The doors didn’t open until 7 a.m. for early buyers at the semi-annual Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine and Juke Box Show in St. Charles, Ill., on April 4.
Hundreds of dealers and shoppers swarmed into the parking lot at Pheasant Run Resort as early as 4 a.m., however, armed with flashlights to “snag some bargains before the sun comes up,” according to one bleary-eyed shopper.
What was termed “a very rare” wall mounted Pansy Gum vendor gave the customer gum, a love letter and fortune – all for one penny – could be purchased for $14,500.
Slot machines, juke boxes, amusement rides, pinball machines, advertising signs, gumball/peanut vendors, carousel horses and even motorcycles and race cars spilled out onto the pavement in the first few hours before daylight.
At 7 a.m. the early buyers forked over $50 each to shop while dealers set up inside for the three-day event, April 4-6, with Saturday and Sunday visitors paying a more modest $7 entry fee.
Once inside, visitors could view, touch, feel and maybe even purchase some of what one called, “the darnedest menagerie of neat fun stuff you ever assembled in one spot.”
Shoppers with deep pockets, and those who came to just “ooh and ahh,” stopped to admire an early 1900s 5-foot 5-inch-tall quarter-sawn oak Seeburg KT nickelodeon Music Machine offered by Frank Zygmunt, Westmont, Ill.
The handsome device automatically played a xylophone, piano, cassettes, drum, triangle and cymbals all for $22,500. Two different early 1900s Caille upright slots carried price tags of $34,900 and $125,000, and those with a smaller budget could shop the same spot and choose from several dozen countertop slot machines priced in the low thousands and up.
Vending machines that were called “rare and from my personal collection,” were shown by dealer Paul Hinden, Mequon, Wis. They included a turn-of-the-century wall-mounted metal Pansy Gum Vendor said to be, “one of three known” that offered a love letter, your fortune and gum – all for one penny. The device could hang in your home for $14,500. A 28-inch-tall “very desirable” 1930s porcelain gum vending case only was offered for $2,995. Basketball collectors checked out his 1930s E.E. Jr. basketball game with stand offering a chance to shoot three gumballs into a basket. If you made the basket, you got the gumball.
Frank Zygmunt Jr. and Sr. show off an early 1900s quarter sawn oak Seeburg KT coin operated nickelodeon music machine that played a variety of instruments, priced $22,500.
It was “strictly a fun buying experience” for two Winnipeg, Manitoba, shoppers who came to Chicagoland not to sell – but only buy. The couple, Dave Gaudet and Janet Stewart, filled a list of wanted items for their jukebox collection and, “to catch up for fun time with friends.”
Gaudet purchased a top hat for $10 at the nearby Kane County Flea Market and while perching it on his head, proclaimed himself the “Mayor of Chicagoland.”
Russ and Joan Newman, along with son Sam, brought a selection of restored soda pop machines to the Chicagoland show. An early 1960s Vendo 63 was offered for $2,900, a Cavalier ’72 for $3,900 and a Vendo ’81 priced at $4,900. Besides soda machines displayed at the show, the family has “another 50-60 in process of being restored.”
Ohio dealer Bill Lippay of Strongsville showed off a fully restored one-penny QT slot machine for $2,250 and a table full of coin operated trade stimulators priced from $425 to $1,050. Lippay said he restored the QT slot himself, putting about “50 hours into the project.”
Dale Robinson, part of the Robinson family that runs the famous Kane County Flea Market, also in St. Charles, set up to show off classic advertising, vintage arcade games and a selection of restored outboard motors from the 1920s-1940s priced from $900 to $2,300. Robinson split his time between the Chicagoland show and duties at the flea market for the weekend, calling both shows a, “real fun experience for both buying and selling.”
Art Herzog, a 21-year Chicagoland regular, traveled to the show from Flushing, Mich. Catching many an eye at his booth was a 1930s coin operated 26-inch by 15-inch Dutch pool table priced at $2,600 and a 20-inch-tall oak Ferris Wheel cigar-winning gambling device for $995.
Radio collectors hovered around his booth to admire 1930s Motorola Catalan butterscotch color radio priced at $3,900.
Vintage advertising was shown by first-time dealers Greg and Anne Rosenak of Peoria, Ill. Of special interest was a 16-inch-tall 1930s electric advertising automaton, $1,200, and a 9-inch-tall Kool cigarette lighter, $650.
Many people stopped to admire, play and purchase the arcade and pinball machines offered by Pat Hamelet of Chicago Pinball. All ages were attracted to a Data East Jurassic Park game, circa 1992, priced at $2,600, a 1991 Midway Cruisin’ World auto race game with rare 27-inch monitor for $1,800, and two bowling machines, offered for $2,600 and $2,800 each.
“I’ve been showing at Chicagoland forever,” chuckled Michael Pacak of Canfield, Ohio, who showed a large selection of electronic pinball games. Many folks stopped to admire, and play, a 1976 Elton John Captain Fantastic, $1,200; a 1990 Simpsons (patterned after the popular television show) $1,350, and an early 1960s Williams Soccer pinball for $595.
The fall show will be held Nov. 14-16 at Pheasant Run Resort. For more information, call 847-244-9263, 815-353-1593, or go online to www.chicagolandshow.com.