SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR COIN-OP COLLECTORS
by Russ Jensen
The hobby of collecting coin-op devices includes a wide
variety of variations. The major types of machines collected
include slot machines, pinball games, jukeboxes, trade stimulators,
arcade games and vending machines (including scales). The
collecting of any sort of "historical device" generally cannot be
successfully accomplished by a person, however, unaided by some
sort of "outside" help.
First of all, the potential collector needs information
regarding the "history" of the type of machine and it's rarity, a
very important consideration for most collectors. Books and
magazines generally are the best source of this type of
information, although visits with old time operators (if you are
luck enough to find them) are often very enlightening.
These publications also serve as a source of information on
repair and restoration of machines which is extremely important
when dealing with antique devices. Magazines also contain articles
about other collectors and collections which interest most
collectors as they like to know about others who share their
fascination with these remarkable machines.
Finally, magazines contain advertising (both classified and
display) which greatly aid the collector in buying (and often
selling and trading) new machines for his collection, as well as
locating sources of necessary supplies and services.
A collector, of course, cannot operate without "sources of
supply" from which to obtain machines to add to his collection.
Many times machines are obtained from "private parties" who somehow
or other have in the past acquired an old coin machine which they
have decided to sell. Some collectors are lucky enough to find a
coin machine operator (or ex-operator) who still has some old
machines "kicking around" which a collector can purchase.
In addition to these sources, the popularity of collecting old
coin machines has caused some new sources to develop. National and
regional "shows" have spring up all over the country where dealers
and collectors gather to buy, sell and trade coin machines and
related items. Auctions are sometimes held which feature coin-ops.
In addition, dealers in antique coin machines now appear in
some places. Some have stores and others operate out of their
garages, but they are becoming more numerous as coin-op collecting
becomes more popular. Dealers in coin machines for home amusement
are also in operation these days and many times are a source of
"antique" machines for the collector as well.
Collectors generally like to associate with other collectors
and share knowledge, discuss each other's collections, and buy,
sell, and trade. Shows are a good place to do this, but sometimes
this results in the forming of associations and clubs. While this
"group forming" is fairly prevalent in other forms of collecting,
it has not yet really caught on with coin machine collectors,
although a few local clubs have been formed.
Now that I have summarized the "support system" for coin-op
collectors we will look at some of these items in more detail.
With the possible exception of pinballs, the slot machine
probably has had the greatest coverage in books. Coin machine
historian Dick Bueschel, most likely the most thorough researcher
in the field, has written a series of "100 Collectable Slot
Machines" (SLOTS 1 - 4) books. There are currently four books in
this series each illustrating, describing (including history), and
giving the approximate values of 100 different collectable slot
In 1992 Dick also published a giant 2 volume (both soft and
hard bound) set titled "Jennings Slot Machines - 1906-1990". In
addition to giving a history of the O.D. Jennings company, these
books contain all the information from the service manuals for many
of the Jennings slot machines.
In addition, Mr. Bueschel over the years has compiled a series
called "Coin Slot Guides" each providing repair as well as
historical information on a particular model (or series of models)
of slot machines. At this time there are 34 of these guides
available. The above mentioned books are available from Coin Slot
Books of Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
You might think Dick has written a great deal about slots, but
there is more! By the time you read this Dick will have another
slot book (quite possibly the best yet!) under his belt. That
book, over 20 years in the making, is titled "Lemons, Cherries, and
Bell Fruit Gum" (what a great title!) and is published by Royal
Bell Ltd., the publishers of COIN SLOT INTERNATIONAL.
Sometime back in the early 1970's I saw an ad in a book
catalog announcing that that book was "coming soon" and was dying
to see it. Well, it's finally out! Dick told me it will be the
definitive history of the slot machine and will cover the industry
right into the current decade - the only book to do that to date.
Marshall Fey of Reno, Nevada, the grandson of Charles Fey the
inventor of the 3-reel payout slot machine, has also written and
published several books on slot machines. His original book "Slot
Machines - A Pictorial History of the First 100 years" is now in
it's fourth edition.
This large format book is crammed with pictures of slot
machines from the late 1800's on. The text details the history of
slots, much gleaned from Marshall's association with the coin
machine business in which has grandfather and father were always
Marshall is not only knowledgeable in the history of the slot
machine, but also in their internal workings. A few years ago he
published "Bally Slot Machines - The complete Service Manual for
Electro-mechanicals 1964 - 1980", including service information for
these Bally machines. I also understand that he has recently
issued a similar publication covering the later solid-state
controlled Bally machines.
In addition, several years ago Marshall put out a small
booklet titled "Bally Slot Machines - Electro-mechanical 1964-
1980". That publication showed pictures (most taken from
advertising brochures) of all Bally models of the period in
chronological order with a brief description of each. Marshall
later revised and updated that book to include "electronic slot
machines" made by Bally between 1980 and 1986.
As far as Trade Stimulators (the slot machine's "non automatic
payout" cousins) are concerned, the only books I know of currently
are two volumes of "100 Collectable Trade Stimulator" books by Dick
Bueschel. These books follow the same format as his similarly
titled series on slot machines previously mentioned and are also
available from Coin Slot books.
As far as books on "antique" jukeboxes are concerned, there
have been several over the years. The first was probably "Jukebox
Saturday Night" written by J. Krivine and published by Chartwell
Books, originally released in 1972. This hardcover book in
"oversize" format detailed the history of the jukebox, including
much information on the industry's personalities. The book was
replete with pictures, both color and black and white, including
numerous reproductions of early jukebox advertising.
The original issue of this book is long since out of print and
I have heard that people have offered (and possibly paid) $100 or
more for it. It was recently reissued, however, making it again
Another book "Jukebox - The Golden Age" written by Vincent
Lynch and Bill Henkin was also first published many years ago.
Later it was reprinted and retitled "The American Jukebox - The
Classic Years". That book covered jukeboxes of the period 1937 to
1947 during which many beautiful "classic" 78 RPM jukeboxes were
The book contains a brief history of the jukebox industry,
followed by full page, full color illustrations of classic
jukeboxes of that era. The book also contains some illustrations
of "counter-top" models, as well as colorful wall-mounted speakers.
Another fairly early jukebox book was "Vintage Jukeboxes - The
Hall of Fame" written by Christopher Pearce and published in this
country by Chartwell Books in 1988 (but I am told it is still
sometimes available). The book is replete with many illustrations
(both color and black and white) including many full color, full
page, pictures of classic jukes, plus a lot of pieces of jukebox
The author concentrates on what he refers to as "the jukebox
years" - the 1940's and 1950's, although several late 1930's models
are described and pictured. The book focuses on "the big four"
jukebox manufacturers of the period: AMI, Rockola, Wurlitzer, and
Seeberg. Most of the models of that period are described in much
detail, as well as much historical information on the
Another jukebox book, this one published in 1991 by H.C.
Blossom in England, was "Jukebox Art" by the same author as Vintage
Jukeboxes. This book includes much on jukebox history (up through
the early 1960's) and is again replete with illustrations of
machines as well as jukebox advertising.
A small book on jukeboxes, titled simply "Jukebox", was put
out by Chartwell books in 1994. This book was produced by Dieter
Ladwig in Germany and translated into English. It featured many
color photographs (mostly full page) with accompanying descriptive
captions. The text in this book is somewhat limited, but includes
a brief "thumbnail" history of the jukebox, plus mini-histories of
most of the major manufacturers.
Similar translations of German books in this same format also
came out around this time - one on slot machines and another on
Finally, a new jukebox book which just came out in 1995 is
called "The Ultimate Jukebox Guide" by Ian Brown and published in
Europe. I was recently told by Rick Botts (publisher of the
jukebox hobby magazine JUKEBOX COLLECTOR) that this book contains
photos of all the jukeboxes put our by almost all the manufacturers
(both U.S. and foreign) between the years 1927 and 1974, also
including historical information. If this is indeed the case the
term "ultimate" is not far from the truth.
What about books on pinball (my favorite subject)? Well,
prior to 1976 none existed. And then came a small flood! The
first to hit the streets was by Canadian author Michael Colmer,
titled "Pinball - An Illustrated History". It had many
illustrations (primarily black and white) many of which were in a
"collage" form, thus not providing much detailed information. The
accompanying text had historical information as well as discussing
This book was closely followed by an oversize, hard back,
volume, "Pinball Portfolio" by British author Harry McKeown,
published by the same outfit that did "Jukebox Saturday Night". A
highlight of this book was the chapter titled "Classic Machines"
which provided full page color illustrations of six machines (all
from the 1960's and 1970's), describing the unique play
characteristics of each in detail.
Next came "Pinball" by Roger Sharpe (now an executive in the
pinball industry) published by E.P. Dutton in 1977. This coffee
table book was definitely the "pinball picture book" containing
scores of photographs of pinball being played in a wide variety of
locations taken by award winning photographer Jim Hamilton when he
and Roger traveled all over the country and to Europe.
Also in 1977 came "All About Pinball" by Bobbye Natkin and
Steve Kirk, published by Grosset and Dunlap. This was an "all
around" book covering pinball from history to a detailed discussion
of how to play the game, all in all an excellent, well rounded
A book titled simply "Tilt" appeared in 1978. It was written
by San Francisco bay area pin buffs Jim and Candace Tolbert and
published by Creative Arts Book Co. of Berkeley, CA. It was
primarily intended to be a guide for caring for your home operated
pinball machine, although it contained some excellent history
information as well.
Following that, in 1979, another Canadian author, Edward
Trapunski, came out with a book called "Special When Lit",
published by Dolphin Books, which treated pinball from an
historical as well as sociological point of view.
All of the pinball books I have just described are
unfortunately now out of print, but you can occasionally find one
for sale, but usually at a fairly high price.
Fortunately, however, that was not the end of pinball books,
more coming out in the late 1980's and the current decade. Two of
these were both published in 1988.
One was "Pinball 1" by none other than the venerable Dick
Bueschel. That book was in Dick's "100 collectable" format, with
a large "history section" followed by 100 pages each showing a
photo of a pinball or bagatelle game (from the period 1885 through
1978) with a detailed description of each (including additional
The over 100 page history section, titled "The Origins of
Pinball and the 'Depression Baby' Boom", details the history of the
ancestors of the modern pinball game, including the bagatelle games
which started in the late 1700's. Dick also describes many
pinball-like games which came out before 1931 and several early
pingames of that year.
Not only that, but this "historian's historian" (as I like to
call him) also talks of many other historical events happening in
other areas, including much "industrial history", one of Dick's
The reason the history section only covered up through 1931 is
because the later years of pinball's history are planned to be
covered in subsequent books in a projected series. "Pinball 1" was
published by Coin Slot Books, but subsequent books in this series
are to be published by Steve Young in New York, with "Pinball 2"
due to be released early in 1996.
The other pinball book to come out in 1988 was "Pinball - The
Lure of the Silver Ball" by Bill Kurtz and Englishman Gary Flower
published by Chartwell Books. The book contained many photos of
pingames over the years, mostly in color. The text described the
history of pinball during the various decades, and also had a
chapter devoted to how you can own you own pingame at home.
It was several years before the next pinball book was to come
out. It was published in 1991 and was the first of two books (both
originating in Europe) to be devoted primarily to "pinball art".
This first book on that subject was simply titled "Pinball Art" and
was written by Englishman Keith Temple.
The book is, of course, chocked fill of pictures (mostly
color) of pinball games and backglasses (some taken from
advertising flyers). The text also describes the talented artists
whose work has adorned pinball machines for decades.
Along this same vane, another book on pinball art came out of
Germany. It was originally published in German as "Flipper
Scheiben" which literally translated to "pinball backglasses" and
was written by Jurgen Lukas and Heribert Eiden (who I had the
pleasure of meeting a few years ago). It was subsequently
translated into French, and finally into English in 1992.
The English version ended up being simply titled "Pinball
Machines" and I am told this was because the publisher thought that
"Pinball Backglasses" was too long to fit nicely on the cover.
This book also has many, many, fine color and black and white
pictures of pinball glass, and the text describes the various
artwork themes (divided by categories such as: games, leisure time,
culture, history, etc.) as well as the major artists.
Finally, a brief word about a special pinball book which
unfortunately is "out of print", but for which a new edition is in
preparation. The book is called "Pinball Resource" and was
compiled by my good friends Rob Hawkins and Don Mueting.
This book contains an alphabetical listing of almost all
pinball machines ever made (between 1931 and the present) and
includes the manufacturer, date of manufacture, number of players,
and reference to a series of "notes" providing additional
information on the machines contained in another section of the
book. There is also a coded column which tells where pictures of
many of the games can be found in books and magazines.
The "notes" can also lead you (via a database compiled by the
authors) to people who have such things as backglasses, schematics,
flyers, etc. for many of the games. When this book is updated it
will provide a valuable resource for all pinball collectors.
As far as books on Arcade Machines are concerned I know of
only one (other than a "general book" to be discussed shortly). It
is ARCADE 1 by Dick Bueschel and Steve Gronowski published by Coin
Slot books in 1993. This book is sub-titled "Illustrated
Historical Guide To Arcade Machines - Volume 1".
This 300 page book contains a huge historical section
(approximately 200 pages) which gives much information on the
history of penny arcades and arcade machines going back to the late
1800's. Many patent drawings are included, plus photographs of
industry pioneers and arcade locations, and copies of much early
The last 100 pages show 100 individual historic machines
covering the period from 1885 to 1983 (the last two games shown are
video games - a "collectable of the future"). Each machine has a
description which gives historical as well as descriptive
information concerning that machine. A fascinating book indeed for
anyone at all interested in these wonderful amusement devices.
Finally as to vending machines, there seems to be one
outstanding book on that subject. It is called "Silent Salesmen
Too" (to "too" being a pun indicating that the author had written
a previous book called "Silent Salesmen") written by the "guru of
early vending machines" Bill Enes and published in 1995. This book
contains over 300 pages (32 in color) and is virtually an
encyclopedia of early vending machines.
Over 200 pages show photos of venders (primarily gum, nut, and
candy), six to a page, with a brief description of each. There is
also a section of around 25 pages showing rare early advertisements
for such machines, and a page listing vending machine patent
numbers cross-referenced to their issue dates.
That pretty well covers books dealing with particular types of
coin-op collectables. But there have also been several books
published which deal with more than one type of coin machine -
"general" coin-op books. I will talk about three such books which
have appeared in recent years.
The first of these, "Slot Machines and Coin-Op Games" written
by Bill Kurtz, was published by Chartwell Books and came out in
1991. This book had chapters on all types of amusement machines
plus slots, with separate chapters on: Arcade Machines, Baseball
Games, Gun Games, Bowling Machines, Pinballs, "One-Armed Bandits",
and "Novelty" Arcade Machines. It is, I believe, the only book to
ever cover in any detail Baseball Games, Gun Games, or Bowling
Machines. A very comprehensive little book.
Another "general" coin-op book, also by Mr. Kurtz, was
published in 1994 by Schiffer and titled "Arcade Treasures". This
book was chocked full of great color photos of coin machines. It's
chapters covered each decade (1930's through 1990's) plus "early
games" (pre 1930). There was also separate chapters on foreign
games and on "related collectables" (schematics, flyers,
promotional items, etc.).
The most recent "general" coin-op book came out in 1995 and
was written by none other than Dick Bueschel. It is titled
"Collector's Guide to Vintage Coin Machines" and was also published
by Schiffer. The book has separate chapters on Slot Machines,
Jukeboxes, Pinballs, Arcade Games, Trade Stimulators, Vending
Machines, and Scales, as well as one on "building a collection" of
Each chapter gives a brief history of the particular type of
machine and contains a multitude of color pictures of the machines
with a brief description of each. This book, in my personal
opinion, is probably the best ever covering many of the popular
forms of coin-op collectables.
Since the 1970's there have been several magazines published
which dealt specifically with collecting coin machines and that
covered more than one type of machine. Others have dealt with a
specific type of machine, such as pinballs or jukeboxes. In
addition, articles have appeared in other general collectables or
hobby magazines on the subject of collecting coin-ops.
The first of the general coin-op collectors magazines was COIN
SLOT. It started as a small thin issue in the early 1970's and has
grown into a full size, slick paper, magazine today. During it's
lifetime it was published by several different publishers and is
currently in the hands of Hoflin Publishing of Wheat Ridge,
The COIN SLOT has articles dealing with most forms of coin-op
collectables, including slot machines, pinballs (your's truly is
now their primary author on that subject), trade simulators, and
vending machines, and is a valuable source of information for coin-
Another general coin-op collectors magazine is CLASSIC
AMUSEMENTS. This fine "slick paper" bi-monthly is published by
Peter Movsesian of Fountain Valley, California, and is edited by
who else but Dick Bueschel. The magazine covers all forms of coin-
Among it's many features is a column called "Fabulous Finds"
where in each issue a different collector describes a rare coin
machine he has discovered, telling how he found it. The magazine
also has a special "theme" for each issue (such as Restorations,
etc.) with most of the feature articles in that issue conforming in
some way to that theme.
As a sidelight, COIN-OP CLASSICS began publication shortly
after the demise of another similar magazine, CLASSIC AMUSEMENTS,
published for a few years by Eric Hatchell. That magazine was the
only coin-op publication to include color photography with some of
it's articles as well as in some of it's advertising.
The high cost of doing this was responsible for it going
under, but it sure was nice while it lasted. Maybe someday in the
future this idea can be economically achieved as most coin-ops are
indeed colorful devices.
NOTE: The most recent issue of COIN-OP CLASSICS included a few
color illustrations in it's feature article - could this be a hint
of "things to come"?
A second contemporary general coin-op magazine is GAMEROOM
published in Mt. Tabor, Indiana. This "non-slick" paper magazine
does boast a very attractive full-color cover each month. If you
are looking for a large amount of coin-op advertising (both
classified and display) where almost everybody in coin-ops
advertize, this is your baby as approximately 70 percent of it's
pages are advertising.
In addition, there are four or five articles in each issue
covering a wide variety of coin-op topics from mechanical music, to
vending, to jukeboxes, and almost always at least one article on
And, of course, there is always COIN DROP INTERNATIONAL. But
since you are now reading that fine publication I'm sure you
already know about it's contents.
Before leaving the subject of general coin-op magazines, a
brief word about one foreign language publication (in fact, it is
the only magazine ever to publish any of my articles translated
into a foreign language). It is called PIJAMA (which is a French
acronym for the subject of early coin-ops) and is published by a
young Frenchman Yves Erard of Rennes, France.
The magazine is bi-monthly and has articles, etc. covering
many forms of coin-ops and collecting. So if you read French (or
know of a good translator) this publication might be "right up your
As far as specialty coin-op magazines are concerned, the only
ones I am aware of deal with either pinballs or jukeboxes. Let's
take pinball magazine first.
At the present time (except for one British publication) there
is only one magazine entirely devoted to pinball. That fine
publication is called "PinGame Journal" and is published "casually
monthly" by Jim Schelberg of Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Each issue contains many fine articles on pinball (both old
and the latest releases). There is also a very good "letters to
the editor" section (one of my favorite sections of any magazine),
as well as many classified ads. For pinball fans this is "the
As far as Jukebox publications are concerned, I believe at
present there are only two. One of those is JUKEBOX COLLECTOR
published monthly by Rick Botts of Des Moines, Iowa. It has
articles on collectable jukeboxes as well as many classified ads.
The other current jukebox publication is a tabloid format
paper called ALWAYS JUKEIN' published by Mike and Sally Bauta of
Seattle, Washington. In addition to jukebox articles and much
advertising it has a good "tech info" section providing jukebox
restorers, etc. with much valuable information.
As the popularity of collecting coin operated devices
increases "shows" featuring coin-ops also have increased. One of
the first shows to feature coin machines was the "Fun Fair" started
by coin machine publisher Dan Mead in the Southern California area.
The first Fun Fair occurred in the Fall of 1979 at the Great
Western Exhibit Center in East Los Angeles. The next year this
then annual event was moved to the Pasadena Exhibit Center in
Pasadena, California where it was held for several years. Later it
became a semi-annual event and was held alternately in Long Beach
and Anaheim, California. It has now returned to Pasadena.
The Fun Fairs feature displays by many of the major dealers in
antique coin machines from around the country, plus many smaller
Los Angeles area dealers in coin-ops and other "fun type" antique
Probably the biggest general coin-op show today is the semi-
annual "CHICAGOLAND" show held in the Chicago area put on by R & S
Enterprises, Inc. An ad for a recent show indicates that the show
includes: slots, jukes, arcade machines, gas pumps, neon, saloon
items, vending machines, country store items, scales, movie items,
coke items, etc. For many, many coin-op collectors all around the
country this is "the big one".
Another great general coin-op show is, of course, the semi-
annual COIN-OP SUPER SHOW AND SALE put on by none other than the
publishers of COIN DROP INTERNATIONAL. The first show was held in
1992 at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, but has since moved to
my personal favorite show site, the Pasadena Exhibit Center.
The SUPER SHOW (which is held in both the Spring and Fall)
features a wide variety of coin-ops, with emphasis on slots and
jukes, but also contains many of the same collectable items as
"CHICAGOLAND". I have personally attended all but one or two of
these shows, but that was only because I was taking my annual
vacation in Reno at the time of those shows.
In addition to these two shows, there are also several other
general coin-op or "gameroom" shows held in various cities across
the country. General shows of this type are held in such cities
as: Atlanta, Orlando, Dallas, Portland, Boston, and even
Hackensack, New Jersey.
As for "specialty" coin-op shows (those which feature one
particular type of coin machine) I only am aware of shows devoted
specifically to pinball. As far as pinball shows are concerned, at
one time there was only one, but now they seem to be springing up
all over the country.
The first ever pinball show was held in the Fall of 1985. The
idea for the show came from a club of Ohio pinball enthusiasts,
three of which (Rob Berk, Mike Pacak, and Bill Kurtz) decided to
try to produce a national show. They had no idea how many would
attend, but they took a risk they wouldn't "lose their shirts".
Well, Pinball Expo '85 (as they chose to call their show) was
a success, partly because they had the cooperation of the pinball
manufacturers in Chicago - the location where they chose to stage
the event. When you read this the eleventh show (Pinball Expo '95)
will have already occurred and I would like to tell you that I have
been lucky enough to be able to attend every one!
Each Expo featured several seminars (put on by industry people
- both "old timers" and those of the current era - or collectors)
each providing interesting information or sometimes just plain fun.
There was also a large Exhibit Hall where hundreds of pinball
machines (both "classic" and the latest models displayed by the
manufacturers) were on display and/or for sale, plus many dealers
selling parts, literature, etc.
Their was always an annual banquet featuring a guest speaker
(usually from the industry - past or present) during which awards
were always presented to people participating in the show. Each
Expo also featured a pinball tournament where the good players
competed, the grand prize being a brand new pinball machine worth
several thousand dollars! All in all the Pinball Expos are always
the yearly highlight of many, many pinball collectors around the
country and in other parts of the world as well.
In 1990, a small group of Arizona pinball collectors (headed
by Bruce Carlton) started a new pinball show called simply "The
Pinball Show". It was put on in June in the Phoenix suburb of
Scottsdale, Arizona. The show featured an Exhibit Hall with a
large number of pingames for playing, display, and/or sale, as well
as dealers selling parts, etc..
The show enlisted the cooperation of one of the Chicago
pinball manufacturers and had a banquet featuring a guest speaker.
Like the Pinball Expo, this show also featured a pinball
Then in 1994, another Phoenix area collector/operator, Dann
Frank, decided to start his own pinball show held a couple months
earlier at the same site as "The Pinball Show". Dann's show, in
addition to Exhibit Hall, banquet and regular tournament, featured
some smaller "fun events" in which less experienced players could
participate. He called his show "Wild West Pinball Fest".
In 1995 "The Pinball Show" was not held, but the "Wild West
Pinball Fest" held forth for a second successful year, and a third
show is already scheduled for 1996. It is also rumored that the
original "Pinball Show" may again be held in 1996 - we'll just have
to wait and see!
Also, about eight years ago a father and son who both
collected pinballs and lived in the Sacramento, California area -
Walt and Jerry Schlinker - decided to have a weekend "pinball
party". They invited pinball players and collectors they knew in
the Northern California area to their home for a day of pinball
Their endeavor proved to be a lot of fun so they tried it
again the following year; this time there was a larger attendance.
Well, in another year or so their "annual event" grew too large for
their homes so they decided to rent a small hall. I don't know the
exact story of this since I had not attended any "Pinathons" (as
they decided to call their events) until 1995, but that's about how
the story goes, I believe.
In addition to Pinathon attendees playing pinball for fun, and
visiting with each other, the Schlinkers even had a pinball
tournament with prizes connected with the event. By 1995 the event
had grown quite a bit and featured two tournaments - one played on
electro-mechanical games (like their first tournaments) and one for
solid-state pin players, each winner winning a pingame of that
Their have also been several pinball shows springing up in the
East in the past several years. The longest running of these,
which has been held for the past several years is called the "New
England Pinfest" and is held each Spring in Connecticut. Two other
"pin-shows", which were started in the past year or so are The "Mid
West Pinfest" held in St. Louis in the early Summer, and "The
Pinball Wizard's Convention - The Replay" held in Pennsylvania in
There are also many auctions which feature or include coin
operated devices. Probably the best known of these occurs in Las
Vegas. This is Roy Arrington's Victorian Casino Antiques Auction.
This is a lavish affair, staged in one of the large Las Vegas
hotel/casinos, where dealers and collectors from all over the world
come to bid on many rare antique coin machines and other antique
items such as leaded glass, soda fountain items, barber chairs,
There are also a couple of outfits which hold coin machine
auctions in various cities across the country featuring coin
machines. One such outfit is U.S. Amusement Auctions. Although
there are some "antique" machines at these auctions, most of the
items consist of more modern pinballs and video games which
amusement operators are trying to dispose of because they are no
longer making money for them.
This does not mean that this is not a good auction for
"collectors" as many of the new collectors joining the hobby
collect some of the more modern machines - the "collectables of the
future". This same outfit, by the way, in the past several years
has been holding an auction in connection with the annual Pinball
Expo previously mentioned.
Finally, even New York city's prestigious antique auction
gallery Sotherby's sometimes auctions coin-ops as evidenced by
their Smith Collection auction of arcade machines which occurred in
This wraps up this discussion of the "support system" that has
developed over the years to support the growing interest in
collecting the many forms of coin operated gambling, amusement, and
As we have seen, books and magazines have been published to
provide historical information, news, and advertising. Shows,
dealers, and auctions have become prevalent providing sources of
supply. Although fairly rare, some organizations have also formed
enabling collectors to meet and discuss their common interests.
All these have combined to provide support and aid to the
fascinating hobby of collecting coin operated machines.