They clang, they whirr, some play music, and some were designed to pay jackpots, challenge early “gamers,” or dispense snacks. These are just some of the actions and sounds associated with antique coin-op machines, which have entertained America since the 19th century. This month Morphy Auctions’ Pennsylvania gallery has transformed into a virtual amusement arcade, showcasing a first-class lineup of gaming, vending and music machines, plus a fine array of antique advertising. Comprising 1,475 lots, this exciting selection will be offered at Morphy’s Coin-Op & Advertising sale, November 20-21.
One of the auction’s superstars is an extremely hard-to-find Caille Brothers 5-cent “Black Cat” musical upright slot machine in all-original condition. It has its correct castings, coin head and spinning wheel. The unit’s handsome oak cabinet is heavily embellished with nickel-plating, and it stands on four sturdy nickel-plated cabriole legs. The pre-sale estimate is $60,000–$90,000.
Another good-looking 5-cent musical slot machine by Caille Brothers is their circa-1901 “Puck,” beautifully restored with a replaced chipped-glass front and all original castings. Complete with keys, Puck is ready to amuse a new owner for $30,000–$50,000.
A marvel of early American ingenuity, a 1905 Multiphone Operating Company 5-cent multiple-cylinder phonograph boasts technology that allowed the patron to wind the machine’s carousel and choose any selection from a 24-tune playlist. Estimate: $40,000–$70,000.
A later coin-operated entertainer, a Rock-Ola multi-coin Model 1414 phonograph jukebox was made around 1942. A fantastic combination of late Art Deco design and technological innovation, this extremely rare jukebox is one of few known examples of Rock-Ola’s “Commando” model modified to look like the ultra-rare “President.” Estimate: $30,000–$60,000
A Holcomb & Hoke Butter-Kist Popcorn machine is an early snack food multi-tasker from the first-quarter 20th century. Fully-automatic floor models of this type not only popped and buttered fresh, hot popcorn but also harnessed the machine’s steam source to roast peanuts. Morphy’s especially complete example is estimated at $10,000–$30,000.
The selection of 78 antique cash registers includes some very primitive models, such as a quaint countertop-style Miles “woodie” sales register with a single-dial front, estimated at $3,000–$6,000.
Two lots, in particular, evoke the nostalgia of America’s once-ubiquitous soda fountains: A double-sided neon sign for Campbell’s Palace Drugs and Coca-Cola, $8,000–$18,000; and a classic Fan-Taz ceramic soda fountain syrup dispenser shaped like a stitched baseball, $10,000–$20,000.
Morphy’s Nov. 20-21, 2019 Coin-Op and Advertising Auction will be held at the company’s Denver, Pennsylvania gallery. All forms of bidding will be available, including live online through Morphy Live. Questions: call 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.morphyauctions.com.