Beginning about 1890, coin-operated gambling machines appeared in saloons, hotel lobbies, cigar stores and gambling establishments all across America. Hundreds of small companies built thousands of machines.
Some were poker machines in which rewards for winning hands were paid in cigars by the establishment. Others followed the lead of Charles Fey’s 1899 Liberty Bell (example at rght), the model on which subsequent machines with three spinning reels were based. These different styles of machines had only one idea in mind—to capture a customer’s money one nickel at a time. At the time, they were called “nickel-in-the-slot machines.” Eventually, it was shortened to the term still used today.
Everything changed in 1910 with the introduction of a heavy, cast-iron table model machine featuring three graphic reels that were engineered to stop, one right after the other. This remarkable device had a cast iron handle to activate the spin, and automatically paid out to winning combinations of fruit symbols.
Slot-machine players today always appreciate novelty, and the history of the slot machine is a subject to which they are drawn easily. For this reason, collector Ira Warren has made his remarkable stock of antique slot machines and amusement devices available to casinos.
Tapping into Warren’s collection can lead to a unique and intriguing attraction for any casino, whether they be placed in an entryway, as accents around a casino floor, or in a special exhibit room that would provide a new revenue stream from admission charges.
Among the machines available for display right now are:
• A cast-iron, table-model poker machine on a swivel base (circa 1893)
• A flip-card-style poker machine (small metal cards were arranged in deck configurations which “flipped” on a spool) forged in cast iron (circa 1897)
• A large wood-cabinet, table-model poker machine (circa 1897)
• A cast-iron floor model poker machine (circa 1905)
Other models are displayed on the advertisement featured on the back cover of this magazine.
For more information, contact Ira Warren, president, Coin-Ops, LLC, at [email protected].