What I wouldn’t give to have one of these antique slot machines sitting amongst my Victorian antiques in the parlor. I’m in the process of selling my ca. 1999 pool table whose removal will open a new swath of floor real estate for Victorian antiques!
If I wanted antique slot machines to take some of that space, I’d need to be prepared to spend between $54,000 and $108,000, which is the expected price range for the sale of this one according to governmentauction.com.
Slot Machine History
Sittman and Pitt invented a five drum gambling machine in 1891 that represented a deck of 50 cards due to the popularity of poker at the time. It is considered the precursor to modern gambling machines. When a customer won on these machines, they may have been offered a cigar or beer as payment, but that was obviously awarded by a human.
Charles Fey provided the revolutionary changes to the slot machine design that provided for automatic payment by the machine itself by employing 3 drums instead of 5, greatly reducing the number of winning permutations. This was the famous Liberty Bell model which included a cracked Liberty Bell as one of the images in the reels.
According to Slot Machine Resource:
There are some who say he invented the first mechanical slot machine in 1887, four years BEFORE Sittman and Pitt’s machine hit the bars of New York. There are others who state that Fey conceived his innovation in 1895, four years AFTER Sittman and Pitt’s machine. It is the year 1895 however, that seems to prove more popular with gambling history enthusiasts. Regardless of the chronology, Fey’s invention was revolutionary.
The Caille Eclipse will be sold today starting at $10,000. Judging from other machines I’ve Googled, it is probably from 1898-1907.