Many people find slot machines an excellent home decoration, but you can also use the one in working condition for fun. Since they are typically pricey, you should check an antique slot machine price guide and its appearance before purchasing the desired model.
For a start, you should be aware that only pieces produced before 1930 are considered antique. Unlike modern machines that typically have replaced parts, you can expect to get an antique slot machine with all original components. Be aware that manufacturers didn’t produce replacement parts for these first models.
Slot Machines History
The term SLOT MACHINE came from putting a nickel into the coin slot and was initially referred to as standard vending machines produced in the 1880s.
The first gambling machines featuring racing toy horses appeared in 1885. Guests in saloons and bars used these novelty devices to bet and then exchanged won nickels for drinks and cigars.
The first slot machine reminding modern models appeared in Brooklyn in 1891. However, they worked the same way as the first machines, and people got drinks or cigars for won prizes.
Gustav Schultze created the first nickel slot Horseshoes in San Francisco in 1893. Then, Charles Fey from San Franciscan designed the new version of Horseshoes, while the next step was the legendary 4-11-44 game appearing on the market in 1895.
The Liberty Bell, perfected in 1899, allowed automatic cash payouts and was considered the first true slot machine. Unfortunately, only four of a hundred made pieces survived, while others were destroyed in 1906 during earthquake and fire.
By 1909, many manufacturers improved the original design to find a way to circumvent the bans in many states. The most prominent were:
- Local manufacturers Royal Novelty, Reliance Novelty, Schultze
- Mills, Caille, Illinois, Clawson, and Watling from the East
Unlike the first models that showed cards, these new machines contained fruit, which has survived until modern times.
The most popular vintage and antique slot machines
|Production year||Slot machine type|
|1933||5-cent Watling Treasury|
|1935||25-cent Watling Coin Front|
|1937||Mills Bursting Cherry|
|1938||5-cent Mills Roman Head|
|1941||Mills Diamond Front|
|1946||Super Deluxe Club Chief Jennings|
|1947||5-cent Mills Black Cherry|
|1948||10-cent Mills Blue Bell|
|1950||10-cent Harrah’s Club Pace Four Reel|
As soon as California banned slot machines in 1911, manufacturers readjusted them and started producing legal gum vending machines. The first true jackpot was introduced in 1916 when the Mills Novelty Co. found a way to get out coins from the device. Many states banned this model by 1920.
However, slot machine sales skyrocketed during the Great Depression in the 1920s and the 1930s. Most collectors appreciate good-looking, small Mills Bell models and gorgeous Jennings streamlined wood floor machines produced during that decade.
Once gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931, slot machines became an ultimate money-making method. It was the only state with legalized gambling by 1951, when the amount of money earned in this way quickly became attractive to others.
Bally took over slot machine production in the 1960s when Las Vegas and Atlantic City became popular destinations for gamblers. This company also came with the first-ever electronic slot machine design.
Money Honey was the first electromechanical slot machine with improved features invented in 1963. Thirteen years later, the first all-video models were put into use. The method of linking several devices of the same type was developed in 1986, while computer technology led to contemporary models development.
Antique Slot Machine Value
You can find three primary vintage and antiques coin-operated machine types on the collectibles market:
- Vending machines dispensing products
- Machines introduced for entertainment
- Devices stimulating trade associated with gambling
Their prices will primarily depend on the type and condition, but even restored pieces can still be worth money. Be aware that casinos use their devices as long as possible, so most are practically worthless once they decide to get rid of them. As a result, finding an antique machine in original working condition is virtually impossible.
Unfortunately, every restoration will decrease the machine’s price. For instance, you can find a slot machine produced in the 1930s for less than $2,500 or $3,000. In that case, you can be sure it is restored to a greater or lesser extent.
Vintage and antique slot machine value
|1936 Watling treasury slot machine||$6,000|
|Mills Chevron slot machine||$2,800|
|Mills Poinsettia slot machine||$2,590|
|Mills Poinsettia slot machine||$1,650|
|Mills ‘Hotel Bonanza’ slot machine||$1,600|
|Bally’s slot machines with extra parts and paperwork||$1,600|
|1990s IGT Trump ‘Taj Mahal’ slot machine||$1,500|
|1930 Caille superior Bell Dime slot machine||$1,500|
|Columbia Groetchen slot machine||$1,500|
|Mills Bell-o-Matic slot machine||$1,300|
|1980s Bally slot machines||$1,200|
|Aristrocat ‘The Gambler’ slot machine||$1,195|
|1970s Pace Primadonna mechanical slot machine||$1,100|
|Faulty Harvey’s wagon wheel slot machine||$840|
|Bally’s slot machine||$795|
|1980s Reno Nevada gambling poker slot machine||$750|
|Nickel 3-reel palace station slot machine||$700|
|True Grip Challenge slot machine||$700|
|1984 Slot machine video poker IGT||$690|
|Nulli Secundus airship gaming machine||$676|
|Mills slot machine||$650|
|1939 Jumbo Parade slot machine||$650|
|Faulty Bally ‘1,000 coins’ slot machine||$500|
|IGT triple cash slot machine||$500|
|Bally slot machine||$450|
|Mizuho “Million God” slot machine||$390|
|Pachislo Digislo slot machine||$355|
|Waco ‘Casino Crown’ slot machine||$125|
Most experts claim you can find everything you want in this specific market, depending on your budget. For instance, it is hard to find a Mills 5-cent slot machine produced in 1899 in original condition, but it is possible at the price of $16,000 to $19,000.
The antique Mills Novelty Co. Owl Slot machine with metal housing and a carved solid oak frame will cost you $15,750. One collector paid an astonishing $300,000 at auction for Caille Bros. Peerless 5-cent floor roulette slot.
There is one more thing! It may sound surprising, but some collectors enjoy reworking the non-working slot machines and look for such pieces.
Before 1950, manufacturers made games without replacement parts, so old devices were the only source of these parts. Therefore, even ones in poor condition with missing parts will be worth something.
Ways to Estimate Antique Slot Machine Value
Antique slot machines in excellent condition are a significant investment, but their prices vary. Doing homework is the best way to determine each piece’s value.
Remember that the only way to evaluate the desired device is to know as many details as possible. The most crucial include:
The oldest slot machines are more attractive than modern ones and typically reach the best prices. As always, an antique device in excellent condition will be worth the most.
Most collectors aim to find an antique slot machine in original condition. Unfortunately, most available models were renovated, often inadequately, and have come with replaced parts.
The restoration process means separating the device before cleaning and re-lubricating internal working parts. The professional can replace damaged parts and make up for lost ones before reassembling.
Pieces in working order with the fewest replacement parts are the most valuable. When the job is not done professionally, the price decreases, and sometimes the machine is worth nothing.
Unlike reproduction slot machines, each antique model has a unique serial number. Checking this number is the quickest way to determine whether you have a real thing or not.
Remember that this number is the best proof that the particular slot machine has come from a specific casino. That historic connection increases the price since the story is the attractive part collectors are interested in.
You could win the jackpot if a particular slot machine model came from a specific casino. In that case, collectors who look for items connected to that place will be prepared to offer more than you expect.
Certificate of authenticity
Reputable dealers almost always provide an antique slot machine certificate of authenticity. Hard documentation can sometimes be lost, but machine appearance can help determine a date range.
Size and material
Antique slot machines were significantly less sizable than modern devices. Most were an antique cash register’s size and created of wood. Unlike modern machines made of heavy metals, their design elements were not too embellished.
Only rare models came with metal frames and could stand upright. You can see the bolder design and increased sizes over time. The presence of digital components and fluorescent lighting are a sure sign that you are looking at a contemporary model.
One of the most effortless ways to determine whether a particular slot machine is antique or not is to check a manufacturer. Finding its name will give you a precise time frame of the production. For instance, finding a Mills, Fey, Clawson, or Sittman and Pitt’s logo is proof that your device comes from the early 20th century.
Original and replacement parts’ numbers
Owners change replacement parts on their slot machines whenever necessary. Unfortunately, a lack of original parts can significantly decrease their prices.
Cash box existence
Most collectors look for slot machines in working condition with all original pieces. It goes without saying that the device with an intact cash box is worth more.
The rarest slot machines in working order are costly. Believe it or not, some scarce pieces can reach $300,000! The most sought-after antique slot machines that come with a high price are:
- Treasury, produced in 1933 (Watling, 5-cent model)
- Coin Front machine, created in 1935 (Watling, 25-cent model)
- Roman Head, produced in 1938 (Mills, 5-cent model)
- Diamond Front, designed in 1941 (Mills)
- Club Chief, produced in 1946 (Jennings, super deluxe model)
- Black Cherry, designed in 1947 (Mills, 5-cent model)
- Blue Bell, made in 1948 (Mills, 10-cent model)
- Pace Four Reel, produced in 1950 (Harrah’s Club, 10-cent model)
Each piece in standard used condition with only necessary replacement parts can be worth $8,000 to $50,000+.
Places to Buy Antique Slot Machines
Although these are narrowly specialized products, you can find an antique slot machines at numerous places, including:
- Casino basements
- Workshops where professionals dismantled antique slot machines
- Small casinos worldwide
- Small restaurants and stores in Nevada
- Businesses that resell antique slot machines
- Private collectors
You should be careful when buying a slot machine, particularly online. The price range is often wide, but it is not always in accordance with the desired item’s condition.
For instance, you can find Bally’s 6000 Blazing 7s slot machine on eBay for $550 to $1,200. In that case, the crucial things are condition, serial number, certificate of authenticity, and shipping.
The Law about Owning an Antique Slot Machine
Even though the US has no federal law against owning an antique slot machine, it is impossible to hold it if you live in a few American states.
Unfortunately, it is forbidden regardless of whether you want to use it only as a decoration or for a private party. A list of states that prohibit owning a slot machine no matter its age includes:
- South Carolina
On the other hand, some states allow you to buy a slot machine, but with some restrictions. For instance, you can own only slot machines at least 25 years old in:
Laws in some states have even more stringent restrictions, and you can own a slot machine of a certain age not used for gambling:
- Pennsylvania and New Jersey allow possessing a slot machine produced before 1941
- Washington D.C. allows having a slot machine designed before 1952
- Vermont allows keeping a slot machine made before 1954
Considering this, it is necessary to check legal restrictions in your state before buying one of these devices.
Most newer slot machines produced after 1930 were typically repaired or restored. On the other hand, antique models almost always come intact since no spare parts are available.
Be prepared that these machines are valuable, and those manufactured in San Francisco in the 1890s can be worth a fortune. There is one more thing! Always check whether owning a slot machine is legal in your state.