Featured: Elusive ‘Hats Off’ penny arcade lung tester, $50K-$100K; Yeager cigar store maiden, Caille & Mills draw poker cigar trade stimulators, Rock-Ola 1¢ baseball machine, shaving mugs
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – After a four-year hiatus, Morphy’s will re-establish their Las Vegas presence with an Oct. 27-30 auction of premium-quality coin-op and gambling machines, antique advertising and general store treasures. Going forward, the company’s spacious new Las Vegas facility will serve as the permanent venue for all of Morphy’s popular Coin-Op & Antique Advertising sales, as well as an added Automobilia & Petroliana auction in February of 2024. All forms of remote bidding will be available at these events, including live online through Morphy Live.
Auction Curator Tom Tolworthy, a renowned expert on the subject of coin-operated and gambling machines, said Morphy’s return to Las Vegas has been very well received by collectors in the western states.
“The response has been overwhelming. West Coast consignors who were hesitant about having their valuable machines shipped across the country to our flagship gallery in Pennsylvania were excited to have the option of selling them in our fall coin-op auction in Las Vegas,” Tolworthy said. “Our trucks travel to all western states, and we have a large, super-secure facility for the processing and storage of consignments. Many will find that it’s an easy drive to attend the auction, where they’ll encounter the same friendly team from Morphy’s that they’ve come to know so well over the years.”
Boasting more than 2,200 lots over four days, the auction presents a panoramic history of machines whose original purpose was to entertain, dispense goods or offer patrons the chance to hit a jackpot, all for the cost of a coin. More than 15 excellent upright slot machines are included. Additionally, the selection includes some of the rarest and finest advertising signs and country store antiques Morphy’s has ever handled.
Collectors are likely to discover many early cast-iron coin-ops that they’ve never seen before, like a beautifully decorated circa-1910 Caille 5-cent “Tourist” slot machine. To play, one would choose a country from the reel, deposit a nickel and pull the handle. If a match appeared, the machine would pay out accordingly. An exceptional prize for the advanced collector, this desirable machine is estimated at $50,000-$80,000.
An extremely rare and ornate Caille 1-cent Hy-Lo cast-iron “draw poker” competitive cigar trade stimulator is in untouched all-original condition. It is fresh to the market from a 30-year private collection and comes with a Caille cast-iron stand and key. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000. A circa-1902 Mills 1-cent Hy-Lo “draw poker: cast-iron trade stimulator retains its crisp original casting with amazing detail and patina. Possibly the finest original example known, it carries a $20,000-$35,000 estimate.
As penny arcade machines go, few can rival an original circa-1904 Mills
1-cent novelty “Hats Off’ lung tester. It is adorned with the faces of eight different men whose tin (replicating “straw”) hats can be blown off if the user’s lung strength is sufficient. Its panel challenges: “Come On Boys…Who Blows Best.” One of fewer than a handful known to exist, this near-unicorn amongst arcade machines could realize $50,000-$100,000 at auction.
For the sports-minded collector, a 1937-1940 Rock-Ola 1-cent baseball arcade machine fits the bill. It has nine hand-painted figural characters representing players in the 1937 All-Star World Series, which pitted the New York Yankees against their crosstown rivals, the New York Giants. A restored Model A, Type S machine with its original keys, it is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.
A circa-1940s Frank Polk carved one-armed bandit slot machine depicts a 72-inch standing cowboy in Polk’s inimitable style with the inclusion of a Mills 5-cent high-top slot machine. In super original condition, this artist-signed piece is estimated at $25,000-$50,000. Exquisite artistry is also seen in an original circa-1880 John Philip Yeager (attrib.) carved wooden cigar store figure in the form of an Indian maiden. Displaying beautiful polychrome paint, with no repairs or touch-up inpainting, the 82-inch-high figure is entered in the sale with a $40,000-$70,000 estimate.
A wealth of top-notch, high-condition signs will be offered, among them a rare and outstanding circa-1930s Chevrolet Art Deco single-sided porcelain neon sign with a Telechron clock, $60,000-$85,000; and a double-sided porcelain Peerless Stages Bus Depot sign with a colorful bus graphic. With ides graded 9.0 and 8.75 out of 10, it is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.
Coca-Cola fans will love the selections available to them, including a visually stunning 68-inch-wide light-up blinking Coca-Cola script sign, $20,000-$30,000; and a 1913 “Coca-Cola Or Goldelle Ginger Ale” lithographed paper calendar, $12,000-$18,000. The plentitude of signs advertising alcoholic beverages includes a hard-to-find Hochgreve Beer (Green Bay, Wis.) seven-color porcelain corner sign. A strong condition 8.9 with brilliant colors and high gloss, it is expected to make $10,000-$20,000.
A fresh-to-market collection of tobacco pocket tins awaits collectors and includes an extremely rare highlight: a Peggy O’Neil Cut Plug Tobacco (Morton Tobacco Co., Lynchburg, Va.) pocket tin with the image of a seated Victorian lady. Retaining brilliant colors, and likely the only known example of its type, it is estimated at $10,000-$30,000.
Harkening to the golden era of barber shops, an advanced collection of more than 150 antique occupational shaving mugs will cross the auction block, including some of the finest examples ever to appear at auction. A mug with the image of a deep sea diver’s helmet, and a roller skater’s mug showing a pair of skates are each estimated at $1,000-$2,000. A historically important mug bears the name “Jacob Studebaker,” youngest of the Studebaker brothers of automotive fame. The mug is artfully decorated with the image of two men on a horse-drawn wagon emblazoned with the slogan “Studebaker Brothers Builders of Fine Vehicles.” Estimate: $1,000-$5,000
Morphy’s October 27-30, 2023 auction of Coin-Op & Gambling Machines, Antique Advertising and General Store Items will be held at Morphy’s Las Vegas location: 4520 Arville St., #1, Las Vegas, NV 89103. Start time on all four days is 9am PDT / 12 noon EDT. All forms of remote bidding will be available, including absentee, by phone, or live via the Internet through Morphy Live. Questions: call 877-968-8880 or email email@example.com. View the full catalog online at https://auctions.morphyauctions.com/catalog.aspx?auctionid=598
All images courtesy of Morphy Auctions
Double-sided porcelain Peerless Stages Bus Depot sign with colorful bus graphic. Sides graded 9.0 and 8.75 out of 10. Size: 30½in x 36½in. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000
Rare and outstanding Chevrolet Art Deco single-sided porcelain neon sign with Telechron clock. Circa 1930s. Marked ‘Walker & Co., Detroit.’ A sensational display piece. Size: 96in x 76in. Estimate: $60,000-$85,000
Hochgreve Beer (Green Bay, Wis.) seven-color porcelain corner sign. Condition 8.9 with brilliant colors and high gloss. Size: 14in x 20in. Hard-to-find sign, especially in such fine condition. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000
1913 ‘Coca-Cola Or Goldelle Ginger Ale’ lithographed paper calendar with image of beautiful woman offering a choice of beverages with the question ‘Which?’ Size: 26in x 42in. Excellent condition. Estimate: $12,000-$18,000
Visually stunning Coca-Cola light-up blinking script sign. Can is original; electronics and bulbs are modern. Size: 24in x 216in x 68in. Restored. Estimate $20,000-$30,000
From a fresh-to-market tobacco pocket tin collection, an extremely rare Peggy O’Neil Cut Plug Tobacco (Morton Tobacco Co., Lynchburg, Va.) pocket tin with depiction of seated Victorian lady. Brilliant colors. Possibly the only known example of its type. Estimate: $10,000-$30,000
Circa-1880 original carved wooden cigar store figure of Indian maiden attributed to John Philip Yeager (German/American, 1823-1899). Beautiful polychrome paint. Shows no repairs or touch-up inpainting. Size: 24in x 24in x 82in high. Estimate: $40,000-$70,000
From an advanced collection of more than 150 antique occupational shaving mugs, an example with the image of a quaint deep sea diver’s helmet and the name ‘Henry Ludens’ shown in gilt. Estimate: $1,000-$2,000
1937-1940 Rock-Ola 1-cent baseball arcade machine with nine hand-painted figural characters representing players in the 1937 All-Star World Series, which pitted the New York Yankees against the New York Giants. Model A, Type S. Restored. Includes keys. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000
Circa-1910 Caille 5-cent ‘Tourist’ cast-iron slot machine. Player would choose ‘country,’ deposit nickel, and pull handle. Wonderful overall condition with attractive patina. A prize for the advanced collector. Estimate: $50,000-$80,000
Circa-1902 Caille 1-cent Hy-Lo cast-iron ‘draw poker’ competitive cigar trade stimulator with ornate decoration. Extremely rare and in untouched all-original condition, including the marquee and paper award card. Fresh to the market from a 30-year private collection. Comes with Caille cast-iron stand and key. Estimate: $40,000-$60,000
Circa-1902 Mills 1-cent Hy-Lo ‘draw poker’ cast-iron trade stimulator. Crisp original casting with amazing detail and patina. Excellent condition, possibly the finest original example known. Estimate: $20,000-$35,000
Circa-1940s Frank Polk carved one-armed bandit slot machine stand in the form of a cowboy with a Mills 5-cent high-top slot machine. Super original condition. Artist-signed near figure’s left ear. Height: 72in. Estimate: $25,000-$50,000
Original circa-1904 Mills 1-cent novelty ‘Hats Off’ penny arcade lung tester with faces of eight different men whose tin (designed to replicate ‘straw’) hats can be blown off if user’s lung strength is sufficient. Message on front panel says ‘Come On Boys…Who Blows Best.’ Extremely rare; one of fewer than a handful known. Height: 108in. Estimate: $50,000-$100,000