All Things About Vintage Slot Machines


A classic slot machine has a certain charm. As you play this game, you may imagine a more innocent era. Alternatively, it could be the aesthetically pleasing layout with common symbols like fruits and lucky sevens. Whatever the case, collectors and casual gamers highly seek old slot machines. Finding one of these machines can be challenging, but the effort is worth it.

What sort of slot machine memorabilia do you collect? You may be interested and want to know how much your slot machines are worth.

We’ll go through what goes into determining the value of retro slot machines and how to maximize your return on the machine you’re selling. Read on if you’re in the market to purchase or sell or are simply curious about your equipment’s value.

Overview of Vintage Slot Machines

Collecting old slot machines is a popular hobby. Many associate them with a more elegant and sophisticated time. Antique slot machines offer a more understated allure than their modern counterparts, equipped with flashing lights and loud sound effects. They usually have elaborate designs and skilled workmanship.

The early versions were straightforward mechanical devices that functioned solely on the heft of coins. These early gadgets were often made of robust cast iron. This, however, also made them highly durable, which is why many of the first machines are still in use today.

Slot machines began to employ more lightweight materials after WWII as manufacturing technology improved. Much of the cast iron was swapped out for molded sheet metal, reducing production costs and making the equipment easier to move around. Slot machines, as a result, became standard fare in gambling halls and casinos.

Although most modern slot machines are automated, the underlying mechanics are primarily unchanged from the first coin-operated versions.

Modern slot machines were produced after 1930. An antique is something ancient indeed. Because spares weren’t widely available, older slot machines usually retained their original components. Machines manufactured after 1930 are more likely to have been modified and to have spare parts available. It is highly prized in the antique market for items to retain as many original components as possible. Consider these points before committing to the purchase.

How To Differentiate A Vintage Slot Machine From A Modern One?

The term “contemporary” describes slot machines produced after 1930. Old things are prized for their historical significance. Because spares weren’t widely available, older slot machines usually retained their original components. More recent machines manufactured after 1930 may have been modified and spare parts made available. More authentic, original components and details are valued in the antique market.

How Does A Vintage Slot Machine Work?

The old mechanical slots were like clockwork. When the handle was yanked, the user twisted a cam bar against a strong spring, which raised a hook on a cable. The reel stops retracted as the cam acted. Finally, the hook detached from yet another cam after the stroke, where it snagged the toothed plates that turned the reels. The cam bar was wound back slowly by a clockwork mechanism, and when it did so, it unlocked the first three-reel stops and then the payout mechanism. Despite the game’s conclusion, the clockwork—just a series of gears with a paddle fan on the fast end—kept turning for a while. The game would be longer if you waited for it to stop before pulling the handle. That seemed odd enough, so many didn’t question it.

In the 1950s, several astute observers noticed that the duration of the next game could be adjusted by the speed with which the handle was pushed. They eventually mastered manipulating the first reel, so it always stopped on the same symbol. All they needed was one successful cherry catch to deplete the payout tube’s contents quickly. Then, they started charging money to teach the technique to others. They dubbed it the Rhythm Approach. At little time, there were a significant number of Rhythm Method players in Las Vegas. Even more surprisingly, pulling the handle of a slot machine “in an unorthodox manner” is illegal in Nevada thanks to a regulation that was approved and is still on the books. However, a fix was developed and rapidly installed on all devices worldwide.

Varieties of Vintage Slot Machines

There is a huge range in the appearance and functionality of vintage slot machines. Although the traditional one-armed bandit is the first thing that comes to mind when discussing vintage slot machines, a few variations can be considered in this category, such as entertainment machines, gambling or gaming machines, and vending machines.

What To Consider If You’re Buying A Vintage Slot Machine?

Try to find a machine that has yet to be restored if you want to make a financial investment in it. While examples of things in essentially pristine condition are uncommon, they are not impossible to find. Slot machines lose money once they have been reconditioned. Unless it’s a genuine collectible, any slot machine from the 1930s or 1940s that you find for less than $3,000 has likely been restored.

If money were no object, you could buy an original Mills five-cent slot machine from 1899. In pristine, as-new condition, this machine might fetch upwards of $19,000. 

For just $15,750, you may buy an old Owl Slot machine made by the Mills Novelty Company. This freestanding slot machine is crafted from solid oak and features ornate metal housings and ball and claw feet. One can expect to pay a premium for one of these computers.

Examine any potential woodworking equipment purchases for signs of wear and tear. In the early 20th century, when 1906, the first wooden machines hit the market. You could spend up to $19,000 on one of them. Slot machine specialists and collectors agree that these machines are valuable investments.

Antiquated slot machines are top-rated and fetch high prices on the market. Collectors serious about their hobby are actively searching this market subset for original equipment and restoration projects. Restored slot machines still have a monetary value. Expert specialists are available to repair your treasure.

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