A slot machine (American English), known variously as a fruit machine (British English), puggy (Scottish English), the slots (Canadian English and American English), poker machine/pokies (Australian English and New Zealand English), fruities (British English) or slots (American English), is a gambling machine that creates a game of chance for its customers. In 1890, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold invented the nickel-in-the-slot phonograph, in San Francisco. This was an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph retrofitted with a device patented under the name of Coin Actuated Attachment for Phonograph. The music was heard via one of four listening tubes.
Do you have an old slot machine? Do you want one? If you do, it might be worth the search, as some can be worth quite a bit of money. Slot machines built after 1930 are considered contemporary. Anything older is considered antique. The antique slot machines tend to have original parts, as replacement parts weren’t common. The newer machines from 1930 on, have more than likely been tinkered with and might have replacement parts. In the antique world, the more original parts and features, the better. Here are some tips to consider prior to purchasing one.
If you are interested in investing in an antique machine, look for one in original condition. Something relatively untouched or in mint condition is rare, however, they do exist. Once a slot machine has been restored, the value of the machine decreases. If you find slot machine from the 1930s or 1940s for less than $3,000, the chances are good it has been restored.
Now if money is no object, you may want to consider purchasing an 1899 Mills five-cent antique slot machine. This machine, in original, mint condition would sell for anywhere from $16,000 to $19,000. If money really isn’t an option, a Caille Brothers Peerless 5 Cent floor roulette slot realized $300,000 at auction.
If you are interested in something a little less pricey, there is the antique Owl Slot machine from the Mills Novelty Company that sells for roughly $15,750. This free-standing, fully functional slot machine has a carved solid oak frame, ball and claw feet, and gorgeous metal housings. These machines are highly sought after.
If you are looking to purchase a wood machine, make sure to inspect for damage. The first wooden machines appeared on the market around 1906. The prices are as high as $19,000. Gaming experts and slot machine collectors agree that these machines are worth collecting, as they will only gain in value as time passes.
There is a booming trade in antique slots. Motivated collectors are scouring this niche market looking for original machines, and anything that can be brought up to snuff. A restored slot machine can still fetch good money. There are highly skilled technicians that can restore your find.
The following are fine examples of antique slot machines
• Ten Cent Harrah’s Club Pace Four Reel (1950)
• Ten cent Mills Blue Bell (1948)
• Mills Diamond Front (1941)
• Five cent Mills Black Cherry (1947)
• Super Deluxe Club Chief Jennings (1946)
• Mills Bursting Cherry
• Five cent Watling Treasury (1933)
• 25 cent Watling Coin Front (1935)
• Mills Hi-Top
• Five cent Mills Roman Head (1938)
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The price of an antique machine can be as high as $300,000 or as low as $1000. Whether you are looking to make an investment, find the holy grail, or a machine to match your decor, the market is strong, vibrant, and accessible.
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Check out the history of slot machines in our article here.