Lot Preview: Penny Arcade Machine

Another lot from our upcoming Antiques & Fine Art sale 22nd April.

This time we’re sharing a peak into the amusements of yesteryear with this enchanting vintage Penny Arcade Machine:

Antique Penny Arcade Machine Needs Restoration. For Auction
More Images | View in our Auction Catalogue | View on the-saleroom.com (Online Bidding)

An Edwardian Penny arcade ‘Top Hat’ flipper amusement machine, c1908. The machine has a plate to the front that reads “HALF PENNIES ONLY. Insert coin in slot at Right side. Release Balls by pushing slide in & press trigger to catch Balls in the Hat, turn Knob in Front. Can be returned by pulling slide on Left side.” and has an open back showing it’s inner mechanical workings. An antique item now, it is in need of some restoration to return it to it’s original glory.

On British Slot Machines – pennyslots.co.uk

…Most of these amusement machines were purely mechanical in operation. You would put your penny in the slot, and either pull a handle, or shoot a ball around a track, in the hope of winning more pennies to put in more slot machines. The object was not monetary gain, as you knew that you would eventually put all the pennies back in the slot machines. The object was to stay in the arcade playing on the machines for as long as possible before the pennies ran out! In those days, a £1 note would buy you 240 extremely large pennies, which could barely be carried in two trouser pockets, and would sometimes keep you playing on the machines for days!

For many, the fascination of these machines was not in the thrill of the winning; but in the operation of the machine itself with its various, and often ingenious, mechanical functions. Most vintage slot machine enthusiasts have no interest in today’s arcades, full of electronic machines where you just stand in front of a video screen and press buttons. Consequently, those old mechanical slot machines have now become highly collectable.

…British machines were usually ‘Amusement’ machines, whilst the majority of American machines were ‘Gambling’ machines. What’s the difference? Well, to put it simply, Gambling Machines are games of chance, whereas Amusement machines are games of skill.

According to British law up until 1960, a machine had to involve an element of skill if it paid out a reward. Consequently British machines took the form of games of skill (such as ball games, cranes, shooting games, etc.) or non-payout types (such as fortune tellers, viewers, juke boxes, working models, pintables, etc.).

If you’d like to read more about the vintage amusement machines of eras past make sure you check out this list of sites dedicated to mechanical penny and slot machines.


Our auction catalogue is now online!

If you are interested in bidding on any of these lots take a look at our online catalogue. If you wish to leave a commission bid, request a condition report or get further details on an item please contact us via the details at the top right of the website. As with all our sales online bidding is also available through the-saleroom.com, follow the link to bid from around the world or in the comfort of your own home.

If you wish to come and view the items in person our viewing times are below:

Saturday 18th April 10:00 – 12:30 GMT
Monday 20th April 10:00 – 17:00 GMT
Tuesday 21st April 10:00 – 17:00 GMT
Sale Day Wednesday 22nd April 8:30 – 10:00 GMT