Semi-annual Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine and Jukebox Show draws crowds

Dealers setting up at the semi-annual Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine and Juke Box Show Nov. 14-16 traded comments on the national economy – with varied predictions on how it would affect the big-ticket buying event.

When all was said and done, it was the usual mixed bag of “worst show I’ve ever had” to “best show I’ve ever had,” with many falling between those benchmarks.

Early buyers swarmed into the parking lot about 4 a.m. on Friday, creating a buying frenzy that one dealer described as “avalanche of cash” and continued inside starting at 7 a.m. where entrants forked over $50 a head admission.

The twice-yearly event was held at Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Ill., 35 miles west of Chicago, and offered general admission on Saturday and Sunday for $7 each.

Bundled in the show parking lot with coats and gloves, Keith Stelter and Jim Pellegrini traveled to the show from Niles, Mich., with a truckload of goodies and arcade games including a 1954 Chicago Coin Home Run Baseball game. Stelter said the game was “a rare six-player machine and a real bargain at $2,500.”

The pair said another partner sold a varied lot of gumball and peanut machines during the first couple hours and called parking lot foot traffic “very good.”

Later, as dealers filed inside on Friday, 28-year show veteran John Papa of Mayfield, N.Y., said “it’s a little bit tight, collectors are a bit more cautious” but added he was showing his usual desirable big-ticket items. Among them was a completely restored 1947 Filben Maestro 30-selection 78 rpm record jukebox with “design reminiscent of a lighted locomotive” that could play tunes at your place for $8,500. And an actual 27-inch-long coin operated countertop locomotive with “double clockwork mechanism and two automaton-type workers in the cab.” Papa said the “Smith train was one of three known and priced at $50,000.”

“We always do well here but this is the best we’ve ever done” said Todd Perkins, St. Joseph Avenue Antiques, St. Joseph, Mo. As of Saturday afternoon he said he had sold “four pop machines, five juke boxes and six different wall speakers.” Many folks stopped to admire and play several jukes at the booth, including an all original 1926 model 1426 Rockola, $4,800, an all original 1938 Wurlitzer Model 61 countertop juke for $5,000 and a 1949 Rockola Model 1428 priced $4,500.

Still another dealer, that did not want to be named, said he had sold less than $50 worth of merchandise during the same time.

“I set up here to promote my restoration services” said Bob Peltz of Big Boy Toys, Indianapolis, Ind. His business card reads: “Show quality restoration of pre-1975 jukeboxes, pinball and arcade games, soda machines and other game room collectables.” Peltz displayed a completely restored Gottlieb Bank-a-Ball Pinball machine and several soda pop machines with “before and after” photos, adding, “I’ve handed out lots of business cards and made a couple on-site sales too.”

Totally restored light-up Jennings slot machines filled the booth of Fred Abel, The Bent Coin, Las Vegas, Nev. Catching many an eye was a 1950s Sun Chief, $2,850; a 1950s Stardust, $2,600; a 1950s Nevada Club, $4,600; and a 1950s Standard Chief for $2,200. When one shopper asked if his Las Vegas location yielded “finds” from the old casinos, Abel smiled and said, “No those old machines were gone a long time ago.”

“What a pretty lineup” gushed on shopper, pointing to three matching Mills “Sweetheart” slots offered by Bob Delong of Johnsonburg, Pa. The junior size gambling machines, with shiny chrome hearts on the front in 1-cent, 10-cent and 5-cent models could grace your rec. room for $3,500 each.

Folks with a taste for historic early slot machines hovered around the booth of Alan Sax, Long Grove, Ill. The dealer showed off a floor model 1906 Mills 20th Century quarter play upright slot with built in music box offering eight different tunes, along with a chance to win cash. The dealer said it featured a “rare mahogany case” and could play – and pay if you laid down the asking price of $42,000.

Another early machine, an 18-inch-tall quarter sawnoak countertop Mills Jockey, circa 1900s, was brought to Pheasant Run by David and Crystal Quattrocchi from nearby Aurora, Ill. The quarter play coin op machine was restored “by working on and off over a year” and was priced at $11,000. The couple also offered a World War II era 17-inch-tall “Bomb Hit” penny drop machine with an original wartime airplane illustration on the play field for $1,500.

“Mechanical coin operated countertop gun games are my niche” said Roger Hilden, Crow River Trading Co., who traveled more than 8 hours from Minneapolis, bringing along a gang of family and friends. His booth was filled with games – plus at one time – his wife, two sons, their wives, one daughter plus her boyfriend and a small fry, his 2-year-old grandson, Asher. “We’re a coin op family,” quipped Hilden, who said, “The kids had a blast, and it might be the last time we assemble the crew (family) at the show.” Both family and friends, wearing official Crow River Trading Co., shirts, tried out gun games at his booth including two Big Game Hunter ABT models, circa 1920-30s priced at $1,600 and $1,900 each.

“I came with a couple other guys and we’ve had a ball buying at the show,” said Jim Williams of Fort Wayne, Ind. What was his favorite purchase? “A cast iron early William Michael six-gumballs-for-3-cents machine that I probably paid too much for, but I really like it” he said, adding that a buddy picked up a “real good deal on an all original wood case early 1900s Zeno gum machine for just $500.”

Not all dealers and buyers concentrated on just coin operated machines.

Carol Estes, who owns and operates Antique Junction Antique Mall in LaPorte, Ind., said, “it was a full two days of power-shopping but I’m very happy with the vintage advertising art I found,” adding, “I spent more than I anticipated but couldn’t pass up the good deals and I spent two wonderful days with my sweetie.”

Griff Winters and wife Donna traveled from Grayslake, Ill., and checked out “lots of fun stuff” at the show, but had their target set on pre-prohibition brewery items.

Bill Howard of Akron, Ohio, showed off an unusual highly detailed 12-inch-tall cast metal World War I fighter pilot holding an airplane propeller. The pilot’s head flipped over – to reveal a cigarette lighter! “He’s not Lindberg, but from the same era,” said Howard. At the same spot, a cast spelter, bronze wash 8-inch-tall advertising figure of the famous cartoon character “The Yellow Kid” was shown “with a value of $2,000.”
Howard said he had been coming to Chicagoland “for about 15 years, and it’s lots of fun.”

The spring show will once again be held April 3, 4 and 5 at Pheasant Run Resort, St. Charles, Ill. For more information, call 815-353-1593 or visit

Click here to discuss this story and more in the message boards.