Collectible coin-operated gambling machines, also known as vintage slot machines, are highly sought-after items among collectors worldwide. These machines were once common in bars, casinos, and other gambling establishments in the early to mid-20th century, but have since been replaced by more modern electronic machines.
Despite their rarity, vintage slot machines remain popular among collectors because of their unique design, mechanism and history behind each machine. Each machine was handcrafted and customized, using quality materials to ensure their durability.
Collecting vintage slot machines has become a serious hobby for enthusiasts in the United States, Western Europe, and Asia, with some machines fetching prices of up to $100,000. If you’re interested in starting a collection, here are some key factors to consider:
Before You Start Collecting
Before you begin your search for a vintage slot machine, you should know the laws in your state regarding ownership and gambling laws. In the United States, for example, some states prohibit owning slot machines, while others require a special license to own them.
In addition, you should have a clear understanding of the different types of vintage slot machines available on the market. There are three main types of vintage slot machines: mechanical, electro-mechanical, and electrical machines. Mechanical machines were the earliest type of slot machine and they’re still the most popular among collectors. Electro-mechanical machines used mechanical reels with electronic components. Electrical machines were the first fully electronic slot machines, but they are not as valuable as the mechanical and electro-mechanical models.
Finally, you will need to determine your budget. Vintage slot machines can range in price from a few hundred to thousands of dollars depending on their condition, rarity, and history. It is important to set a budget before you start collecting and stick to it.
How to Find Collectible Coin-Op Gambling Machines
Collectors can find vintage slot machines through various means, including online auctions, estate sales, and antique stores. However, it is important to exercise caution when buying online and to ensure that the seller is reputable and authentic.
Before any purchase, do your research to determine the machines’ history, authenticity, and value. Information on vintage slot machines can often be found on collector forums or in reference books such as “Slot Machines: A Pictorial History of the First 100 Years” by Marshall Fey.
Restoring and Maintaining Vintage Slot Machines
Once you’ve found a vintage slot machine, the next step is to restore it to its original condition. This may involve cleaning and polishing the machine, repairing any mechanical or electrical components, and replacing any missing parts. Restored machines can fetch a higher price, but it is important to maintain the originality of the machine. After restoration, you should keep the machine well-maintained by regularly oiling the moving parts, keeping it clean, and avoiding direct sunlight.
If you have no experience in restoring or repairing the machines, it is best to hire a professional to help restore your machine. Doing so will ensure the machine’s value is not compromised or damaged.
Collecting vintage slot machines can be a rewarding hobby, but it requires investment, research and patience. It is important to do your research, acquire the necessary licenses and permits, and ensure the authenticity and condition of your machine before making a purchase. Restoring and maintaining vintage slot machines will help keep their value high so that you can enjoy your investment for years to come.