Mills Novelty Co. | Balloon Lung Tester




No doubt, Mills Novelty Co. were inspired by the interest in aviation, and manufactured the ‘Balloon Lung Tester’ in 1904. The 1912-13 Mills Novelty arcade catalog describes the Balloon Lung tester with the words, ‘Here’s a machine bound to be popular, because of the interest everyone is taking in aviation just now.’ The object of the game is for the player to blow into the machine and make the balloon reach the moon, which in turn makes the man in the moon light up and smile.


The Balloon Lung Tester is a unique machine in its own right. Like the Submarine Lung Tester, this is a small-scale model of an event. Instead of depicting a marine diving scene, this machine shows a hot air balloon launch. It is characterized with images of a crowd gathered around a papier-mâché diorama waiting for the player to reach the moon. The entire machine creatively represents a hot air balloon complete with three carved characters in a wicker basket, accompanied by a character who rides on the top of the machine and attracts the players.


The inner diorama shows a launch scene in a small Greek style city. If the player can reach the maximum height of the moon, the scene will light up.


The mechanism in the Balloon Lung Tester gets its energy from a weight hanging on a string in the ma- chine. This weight automatically resets the machine and lowers the balloon to the starting position when a penny is inserted.

Read more in No Tampering! A Guide to Papa's Re-creations.

John with Jasper Sanfilippo at the time of delivery of the Mills Balloon Lung Tester. Mr. Sanfilippo has added many of Papa’s re-creations to his vast collection.

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