For the last 35 years I have been collection American antique coin operated machines.
When people use the term slot machine, this encompasses a larger number of payout type slot machines. in the late 1890's these machines were primarily wooden cases with single wheels that turned when activated by a coin. The single wheelers often had very ornate graphics on the dials. The came in both countertop and floor model versions. The floor models often had cast iron very decorative embellishments on the case and the coin head which often had 4 to 6 options for coin placement. Some of the well known floor models include The Dewey, Lion, On the Square, Owl, Centaur, Cupid. Some of the well know countertop versions include The Brownie, Silver Cup, Uncle Sam, Owl Jr., and Mascot
In the period between 1900 and 1910, Cast iron Floor Model trade stimulators were manufactured. These were cast iron stands with a top piece that enclosed four to six reels with playing cards that spun. Some well known examples of these include Fortuna, Jumbo Success, The Hamilton, The Clover
During this same period many very ornate counter top cast iron two and three wheel payout machines were created. These are very sought after by collectors because of their rarity and elaborate designs. Some well known models include The Libert Bell, Operator Bell, Baseball Slot, Big Six, The Pilot, Little Rip, Umpire, Color Match, The Tourist, Square Deal Gum Vender, and Silver Cup,
During the same period many cast iron tabletop card machines were produced. some of these were pay out machines and some were trade stimulators, where the clerk would pay you based on your results. Some well known examples include Monarch Brownie, Your Next, Perfection, Commercial, The Trader, King Dodo, Reliable, Hy-Lo, Mayflower, Draw Poker, Pilgrim, The Register, Globe, Bon-Ton, and Victor
Starting at about 1890 coin drop machines were introduced. The basic concept was that a coin was introduced at the top of the machine and would cascade down the playing field hitting many strategically placed nails. The payout was determined by where the coin eventually landed on the bottom. The machine were designed so that it was very difficult to win. There was no skill involved and the odd were dramatically in favor of the operator. Some models also would dispense gum. Well known models include The Tower, Nickel Ticler, The Lively Cigar seller, Skillard, Yankee, The Premium Gum Vendor, The Favorite, Tri-it, Hindoo Fortune Teller, Catch the Ball, Beer Here, Happy Days, and The Bouncer.
Horse race games were also popular. The earliest version was introduced in the 1890's and they were made well into the 30's. Some versions paid out and some were trade stimulators. The basic concept was you would bet on the horse of your choice and a race was run. if your horse won, you won. Some popular versions include Epsom-Downs, Saratoga Sweepstakes, Spark Plug, Superior Races, The Darby. One of the most complicated versions was the Paces Races. This was housed in a large ornate floor model cabinet. One would bet on a horse by inserting a coin, the race which was then run, was run by a mechanism like a player piano which read a roll and pushed the horse ahead based on the particular race on the roll. The horses move by a complex mechanishm involving pneumatics.
Dice Machine were also popular. These came in both payout and non-payout versions. Some of the earlier versions were very ornate. Some Popular machines include The Eagle Dicer, Log Cabin, I Will (which is probably the most ornate with art nouveau women and three dice poppers in glass tubes), Pippin, On the Level, Cherry Jitters, and Black Magic
Wheel Machines were introduced in the 1890's. The basic concept was akin to a carnival wheel. A coin was inserted and the wheel turned. Where it landed determined the payout. initially these were rather plain machines in wooden cabinets with non descript wheels. One early machine of interest is the Bicycle, where there was a two wheel bicycle in a glass case. On insertion of a coin the wheels turned and the payout was determined by the number on the wheel that landed at the arrow. Other interesting variations included The Star, Busy Bee, Automatic Vote Recorder, Bulls Eye, Wizard Fortune Teller, Comet, 20 for 1, Square Spin and Shoot the Moon.
Roulette Machines were also a popular variant. One Would bet on various options and either a payout or credit was incurred if you won. Some of the machines are very desirable to collectors. These include Monte Carlo, Peerless Roulette (which is a very ornate wood floor model with cast iron decorations), Little Scarob (which has castings with whimsical scarobs), and The Aristocrat.
There were a group of "skill games" With some machines skill added to the possibility of winning, however there was also a large component of luck, which was grealty stacked in favor of the operator. Some unusal examples include the Little Knocker, where you place a coin in the machine and an owl would move when struck, which if it landed on your color, you won. Other examples include Log Cabin, The Manilla, The Play Ball Vendor, Patience Developer, Japanese Ball, Sunny Boy, indian Shooter, Play Basket Ball, Laddie Golf, Honest John, The Champion Speed Tester, Chip Golf, Football, Play Golf, B &M Ball Gum Machine, Play Hi-Li, Pile Driver, Par-Ket, and Lucky Coin Tosser.
Electicity Machines were introduced about 1900. The basic concept was a coin was inserted and you grasped one handle and turned another The more the handle was turned the greater the amount of electicity you would receive. Electriciy at this time was felt to be of healthful benefit. Competions were also encouraged to see who could take the most charge. Sought after models include Simplex, imperial Shocker,and Zsa Zsa.
Coin Operated Vending machines were introduced in the 1890's Almost every imagineable product was sold through these machines. The novelty of the fact that the product was being sold through a machine, quite often with unusual design or forms of the machine, and often the mechanical or animated aspect of the machines encouraged business. Some unusual models include: The Circus, which dispensed candy and had a very ornate circus theme on the case, with a clown inside which turned and dispensed candy. Freeport Vendors were very elaborate models some of which had embossed dragons. Gabels Merchant a very ornate cast iron peanut vendor, Pansy Gum, Mexican Fruit. The Maniken Vendor Co. made a series of clock work mechism machines including the Baker Boy, which had a baker that would pivot to take a gumball out of an oven and deliver it for a penny. Loop The Loop, featured diavolo, the bike rider who looped the loop and dispensed a stick of gum.. A Variant of the was the Teddy Bear , which feature a bear which revolved around the machine. Orbit and Orbit Jr were very ornate cast iron peanut vendors. Pansy Gum delivered a love letter with gum. Pulver created many variants of clockwork figures which would fetch a piece of gum and deliver it. Roover produced several clockwork machines including Madam Zita, Puss n Boots, the Elephant which were highly animated. Other unusual machines include Niagra with a little black boy that moves, Blinkey Eye, Columbus Model L, A Wink A Smile, Tutti-Frutti. Happy Jap was a very unusual cast iron head of an asian figure that dispensed stick gum through a clock work mechanism. Case Pepsin Gum made an unusual fortune teller gum machine. Lukat was an figural cat which dispensed numbered tickets. Model Gum Shop was an different cast iron version of the baker-boy. A very rare peanut vendor called the Griffin is known. Perfume vendors include a floor models Lady Perfume Sprayer, and miniature perfume sprayer and well as cast iron Whiffs of Fragrance and a Bull's Head Perfume, where when the horns were moved the perfume was delivered throught the bull's snout. Sunny Call was an interesting cake shaped dispenser for cake. Cigar vendors include Honest Clerk and Doremus. Even Toilet Paper and Towels and Soap and condoms were dispensed by machines. There were unusual stamp vendors including American Vending Stamp Machine with a shield with stars as well as postcard dispensers. Many forms of match machines were made.
Visit the Mashantucket Pequot Museum on the grounds of Foxwoods Casino. The Pequot nation has taken some of the profits from the casino and built a museum dedicated to retelling the history and culture of their people. The Pequots were farmers, fishermen, and gatherers. They had a complex society and had learned to live with Mother Earth in mutual harmony. When the Dutch came in 1608 they helped them survive the harsh winters. In return the Dutch traded iron goods for beaver pelts and wampumoag which are beads made out of sea shells. As the trade flourished the tribe went further North where beaver were more plentiful and traded much sought after wampum with the Northern tribes. When the British came, they wanted to be included in this lucrative trade for the beaver pelts. That is when the problems began. By 1638 the Pequot Nation was decimated, their members given into slavery and bondage. Only a few escaped to survive. In 1983 the Federal Government recognized the existence of the Mashantuck Pequot Nation. Today they are thriving, having one of the largest casinos in the world. Their profits, managed by the tribal council are used to improve physical and social services among the tribe and even outreach programs to other Native American groups. What took thirty years to destroy took only twenty years of hard work to restore.
Even if you spend over six hours at the museum you will not able to see everything. The admission includes interactive videos about various aspects of their lives. There is a life sized village with audio descriptions at over twenty-five different sites showing various aspects of Pequot home life. A movie shown on a wrap around screen shows the Pequot Wars and the destruction of the people. Outside is a 1780 Pequot Farmstead two acres in size with vegetable and herbal gardens and other plants, which the tribe used in their daily lives.