantly recognisable artwork that will go on pleasing young and old alike for many years to come.

Jack once said he had paintings in more galleries around the world than any other artist, well those galleries were, of course, amusement arcades but ,after all, that's where they looked there best


               Below are just a few of the Great "Wonders" machines



                                            "24 Cup"                                                                                    "Boomerang" 

        A pretty standard allwin by Wonders standards but             Just about the most ambitious allwin ever made 

                 unusual with 24 cups and a huge case                                                  but it didn't play well


                                                                    " Cannon Balls"                                                                            "Quick Returns"

           if Boomerang was the hardest to win on then this                            this machine came out in response to R&W's

            machine was the easiest. Jack really went to town                           column fillers offering "no columns to fill"

                                        on this artwork


                                          "Honest Joe"                                                                         " Spin  n  Win"

                  one of the best known Wonders machines                     another attempt at something new. this

                with great artwork a large case and 24 cups                  machine at least made the player think he was

                                                                                                                                           using his skill 


                              " Chipperfields coconuts "                                                                     "Lido"(Rare)

           Jack often included the names of his friends in                     This is my favourite Wonders machine

     the amusement business, this one is for the famous                smooth play, a good chance to win and great

                                        circus family                                                              artwork with an art deco feel




                                     "Game Shot"                                                                                  "Chip or Bust"

           Game shot tried a couple of new features                                  yet another attempt at a something new


                                           "Tower Bridge"                                                                                "Win and Place" 

              the much sort after "Tower Bridge" great artwork                                 one of Wonders best sellers and 

                                       but not an easy win                                                               most remembered machines


                                          "Wonder win"                                                                                      "Pioneer"

             Said by some to be the first wonders machine                           This Pioneer must have been one of the last 

           but, as yet, there is no hard evidence to prove it              Wonders machines made judging by the late model case



                                                                                             "Big Wheel"

        With artwork like this is it any "wonder" that Jack Glover's machines are much sort after and sell for high prices 


                                                 "  Patsy Fair  "                                                                          "One Fruit"

                    Another machine featuring one of Jack Glovers                       Surely the only allwin themed on a

       acquaintances from the amusement world, Patsy North                                    one-armed bandit

                              who owned Battersea funfair   


                                            "Steeple Chase"                                                                            " Ringola"

             this large case machine has artwork similar in style                                 Chipperfields again                             

                                                   to "Lido" 


                                                Wonders win                                                                          "Dropacopper "   

                                a later  version of "wonders win"                              a rare departure from the allwin world                                                                                                                                           was this coin drop machine from the late 60s                                                                                                                                   this proved to be a popular machine but did not                                                                                                                                              convert well to decimal coins    


                                    " Pools"  (Norway)                                                                                 "Bonus" 

          this well-preserved version turned up in Norway                       Wonders were always keen to point out their

                complete with all the text in Norwegian                                               extra features to the punters   





                                                                 With ten pin bowling arriving in the Uk in about                                                                                                                           1963 and this machine featuring the older pub game                                                                                                                       of  nine pins we can only assume this machine dates                                                                                                                                    from between 1955 and 1962




                    If "Boomerang" was the hardest allwin                                 "Face the Music" was a late model

                to win on then "Bucket & Ball"  was a close                               using a different backslash on 

          2nd, the ball needs to bounce off the rubber plugs                       a "win and place" style machine

                                   to enter a win hole



           The oddly named "Kum Fishing" appears to feature Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong who recorded the song                                        Gone  fishing in 1952 some 10 years before Wonders released  the allwin version



             "Hit & Run"  This baseball themed machine is                  The young ladies featured on "Netball"

      a rare choice for the very British "allwin" type machine          look more like the sexy volleyball players

                                                                                                             of today than the netball players I remember 

                                                                                                                                             mid 50's



              Always one to keep abreast of the times "Space Shot" & "Rally Ball" have the 60's written all over them.

                                         "Space Shot" 's artwork  must be as good as any allwin ever made



                 "Flyover" might seem a bland and boring theme to young people today but when this machine 

                                                      came out most people in the Uk had never seen a flyover!!



                                   Sometimes the names given to Wonders machines have a bit of an "afterthought" feel

                                                                   about them. None more so than "Diggins"



            A little over  half the known Wonders machines are featured here, we hope to add more                                           soon and would appreciate any photos we could use