1 Artifacts reveal the presence of coin-operated machines as far back as the 1st century A.D.; and the very thing they dispensed might surprise you: They were used to control the amount of Holy Water distributed at temples.
2 Coin-operated machines continue to draw much attention and interest at auctions. In 2012, the following made headlines: A working, dual vend Chiclets Stollwerck Chocolate Vending Machine (estimated at $10,000-$15,000) sold for $28,200, and a Rol-A-Top Cherry Front 10-cent Coin-Op Machine brought $6,000 at Morphy’s Auctions in August; plus, a Buckley Bones Dice Cash Payout went for $13,800 and a Sun Manufacturing Co. Two-Wheel Bicycle Trade Simulator for $9,200 this past June at James D. Julia’s toy, doll and advertising auction.
3 Coin-operated machines dispense many things, but among the most unusual items have included gold bars at airports, live lobster catching games, live bait (for the next fishing excursion) and fresh eggs.
4 The Penny Arcadia, associated with the International Arcade Museum, is a living showcase of several hundred coin-op machines and video games, including an early 1800s coin-operated tobacco honor box and the first coin-operated kiddie ride of the 1920s. Also featured are the popular pinball machines of the 1960s and the game-changing arcade video games like Asteroids. The Arcadia’s owners are looking for a permanent facility for the massive collection, but for now it is displayed at various public exhibitions. To learn more, visit www.arcade-museum.com/penny-arcadia.
5 Coin-operated arcade games have long been popular collectibles and they got their start in 1971 when The Galaxy Game made its debut on the campus of Stanford University.
6 The largest club for people who enjoy coin-op machines is the Coin Operated Collector’s Association (C.O.C.A.), a non-profit organization with a membership of more than 700. For more information or to join, visit www.coinopclub.org.
7 Various types of coin-operated machines exist, but among the most popular are gambling devices and vending machines, according to Doug Cain, president of C.O.C.A. Slot machines are popular gambling units, while the most collectible vending machines distribute gum or peanuts.
8 Among the most sought after coin-op machines are those manufactured in the late 1800s through the early 1900s.
9 Like most collectibles, age, rarity and originality are key features collectors look for in coin-op machines. And the most preferred among serious coin-op collectors are those that have not been restored and are 100 percent original.
10 There’s still time to become part of the exciting world of coin-operated machine collecting in 2012, by taking part in any of the more than 10 auctions with a focus on coin-op, slated for the next few months. To see the schedule, visit www.arcade-museum.com/events.php. Like most collectibles, age, rarity and originality are key features collectors look for in coin-op machines. And the most preferred among serious coin-op collectors are those that have not been restored and are 100 percent original.
Compiled by Antoinette Rahn. Sources: Kovels, Smithsonian.com – Smithsonian Magazine, coinopclub.org, Doug Cain of C.O.C.A, International Arcade Museum, Morphy’s Auctions, James D. Julia Auctions.
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