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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Morphy Coin Op & Advertising, October 15 -16

There was another impressive sale from Morphy Auctions, Las Vegas last weekend, not quite so strong on American arcadia this time, which is hardly surprising given the quantity and quality of May's offerings. However, there were a few more British and European coin-ops, many believed to have come, either directly or indirectly, from a well known British slot machine dealer. These included no less than three Automatic Sports Co. floor-standing, two-player games.


Rarities included the Scottish-made 1D Stanhope Automatic Machine Co. Cast Iron Electric Shocker. Apart from the little Bollands fortune tellers, which generally did well, prices on these British games were lower than might have been expected had they been sold in the UK.




Lot 53, was described as an English Caille Double Counter Wheel Slot Machine with a front presentation plaque reading "Presented to Walter Chandler for 15 years of outstanding achievements, 1916". If it was presented to the American, Walter Bradford Chandler, of the Bradford Scale Company (author of a Catalogue of Golden Opportunities, with Illustrations and Instructions how to Operate Coin-Operating Machines, 1913), why is it, at least partially English? The cabinet might be Circa 1908 (as catalogued) or a little later, but the upper castings are much later, probably by Clement & Whales Circa 1950s and certainly no later than the '30s. And what are lion-paw feet doing on a counter-top game? I've reclaimed two British counter-top games from the States with these feet stuck on them, presumably to make them appear a little more grand. Until someone comes up with a plausible story, I'm inclined to put this one in the liquorice allsorts box.


Lot 130, an English Mills Wizard Fortune Teller Arcade Machine was attributed to the Mills Novelty Co. through Minerva Automatic Co. Certainly these little wooden counter-top fortune tellers are stylistically more typical of British games than any other Mills product, but such an early collaboration between Mills Novelty Co. and a little-known British manufacturer intrigues me. Presumably the evidence is on the game's paperwork. Although Minerva Automatic Machine Co. are listed as makers of automatic machines, they specialized in bioscopes and were in business from 1909-13, rather later than the Circa 1904 catalogued date of the game.

Again there were errant attributions, presumably supplied by vendors, such as lot 256, the English Rooster and Hen Trade Stimulator (actually a chocolate vending machine by Richard Reichert of Dresden, Germany). Lot 1082, described as Oak cabinet wall game with a Golden Nugget background similar to the Electric Shock game by Jentzsch and Meerz was an Oliver Whales allwin with recently created 'fantasy' graphics.

A full list of realized prices is provided by Morphy Auctions. A much briefer list of British and European machines is in the Arena.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Morphy Coin Op & Advertising, May 14-15

Following a couple of the most impressive ever sales of coin operated machines, Morphy Auctions have assumed the mantle from Victorian Casino Antiques of market leaders in this field. They are very pro-active in rounding up fine collections to sell. I believe the predominance of horse-themed games in last weekend's sale reflected the collecting interests of one of the vendors. Some of the handful of European games, especially British, garnered exceptional prices.

Catalogue descriptions of these were a little wayward, with a Bradley Challenger oddly identified as an "English Penny Jennings Challenger Trade Stim" and 'The Hunt' described as "English... Possibly La Chasse Jentzsch et Meerz, circa 1907." So English, French or German? It is almost certainly German, Jentzsch und Meerz, late '20s to early '30s version.




The "English Payout Horse Race Game" was made by Essex Automatic Manufacturing Company, I believe, but I don't blame Morphy's for not hazarding a guess. That they got the right country was impressive. Perhaps someone read our discussion of these games. This example had an inappropriate modern carved pediment atop it, out of keeping with the game's date and style.




No attribution was attempted on another English horse racing rarity, described appropriately as a "Rare English Jackpot Horse Race Machine." This unusual example of a British-made gambling machine, designed by Walter William Burton of Birmingham (probably under the O.K. Novelty Co. badge) is not much better known here than in the States.



The most misleading information was attached to Lot 899, an "English The Racer Horserace Arcade Machine... Normally found in a much larger size, this small table top version is perhaps the only known example. Overall in very good, functional condition with an older restoration to the wooden cabinet with original interior fa├žade and exterior signage of a newer vintage." The vendor may have believed this when it was bought from the UK, but the accurate part would seem to be mention of the new top sign. This Doughty and Barrett game started as a mechanism only; the cabinet is new, there is no larger version, and several examples have survived. I doubt the vendor was disappointed by the sale price though.



Most remarkable result of the day must have been the "1¢ Artillery Duel Two Player Gun Game". This beautiful mermaid we know, thanks to diligent research of our members, would have started life as an Automatic Sports Co. Yacht Race. A truly impressive example of the British slot machine makers' art, it made considerably more than the "5¢ Caille Peerless Roulette," which is generally considered one of the finest vintage products of the American slot machine industry.



A full list of realized prices is provided by Morphy Auctions. A much briefer list, of British/European machines only, is in the Arena.

Friday, September 11, 2015

October's Las Vegas Coin Op & Advertising Sale

The catalogue for the next Las Vegas Coin Op and Advertising sale has just appeared online. The auction runs from October 16 to 18, 2015, and starts at 9:00 AM PT each day. View auction details. View online catalogue.

Only the Americans can stage slot machine auctions on this scale!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Rich Penn & Dan Morphy Auctions



Two Stateside vintage slot machine auctions ran simultaneously last weekend. The Rich Penn Advertising, Coin-Op & Country Store Auction, on May the 2nd to the 3rd, included just a few classic American slot machines. Meanwhile, the Dan Morphy Auction of Coin Op, Advertising & Arcade Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, ran from the 1st to the 3rd and included just about every significant classic American collectible slot machine made! There were also a few prize European and British machines.

Here are most of the latter, with hammer prices in pound sterling:
English Penny Greyhound Counter Wheel Machine (Clements Commercial) - £264
Roll Out The Barrel (Brenner conversion of J&M Domino) - £922
English Pistol Target Skill Game (Robbins & Co. Automatic Skill Shooter) - £11,189
Rooster and Hen Chocolate Vendor (Richard Reichert) - £1,974
Ball Drop Skill Game (Handan-Ni Bomb Dropper) - £461
Handan-Ni Four-Ball Countertop Game - £527
Love Meter - £231
Countertop Gipsy Fortune Teller - £494
Domino 3 Reel Dice Machine (Jentzsch & Meerz) - £2,963
Cycle Race Arcade Game (possibly originally Ahrens) - £3,294
High Score Ball Game (Oliver Whales allwin) - £247
Bryans Hidden Treasure - £626
Grand National Horse Race Game (Ruffler & Walker) - £2, 141
Bryans Spinning Clock Gambling Game - £313
Caille Ben Hur (Clement Commercial) - £560
The Little Stockbroker (Bradshaw wooden conversion) - £593
The Twins Floor Model Arcade Game (Bradshaw later version) - £11,855
Cigarette Allwin (Philip Shefras) - £264
Jungle Tree Climb Race Game (Ruffler & Walker) - £5269
Ahrens Marksman Shooter Arcade Game £15,807

Buyers' premium was 20% and of course, for anyone wishing to bring something back to the UK, there were shipping and import duties to consider too. An impressive sale but prices put much of it beyond the pocket of all but the millionaire collector. The prize piece was probably the magnificent Caille Peerless Floor Roulette, which sold for a cool $255,000.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Bernhard Deutsch Coin Operated Automata art auction

Amongst this morning's portion of Spam was an invitation from Fred Yao, of Hong Leong Bank, to help him invest funds of a deceased customer (to whom I'm apparently related), plus the following email from Kathleen Uttrodt of Schw├Ąbisch Hall:
We would like to recommend to you an exhibition in Germany: Bernhard Deutsch is a German artist. He is making art-machines since 35 years. In Schw├Ąbisch Hall you can see about 70 objects (insert a coin or press a button) from 12th of July to 15th of September 2013 (H├Ąllisch-Fr├Ąnkisches Museum). Finally all the objects are to sell - there is an auktion - happening. Have a look:

Here's the site with Google-garbled translation: http://www.nurzu.de/expo2013/
See also: http://www.nurzu.de/rundgang
and: http://www.nurzu.de/villa-wunderwelt




Unfortunately, the postage-stamp-sized images really don't do justice to the objects. Mr Deutsch (or Mr German, as Google Translate would have it) is a German Tim Hunkin, but with his own unique style.



All items in the auction start at 99 Cents with the hammer coming down particularly hard on any that don't get a bid. These will be promptly smashed to pieces after the auction. I'm hoping slot machine auctioneers will be following this initiative. I can't think of a better way to ensure sellers set sensible reserves and bidders remain alert.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Reel Amusement

Reel History


In 2006, I mentioned the publication of David Mead's Reel History, a comprehensive softback reference guide to American coin-operated machines from 1894 to 1980 with 425 black and white photographs. Six years later we have, at last, another new book on the subject from Tom Gustwiller, who previously authored For Amusement Only, a black and white hardback devoted to trade stimulators and other American countertop games.

Reel Amusement

Happily, Reel Amusement, is in full colour coffee-table format and covers over 450 machines (some never seen in print before). It even features the odd British game, such as Ell's Colonial Shooting Range. As with his previous book, the author seems to have taken a self-publication / self-distribution approach. As far as I'm aware, it is currently only available from the author (call 419-234-6133) or via his eBay sales (for $75 plus shipping).

Reel Amusement pages

Monday, February 07, 2011

Special When Lit

Special When Lit is a Raindance nominated, cinematic ode to the joys of playing, restoring and collecting pinball machines. It's available on DVD and blu-ray. Bringing together a bunch of famous pinball luminaries, including Roger Sharpe, Gary Stern and Steve Kordek, to name but three (see cast) - it looks a blast. I'm saving up for a high-def copy.