There’s an upcoming national auction in mid-April that offers various coin-operated arcade games, trade stimulators, vintage slot machines and other coin-operated memorabilia. A link to the catalog is here.
And while there are plenty of treasures from this auction that I would LOVE to have in my collection, one of the most fascinating pieces available in the auction is a recording studio.
Yeah, you can drop a few coins into the slot and now you’re a recording star. You would record your voice – most likely a message to your sweetheart or maybe a quick doo-wop song with your buddies – and you would receive a lacquer-coated metal disc with your voice enscribed in the grooves.
Now this is cool. I mean, look at it. Heck, you can even bid on it at this link.
This kind of technology has existed for decades. For example, at one point in time my ex-wife’s grandfather, while he was stationed in the Army, used a booth like this to record a love message to his sweetheart – later to become his wife. My ex asked me at one point to try to recover the recording on it, but these discs don’t last well over time, and the fragile metal disc showed signs of cracking and flaking. I did the best I could, but the records these booths produced were not exactly of the same quality as Abbey Road Studios.
Here’s an example of what someone might record in such a booth. It’s a great insight into what these booths were used for – almost an audiophonic equivalent to the photo booth where a young couple might take four pictures in a photo strip, of which two of them might show the young couple kissing. Awww…
Several of these machines have survived. Recording artist / producer / music genius Jack White has one of these coin-operated booths at his Third Man Records studio in Nashville, and from time to time he films artists as they record songs or voices in the booth.
For example, here’s “Weird Al” Yankovic and his band as they record a novelty track in the Third Man Records coin-operated recording studio.
I share this press release mostly because I do enjoy coin-operated machines and their actions and activities. In exchange for the loose change in your pockets or purses, you could get a quick entertaining show – whether it’s a trade stimulator that shows a simple activity in exchange for a lollipop or a cigarette; or a coin-operated “one-armed bandit” that still has the ability to separate you from your hard-earned dough, these machines are still able to entertain customers and draw crowds today.
The Morphy Auctions’ press release is listed below, including information on the Calibre Auto-Recording Booth, and if you find coin-operated machines and memorabilia as fascinating as I do, perhaps there might be a treasure or two that would catch your interest.
Morphy Auctions’ coin-op and advertising auction runs through April 13 and 14, and bids can be placed online.
Morphy’s plans lively April 12-14 Vegas auction featuring Old West relics, coin-op and gambling machines, pristine antique advertising
Featured: Robb cigar store Indian, 1915 prototype Coke bottle, rare Native-American art & implements, rare 1960s arcade booth to ‘Record Your Own Voice’
LAS VEGAS – All of the authentic Old West elements one would expect to see in a classic John Wayne movie will take center stage at Morphy Auctions’ Las Vegas gallery in mid-April. The three-day auction series opens with an April 12 sale of Gold Rush, Western and Native-American Relics featuring 412 lots of exceptional quality and historical importance. On April 13-14, the venue will resonate with the thrilling sounds of antique coin-operated music and gambling machines alongside a sensational array of antique advertising. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet.
Holding court over the April 12 session is a fantastic 78-inch-tall Samuel Robb carved-wood cigar store Indian chief with headdress. The full-figure artwork has a lifelike appearance and incomparable finish with all-natural patina. “We have a Xerox of a photo in which Samuel Robb is standing with two other employees in their New York studio, and you can see this very figure in the background,” said Morphy Auctions president Dan Morphy. With carving attributed to Samuel Robb himself, and with support from restorer Peter Deen, this late-19th-century gem is estimated at $70,000-$100,000.
During the westward expansion, the transportation of people, mail or valuables called for a stagecoach, perhaps one constructed by the famed Concord Stagecoaches of New Hampshire. A custom-made replica of one of Concord’s high-quality coaches, constructed by Latham Coachworks of Fortuna, Missouri, is ready to star in any parade or special event, and will be offered by Morphy’s with a $30,000-$40,000 estimate.
Fancy accoutrements for both horse and rider are led by a spectacular pair of G.S. Garcia silver spurs in the Elko Star pattern, with superb tooling, horseshoe cut-outs and intricate relief-engraved conchos. Estimate: $25,000-$30,000. A showy Ralph Graham figural bit with massive conchos and flying-eagle cheekpieces was purchased directly from the maker by Denny Kehl, who featured it in his 2010 book Bit, Spur and Saddle Makers of Wallowa County, Oregon. Estimate: $14,000-$18,000
Nearly 100 examples of Native-American handmade art and relics will cross the auction block, including beaded clothing and accessories, jewelry, pipes, war clubs and other implements. An impressive selection of tomahawks formerly in the Don Euing collection includes a circa-1860s tacked Western Plains-style pipe tomahawk with six-sided haft, $15,000-$20,000. Several scabbards will be up for bid, including a circa-1870s Crow fringed and beaded hide rifle scabbard with geometric beading, $15,000-$20,000.
A single-owner collection of three dozen early, handmade Indian dolls comprises one of the largest groupings of such dolls ever seen by Morphy’s experts. Among the highlights are male and female Apache dolls, both Southern Plains and Crow dolls with horses, and a Sioux doll wearing a heavily beaded buckskin dress, $3,000-$5,000.
Coin-operated amusements will rule the day on April 13, as Morphy’s rolls out a tremendous lineup of gambling, musical, vending and arcade-game machines from the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the earliest productions is an 1899 Mills Double Dewey musical upright slot machine in oak casing. “Mills spared no expense in the design and execution of this model, which took nickels on one side and quarters on the other,” Dan Morphy noted. Visually appealing with its multicolor tin wheels and ornate nickel casing, it’s not just a pretty face – its internal music box also plays a short tune when either wheel spins. In excellent condition, it is estimated at $60,000-$80,000.
Two other stars of the gambling section are a 1929 Charles Fey & Sons three-reel silver dollar slot machine, one of only a handful known to exist, $10,000-$20,000; and an original Frank Polk figural console depicting a miner holding an 8 Star Bell 5-cent slot machine. Kept in the dark regions of the old Bonanza Casino, it was gifted to a parting employee in 1969 and now comes to auction with a $25,000-$40,000 estimate.
A versatile entertainer, a circa-1920s 5-cent J.P. Seeburg Style ‘H’ Orchestrion looks like an upright piano in a grand case, but it also plays pipes, drums, a xylophone, castanets and more. Wonderfully maintained, it could make $50,000-$100,000. Meanwhile, in the sports category, two baseball-theme arcade machines are poised to knock it out of the park, pricewise. A $40,000-$50,000 estimate accompanies both a 1937 Rock-ola 5-cent World Series arcade machine and a 1948 H.C. Evans Bat-A-Score machine.
Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, at the height of Beatlemania, “Record Your Own Voice” booths sprang up on boardwalks and arcades across America. For 50 cents, users could sing or speak a message to be pressed on vinyl and dispensed four minutes later as a 45rpm record. “Very few of these booths survived. The last one I saw was sold privately for $130,000,” said Morphy. The booth to be auctioned on April 13 is in very good condition and expected to command $80,000-$100,000.
An incredible array of fresh advertising items from three major collections will be auctioned on April 14 and runs the gamut of products from alcohol, tobacco and soft drinks to transportation, barber shop and general store merchandise. Many premier, early items are associated with Coca-Cola, including a 1915 modified prototype bottle created by the Root Glass Company and submitted to Coca-Cola for consideration as their standard Coke bottle. Discovered in the collection of a retired Coca-Cola employee who had worked for Root Glass, it is considered highly important by advanced bottle collectors. Only two bottles of its type are known to exist, Morphy’s example being the only one that is intact (n.b., the other bottle sold for $240,000 in 2011).
The incomparable art in early Coca-Cola ads is displayed on signs, trays, calendars, decorative objects and vending machines entered in the sale. Among the finest artworks are a lush 1901 Hilda Clark poster; and a richly enameled 1902 “Drink Carbonated Coca-Cola” poster with another pretty model depicted. Each is estimated at $30,000-$45,000.
A superb hybrid of art and American history, a Currier & Ives “Across the Continent” hand-colored lithograph shows a steam train headed west through a town, with working settlers on one side and American Indians on the other. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Also, a lithograph by H.S. Crocker Co., advertising the 1898 California State Fair and noting “Excursion Rates on All Railroads,” may be the only surviving example and is expected to make $10,000-$15,000.
The April 12-14, 2019 auction series will be held at Morphy’s gallery, 4520 Arville St., Las Vegas, NV 89103, starting at 9 a.m. PDT each day. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live. Questions: call 877-968-8880, email email@example.com. Online: www.morphyauctions.com.
FTC TRANSPARENCY NOTICE: At no time did I receive or request any compensation or remuneration or favors in exchange for publishing this information related to this auction. I do not receive any commission or funds for any items sold in this auction.