Sunday, January 20, 2013

Antiques: Slot Machine

Mills Novelty Co. Skyscraper
1c slot machine, 1932.
One of my favorite things about family history is all the antique heirlooms that get passed down generations. I think my favorite of my family's is my grandmother's old slot machine. It was labelled Mills Novelty Co. so after a bit of online research, I discovered this model was made in 1932 and known as "Skyscraper", appropriately named after it's design. I could only find 5 cent versions of this online but ours is definitely a penny machine.

It came into our family when my great grandfather found it dumped by the side of a road, all the money having been stolen out of it. He took it home, fixed it up, and it's been in our family ever since. As a child, I spent many hours entertained by putting penny after penny in and pulling the handle. My grandmother kept a container of pennies just for us grandkids to use with the slot machine and I can remember begging her for more pennies when the cupful she'd first give me would run out. It's a miracle I didn't grow up to develop a gambling addiction! But I suppose it's different when you can open the machine and get all your money back.

Detail of the brand name.
It doesn't look in great condition but I think it just needs to be cleaned; it probably hasn't been used since I was a kid. It still works, though apparently sometimes it breaks and fortunately my uncle knows how to fix it.

Of the 5c versions of it I found on the internet, sometimes the black paint is blue instead. One of them sold for $1,200 in 2007, another is currently being sold for $2,100, and an ebay auction recently sold one for $1,278. Other auctions have starting bids around $400 but are estimated up to $5,200.

Does anyone know why I can't seem to find another 1c version of this model? Were they rarer? Older? Any additional information would be welcome!

What antique treasures have you inherited?

Thanks to my mom for the pictures!

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