DENVER, Pa. — Long before the era of instant entertainment from television, downloaded music and streaming videos, Americans could amuse themselves with pocket change in a game room. The thrilling atmosphere of these venues, whether indoors or on a seaside promenade, echoed with the tinkle and thrum of slot machines, the tinkle of trifles and orchestral tunes performed by mechanical music machines. . Coins have also been found in saloons and other social establishments. Today, mechanical amusements of yesteryear are displayed in collections from coast to coast, often flanked by antique advertising signs from the same period. Many of the rarest and finest antique coins and signs have passed through the doors of Morphy Auctions, which will hold its next sale of these popular specialties May 4-6.
The connoisseur’s selection includes more than 2,100 coveted 19th and early 20th century coins and advertising signs that would rarely be available elsewhere, especially in such beautiful condition.
Morphy’s will kick off the band with a JP Seeburg-style Art Style Orchestrion “G”, a technological marvel that is as stunningly beautiful as it is intricate. Designed as an upright piano with four internally lit art glass panels, it also houses violin and flute pipes; a mandolin accessory, a tympanic, a bass and a snare drum; a cymbal and a triangle. With exceptional volume, it plays a “G” style music roll with a selection of 65 notes. In great condition, the Orchestrion could crescendo into the $40,000 to $60,000 range.
A rare and very early (pre-1902) version of the Schiemer-Yates 5-cent Musical Cupid vertical slot machine is notable for having been manufactured before the formation of Caille-Scheimer and his successor, Caille Brothers. His cabinet is somewhat smaller than others of his time, but it has life-size casts, giving it an alternate appearance that makes it particularly attractive to collectors. Its original music mechanism relies on an attached echo chamber that delivers great sound and tone. This turn of the century beauty is in excellent condition, ready to play and pay for. He keeps his keys and comes up for auction with an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000.
One of Regina’s earliest musical achievements is the extremely rare Seth Thomas Style 3 room clock, which peaked in popularity between 1895 and 1905. Standing over 9 feet tall, it contained a 15½-inch duplex comb movement and automatically played music by striking the hour or pressing a side button. The oak example offered by Morphy’s – whose origins are unknown prior to its 1989 purchase from an estate – is unique in that it is the only known Regina Style 3 with a coin slot. the Encyclopedia of Automatic Musical Instruments by David Bowers refers to the existence of a single example of this model with a coin slot and states that it had sat in a hotel lobby for years. Estimate: $10,000 to $20,000
A very rare circa 1902 Watling 5-Cent “Puck” Musical Vertical Slot comes from a provenance that is only one degree from one of the greatest heavyweight boxers. It was originally owned by Jack Dempsey’s friend and training partner, Eddie Bohns. For 65 years, Bohns presided over North Denver’s legendary Pig ‘N Whistle, a restaurant and sports bar that attracted dozens of professional athletes and other celebrities, including Roy Rogers, the Dorsey brothers and astronaut Wally. Schirra. The Puck machine to be auctioned includes an oak cabinet with all original castings, a lithographed Puck wheel and the original musical function. In immaculate condition, with keys, it is estimated between $30,000 and $50,000.
There will likely be stiff competition on a 5-cent cast iron Mills “The Pilot” commercial pacemaker with nautical scenes on the front and sides. These original castings are unique to The Pilot and have never been used on any other Mills machine. The unit was designed to reward winners with business checks worth 10 cents to $2. In excellent working condition with an included key, this highly desirable antique is estimated between $15,000 and $25,000.
Early vending machine collectors will have 120 stellar options to choose from. Topping the category is an incredible 1899 Huyler 1-Cent Vending Machine designed to dispense both Huyler Chocolate and St Nicholas Pepsin Gum. Its rich cobalt blue and white porcelain panels, which are mounted on a wooden case, feature images of St. Nicholas holding advertising signs for the brand of chewing gum. Its mechanism is made of cast bronze and iron. A similar example appears in the reference book Quiet seller too, by Bill and Peggy Enes. In immaculate condition, this machine is ready to dispense the pride of ownership to the successful bidder, but it will cost more than a penny. Its presale estimate is $40,000 to $60,000.
A pepsin gum vending machine with historical context is the Diavalo Loop the Loop, which is based on a daredevil cyclist who toured turn-of-the-century circuses. When a penny is dropped into the slot, Diavalo loops the cycle path surrounding the front window and the customer receives a tab of gum. Similar to an example shown in the above Quiet seller toothe machine comes with a prestigious provenance from the 1994 Sotheby’s auction of the Dr James W Smith Jr. collection. Estimate: $20,000 to $40,000
More than 400 Coca-Cola advertising lots await bidders, including an extremely rare round glass sign from the late 19th century touting the soft drink as “The Ideal Brain Tonic” and a cure for headaches and ” mental and physical exhaustion”. Rated 7.8 and the only known survivor of this type, it is estimated at $10,000-20,000. Additionally, displaying an incredible 9.25 condition with no visible discoloration, a circa 1914 self-framed lithographed tin Coca-Cola sign serves to showcase the pretty pink model known as “Betty Girl”. The 41 x 31 inch panel invites bids in the $6,000 to $10,000 range.
The parade of soft drink rarities continues with an embossed, painted tin Moxie sign bearing the messages: “It’s so healthy, so fortifying” and “Of course you’ll get some.” To demonstrate the effervescent quality of the drink, its central image depicts a sumptuously dressed woman who smiles as she elegantly pours the product from bottle to glass. The sign is in excellent condition with vibrant colors and a beautiful sheen, and is presented in a vintage wooden frame. Estimate: $12,000 to $16,000
Another soft drink highlight is the bright and colorful advertising tray emblazoned with ‘Drink Deacon Brown King of Phosphates’. Dated to 1911, three years before the outbreak of World War I, its patriotic theme includes stars and stripes and the image of a charming young woman raising a glass of drink to her lips. Manufactured by Kauffmann and Strauss, New York, the board is in 9.5+ condition. Arguably the best known example, his bid estimate is $8,000 to $12,000.
A very old lithographed tin sign advertises “Sleepy Eye The Meritorious Flour” and features a central oval image of Indian Chief Sisseton Dakota “Old Sleepy Eye” surrounded by several well-detailed images of Native Americans, buffaloes, a bear and “pearls”. or “feathered” Native American attire. The graphics and colors are amazing, earning it a 9 rating. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000
Morphy’s Wednesday/Thursday/Friday May 4, 5 & 6, 2022 Coin & Antiques Auction will be held live at the Morphy Gallery, 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517, from 9 a.m. Eastern Time. Call to schedule a preview appointment. All forms of remote bidding will be available, including mail order, telephone and live over the internet via Morphy Live. For information on an item for sale, call 877-968-8880 or email [email protected] View the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid live at www.morphyauctions.com.