Photos and story by Jack Kelly
Bitter temperatures, wintery blasts of snow and a change in location met both dealers and visitors alike for the semi-annual Nov. 16-18 Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine and Jukebox Show Nov. 16-18.
After 30-plus years at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois, the new show opened with a sellout crowd of more than 325 dealers at the new home, Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center at Grayslake, Illinois.
(Read reasons for the change in location and comments from dealers and visitors HERE.)
Although the show was expanded, admission prices remained the same.
“Sure, I forked over $50 for the early entry three-day pass, but it’s worth it,” said one shopper who visited the show during dealer set-up on Friday. More frugal visitors paid $7 to shop on either Saturday or Sunday, or $11 for a 2-day pass.
Antiques, advertising found at the show
Shoppers who had room at home for high-end large collectibles could satisfy their tastes at many booths at the Chicagoland Show.
Those seeking drop-dead gorgeous porcelain signs were drawn to the booth of Minneapolis dealer Darryl Tilden. Farm advertising collectors gawked at his 8-foot-tall 1930s Case farm implement eagle, which could hang at your place for $16,500. Meanwhile the automotive crowd hovered around a 60-inch-diameter 1940s Pontiac Indian sign priced at $15,000.
“It took me two long days of driving to get here, but it was worth it,” said 20-year Chicagoland veteran Steve Cardon of Salt Lake City. Foot traffic stopped to gawk at his 71-inch-tall fancy 1939 light-up AMI Singing Tower jukebox — ready for your coin drop, along with $9,500. Those with a smaller wallet and less space checked out his Seeburg 148 “Trash Can” jukebox which could be taken home for a more modest $1,800.
Once again, the largest display covered 10 booths with vintage goodies displayed by Bill Rawski and business partner Gosia Korsakowski of Zap Props, Inc., in Chicago. A 4-by 5-foot porcelain light-up Model Meat Market advertising sign carried a price tag of $25,000 with another tag nearby that stated, “Sold to American Sign Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio.” Bicycle collectors oohed and ahhed over a stunning 18-inch-diameter light-up 1930s Schwinn spinner advertising sign priced at $5,500. Rawski said with a smile, “We love the oddball expensive stuff, but also have lots of other neat collectibles starting at $50 and up.”
“That is cool, rare — and expensive!” blurted out one shopper, pointing to an animated 38-inch-tall wood and composition advertising display featuring a waist-high full figure salesman with suit and bow tie at a podium — with 12 different movements! The “tapper,” as the figure is called, swung a walking stick up and down to tap on a store window while moving his head, body and eyes in various ways, all to attract shopper’s attention.
At the same time, his other hand moved to point to an animated display book in front of the podium which had flipping advertising pages. The tapper could perform at your place for $9,000.
At the same spot, a showy mammoth metal clear dome top 6-foot-tall 1964 World’s Fair blow injection molding machine could pour, form and construct a full dimension toy and deliver it to you while you watch, for 25 cents — and for $32,500.
Both the tapper and injection blow molding machine were shown by Ricky Madison Sky of Collector-Concier-International, Maple Ridge, B.C. Canada.
Also seen at the coin-op & advertising show
The show also featured wood full size donkeys, elephants and — oh my! One was an animated item, a full size 1890s hand-carved nodding donkey carnival ride figure carrying the artist’s name, “Bayol.” It could grace your living room for $3,995. The oddball item was shown by Lee Godbey of Burton, Michigan. He also displayed a 4-foot-long “anatomically correct” wood elephant that could join that donkey in your collection for $850. Music lovers checked out his all-original 1957 Seeburg model 201 jukebox that could play your favorites for $7,900.
Across the event center, another Seeburg coin-op item — this one a countertop 1930s nickel-operated horse race trade stimulator on the original stand — was priced at $6,500 by Otto Dorris of Bixby, Oklahoma. His late 1940s 6-foot-long porcelain and neon Buick Lubricare advertising sign, was tagged $6,500. It was marked “sold” early in the show.
“We sold this one 30 years ago and just got it back to sell again,” said dealer Frank Zykmunt Jr., gesturing to a 5-foot-tall 1905 Mills Big 6 wood and cast iron floor model quarter play slot machine tagged at $18,000. The Westmont, Illinois, dealer also offered a 1946 floor model Jennings Prospector silver dollar slot machine priced at $9,000. He estimated he offered “about 80 machines on the floor” at the Chicagoland Show.
It was a nearly 9-hour drive to the show for Dave and Allie Smith, who operate Old 54 Antiques in Macks Creek, Missouri. They showed off a complete 4-foot-tall early 1900s marble, cast iron and glass Hires Root Beer syrup dispenser rescued from “an old long-closed Kansas store while we dodged rats on the floor.” It was priced at $5,200.
It’s not unusual to see the children of dealers helping out at Chicagoland — and sometimes even grandchildren. Eleven-year-old Riley Newman was helping out at the booth of grandparents Russ and Joann Newman of Elgin, Illinois, “selling fresh and delicious popcorn for just $1 a bag.” Restored vintage Coke machines, gas pumps, slot machines, advertising signs and of course, “delicious popcorn” was enjoyed by browsers at the show.
Robert McCurdy drove 650 miles to the show from what he called “a tiny town of under 1,000 residents” in White, South Dakota, to show off a big crowd pleaser. The prize was an 18-inch-tall nickel plated cast iron and wood counter top all original Watling spinning wheel slot machine. The nickel operated slot could spin and entertain guests at your place for $8,500.
Though there were many of the usual items at the show, there still were seldom seen surprises. “It was literally a barn find” said John Carini of Milwaukee, who set up with his son Nick for years at Chicagoland. He pointed to an oddball 30-inch-tall sheet metal contraption with screen printed front stating, “barn fresh eggs 15 cents.”
A coin-slot in the front offered space for a nickel and dime. “It was pulled from beneath a hay pile in a barn in Portland, Oregon,” added Carini, who priced the contraption at $425. At the same spot, a porcelain Northwestern ’33 vending machine that Carini said was “in tough-to-find cobalt blue color” was priced at $425.
The name “Columbus” is a sought after-brand of peanut and gumball vending machines, but John Mahar of Saginaw, Michigan, showed off one of the most desirable models which vended a gum for one penny, but also contained a small spinning wheel on the center post that worked as a gambling device with varying payoffs. You could drop a penny at your place and take a chance on winning more than just a gumball — for $2,500.
The sound and sites of whirling steel balls in electronic pinball machines still draw a crowd — and many stopped to play, admire and sometimes purchase machines at the show. Phil Hubert of Arcades At Home was kept busy fielding questions and completing deals on 16 units on display, priced from $1,500 to $8,800 each. The veteran dealer said he’s been showing at Chicagoland “from the beginning” and had another 100 more machines at his Romeoville show room.
Another dealer, Jack Freund, Springfield, Wisconsin, has been coming to the show since the start and is known for rare early vending, gambling and trade stimulators. Many people stopped to admire his 18-inch-tall oak 20th century Novelty Co. machine that offered a stick of gum or cigar for a winner, sale priced at $2,100.
Still others checked out his 12-inch-tall fancy cast aluminum base 1930s glass dome dice popper that offered “awards in merchandise” if the winning numbers popped up on the dice. It was priced at $2,175.
Although the twice-yearly Chicagoland Show offers a platform for buying and selling, another group assembled there for a meal, meeting and fellowship with C.O.C.A. the Coin Op Collector’s Association (https://www.coinopclub.org). The group saluted one of its members at the November event by nominating Bill Howard of Akron, Ohio into the C.O.C.A. Hall of Fame. Howard also took advantage of the trip to show off what he termed “a never seen before coin operated counter top Regina Music Box.”
As the show ended Sunday afternoon, what one vendor called “the kinks and wrinkles of changing location” were taken in stride by most attendees. Show co-teamer promoter Dawn Greco stated, “we saw lots of new faces — both dealers and visitors.”
The spring Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine and Jukebox Show will again be held at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, Grayslake, Illinois, March 29-31, 2019.
Dealers can get information from co-promoter Bob Traynoff at 1-847-244-9263. Show information is available from co-promoter Kevin Greco at 1-815-353-1593 and at www.chicagolandshow.com.
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