La Giostra Du Re a work of art and an amusement ride

Hello again; As many of you know I love a challenge. I am not always successful, but I am willing to take on the extremely hard to place items. I especially love it when someone asks me to find a home for an item that has been for sale for a long time. Today, I bring you the rarest and most unusual piece of amusement equipment I have ever been asked to help with.

La Giostra Du Re

black and white photo of this italian amusement ride and work of art from italy for sale on the midway marketplace

This is a true historical treasure called the la giostra du Re or The King’s Amusement. I have been asked by its owner to try to find it a new home. He and its previous owner have had several offers to buy parts of it, but they refuse to break up this Italian treasure.

antique italian ride set up just the top half of the ride can be seen

It is all hand carved and dates from the 1850’s. The art work was all hand painted. This ride, if you can even think of it as a ride, started its life out wen it had to be turned by hand. Later they pulled it with a donkey and eventually about 1900 they made it a mechanical ride. It had 14 subjects and two gondolas or chariots. These were all hanging on the floor with room for two people to ride on every subject. In the beginning it was operated in the Italian King’s Gardens.

Ride’s History

one of the gondolas or chariots from the italian amusement ride

According to its owner this attraction was lost for a while. The subjects were found in a dark room near the sea side. A long time friend of his asked him if he was interested in owning it. He went to see it and meet with the owner who was a funny old man who told him lots of people had asked to buy it from him but they just wanted the subjects or the art panels but he wanted someone who was going to buy all of it.

Possible Royal Heritage

one of the figures from the ride

The previous owner told my client that there was a document in which the king himself had written that the amusement had been in the king’s court. So the seller went to find this person but he said this was strange because the gentleman showed him the document but refused to give my contact a copy of it. He told the current owner that he could give him the black and white photo you see here. He further told my contact that the amusement was built in the town of Mondovi and his father was the first owner of it. But at the beginning of 1900 he decided to sell as the amusement was getting too old for him to maintain.

After selling this one, he made a new one as a copy of this one. The current owner says he has seen some pictures of the copy and it is a very pale imitation of this amazing ride. I don’t have any of those pictures for compairson sadly.

Our Best Guess

Carriage woman 1

So he tells me that it was probably made around 1850 as some of the subjects are of the Italian army. He bases this on the fact that the army uniforms appear to be those worn by soldiers around 1850. The uniforms were changed after Italy was unified in 1861. On the picture you can see the woman with a crown. He tells me that this was the symbol of Italy in those days.

I don’t have any way to document these claims, but I have no reason to dispute them either. It appears to be a real treasure from a different age when men built things by hand and dedicated a lifetime to their crafts. The art work while a bit disturbing in subject could easily be part of a museum collection.

Are Scenery Panels

Scenery art 01

They appear to depict scenes from the time of the inquisition. Although that is only a guess. I would appreciate your opinion as to the inspiration of the art work. You can click here to watch a slide show of the rest of the art panels. I slowed it way down so you can really appreciate them.

In my opinion the ride belongs in a museum preferably one in Italy. However, I have been asked to find it a buyer, so that is what I will do. I hope you will help me with this task. As far as possible new homes it would be at home in an amusement park, larger family entertainment center, beach boardwalk, pleasure pier, etc. It could be used on a portable basis, but I believe this would take a showman or woman from a family with extensive experience in the amusement industry. The showman in me thinks Barnum would have loved to have something like this.

I should mention that the owner is Italian, and we have had to work together to understand each other. I haven’t had to use one of those online translation programs, but there may be some minor discrepancies. If there are, they are solely my doing and I apologize for them in advance.

Video Coming Soon

The owner tells me that he has a video of the unit in use. It is on VHS, and he is having it converted to DVD so we can add it to the listing. It was used many years ago as the backdrop for a movie featuring an Italian singing star. The ride isn’t completely set up in the movie because that is what the singer wanted; but you can see and hear the ride in operation. He tells me that in his part of Italy it will take a week to ten days to get the tape transferred over. I am looking forward to it myself.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing about this historical attraction and seeing the photos. Unlike most of my listings I don’t think you have to be in the amusement industry to find this one fascinating. If you did like the ride or the post or both, then please share it with your friends, family and coworkers. There are sharing buttons on the youtube video of the art work as well as here on this post. And thanks to my good friend Ashley from Mad Lemmings there are now buttons for you to connect with me on social media making it easier for the fans of these kinds of items to get news about them.

I love hearing from my readers. So, if you have a question or need help with something having to do with the amusement industry, please send me an email or use the contact form. I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks and take care, Max

8 thoughts on “La Giostra Du Re a work of art and an amusement ride

    • Hello; Thanks for your kind words about the king’s amusement. I agree it is a treasure possibly a national treasure. I don’t believe it will be destroyed if not sold. If breaking it up were what they wanted, they would have sold the pieces at auction or something a long time ago. I just received this piece in the last week, so I don’t believe anything will happen to it very soon. That is a good idea to reach out to the antiques road show. I don’t think they have been overseas but perhaps they could point me to a similar program in the United Kingdom or Europe. I wish I had contacts with more museums. Most of mine are with science and technology museums. Thanks for taking the time to check out this beauty and for leaving your great comment. Take care, max

  1. This is a truly amazing find, Max – I’d say that it definitely needs to go to a good home – to an owner who will appreciate its historical value and take good care of it. I tend to agree with you that it really belongs in a museum – and that it should also probably stay in Italy. I hope you find an appropriate buyer and wish you every success with it.
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    • Hi Sue; I’m glad you agree with me on the fact that this item needs to stay in tact and in Italy and preferably in a museum. I just wish I had some contacts in the art world that could help me get this item to the attention of the right people. There are some show families who have the history in the industry to appreciate something like this but there aren’t many of them. The one thing I do wish is that we knew who did the construction and who painted it. That information would really help. As it stands now a real collector would have to have someone research its history based on the style of work and materials used. I’m looking forward to the video. Thanks for wishing me luck. Take care, max

  2. We lose so much of the past it is great to find things of historical value.

    I know this may sound stupid to you, but my husband is interested in car shows,. He spends so much time watching them it drives me nuts. The latest programs that have come out are car shop owners that go out to buy cars, restore them and sell them. They go through the process of purchasing the vehicle, restoration and selling the vehicle. It has also become popular in England. Where I am going with this is that you have an interesting commodity and I think it would make a great tv series that it different and interesting. Just a thought…

    • Hi Arleen; Thanks so much for taking the time to check out the king’s amusement post and leave a comment. and you are a woman after my own heart. I have been wanting to start a show for a while now just not sure how to go about it. Also, i am almost totally blind so its not like I could go out and do it all by myself. I need funding and at least one person to help with all the production work. I’ve thought one of two ideas would work. The first one was yours where we go get a ride game attraction whatever and rehabilitate it showing the people at home the process step by step. And of course the whole time we would be building interest towards a sale. Perhaps i could pitch this idea to a ride owner and get them to pay. Only thing is I don’t know any equipment owners close by that would be willing to do that. My other idea is to go to people’s winter quarters and set up their equipment so good photos and video can be taken. Then pair that with visits to sites of local interest and interviews with industry leaders, family members, key employees, etc. Feel free to email me at maxwell@midwaymarketplace.com if you have any suggestions or ideas we could discuss. thanks again and take care, max

  3. This is wonderful Max. I love the fact that the current owner won’t break this apart – it looks like an historical treasure. Very beautiful. I do hope you find a way to ensure that it as a home where many can enjoy it. Maybe you could approach some Italian Museums?
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    • Hi Elle; So glad you appreciate how special the piece is. I have contacted a few museums, but there are literally hundreds of them in Italy. I don’t speak the language and am not sure which ones to start with. I did send some emails out asking if there was interest or if they knew of a museum I should check with. I was hoping for a better response to the post. I figured a lot of people would be looking at it. Thanks for your comment. As more people express their belief that it is an art treasure and their desire to see it kept in tact and in italy perhaps that will lead to a buyer. Take care, max

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