RE: We all need to act now

General vintage slot machine related topics.
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neo
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RE: We all need to act now

Post by neo »

HI all,

Not really sure where to stick this post (im sure some suggestions will arrive shortly!) so it's going here, til it gets moved/deleted/edited etc.

Just read through Badpennys post in the announcements section, and have a few ideas as to why things may not be going as planned/expected on the auction/ new collectors front.

As a complete newbie myself, i think the part that has me most interested is getting an old shitter of a machine and bringing it back to some sort of working model. Everything i have seen for sale so far, seems to have been completely refurbed and ready for work!
It may be just me, but don't people want something that they can put their own touch into rather than buying something that someone else has already done?
Maybe there aren't any 'virtually knackered' machines left out there??

It's a bit like restoring an old car. You want a heap of rust which costs next to nothing, and spend £20k and 15 years of knuckle scraping turning it back to it's former glory rather than paying for one that someone has already done.

Maybe this is why there aren't many newbies on the scene / machines selling?

Thoughts/suggestions/donations welcomed!
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pennymachines
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Re: RE: We all need to act now

Post by pennymachines »

Hi Dan,
A beautifully restored machine will of course be very saleable and is likely to fetch a premium at auction. An unrestored but immaculate original one is the rarest and most desirable type and should in theory fetch more (but doesn't always do so). A poorly restored machine, on the other hand, may be worth less to the serious collector than a junker because it has been "got at". Original features will be undetectable because they've been permanently erased or damaged and the vendor will expect you to pay for handiwork that must be remedied and redone.

It is in the nature of our hobby that there are now many machines in this category. Enthusiasts have been collecting and "fixing up" mechanical slots for decades and few if any of us have the skills, time or resources of professional museum conservators. Besides, for many, restoring is more fun than collecting. However many thousands have survived and I bet unrestored ones are still in the majority (they certainly are in my shed!).
Maybe there aren't any 'virtually knackered' machines left out there??
I'm guessing you haven't been to a major slot machine auction yet. There really are loads ranging from "useful for spares only" to "a bit tired". The problem at present is the dearth of auctions. This is more about current prices than shortage of machines. In theory it would be easy to fill an auction with 400 scrappy machines, but it wouldn't be financially viable for the saleroom and vendors don't wish to sell virtually knackered machines for peanuts if they paid good money for them only a few years ago.
myford
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Re: RE: We all need to act now

Post by myford »

I have to say I'm with Neo on this. As a Hobby I have spent all my adult life restoring old machinery, stationary engines to steam roller! Generally with most old machinery (with a few exceptions) the aim is to restore them to factory fresh, Vintage cars are an example, you don't see many of those with chipped/faded/rusty paint & worn out chrome, why should a slot machine be any different. There is always the argument that they should be looked upon in the same way as antique furniture, best left unrestored.
I guess I am mainly talking about bandits here, an unrestored bandit looks godawful, but restored they look a gleaming work of art. So call me a heathen or a vandal but I love restoring old machines,
(even if someone else thinks I've made a hash of it) I would not dream of buying a machine that did not need work. I know one mans meat........!
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Myford
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pennymachines
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Re: RE: We all need to act now

Post by pennymachines »

Hi Myford,

Yes, slot machines, especially metal cased ones have much in common with vintage cars and other machines that are (or were) primarily functional and subject to the ravages of use, abuse and the British weather. Inevitably their restoration involves replacing and remaking worn-out parts. But as indoor items, slot machines also have something in common with fine furniture.

A few years ago I visited the National Motorcycle Museum (before the disastrous 2003 conflagration) and admired the hundreds of beautifully restored bikes. I remember one had miraculously survived the ages without any major work. The original bodywork was muted, dulled and crazed with a fine pattern like an old oil painting. Objects that have only been altered by natural ageing processes are inherently more beguiling to look at. When you view a restored machine, you appreciate the form and design but you're actually looking at a modern surface, be it new chrome, paint or varnish.

When I started collecting I was very keen to re-chrome dull or worn metalwork because I loved the way it came up all sparkling and new. After a while it occurred to me I was robbing some machines of the "charisma of age" - something which can never be replaced. Now I'm more inclined to save money with some judicious cleaning and polishing instead. Besides, re-plating always involves a strip and polish which actually removes some of the original metal. Not to mention the very real risk of losing the whole part at the platers!

It's true though that most of the machines we find would benefit from some sympathetic restoration and many require a top to bottom rebuild (like the motorcycles after the fire!) It really is just a matter of degree and curbing the urge to "improve" just because you can. I agree entirely that many an ugly junker cries out for the full works.
neo
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Re: RE: We all need to act now

Post by neo »

PennyMachines wrote:
The problem at present is the dearth of auctions.
You'd think they would be popping up all over ebay if that were the case. Gotta be less hassle sticking them online, than taking them to an auction which may be hundreds of miles away only for them not to sell?

Is it more to do with people wanting to sell to the 'right' people? :-?
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arrgee
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Re: RE: We all need to act now

Post by arrgee »

Neo wrote
Is it more to do with people wanting to sell to the 'right' people?
I don't think so. The cost of machines have always been a thorny issue, a few years ago people were moaning because prices were too high, today people moan because they are too low and therefore are reluctant to sell. Seldom there is as happy medium.

With regard to live auctions, yes the prices are seemingly low, but compared to what? the same machine today would probably have cost more at live auction a few years back but I have been looking at machines on ebay recently and quite a few of those machines have sold for prices that were current a few years ago.

A Wonders Pools (without the cash door) machine sold for £510, a Patsy Fun Fair for £515 and a Ski jump for £692, a standard saxony allwin in average to good condition sold for £701 !! . I would guess that if these machines came up at a live auction they would not fetch anywhere near these prices, unless of course those collectors who bid on line, were at the auction.

My belief is there are still people out there that are more than prepared to pay for machines, but would rather sit back in the comfort of their own homes and bid. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this it's just a pity that they don't come to the live auctions. After all its not just the auction that is available, but also a wealth of information from some very knowledgeable collectors, not to mention the many numerous spare parts for sale.
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JC
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Re: RE: We all need to act now

Post by JC »

Arrgee, there is a misconseption that machines sell for high prices on ebay, but I do not believe it is generally so. It's interesting that you've quoted prices for three Wonders machines. For as long as I can remember, Wonders have been sought after, and I don't think these prices are particularly remarkable. The Wonders Pools didn't actually sell at £510 - it was relisted, and sold for £412. As for the Ski Jump at £692, this is a very rare machine (at least, the only one I've seen), and I know several Wonders enthusiasts who would no doubt have bid up to this amount, and maybe more, at live auction. As for the Saxony allwin, I don't remember seeing that, so I can't comment, but there are of course occasional flukes where two or more novices who don't know what they're bidding on will result in a machine selling for silly money.

But let's consider a few other recent ebay sales:
Bryans U Win - £621.
Earth Satellite - £470 (£30 less than I paid for one 10 years ago).
Fill em Up - £365
All of these machines appeared to be in nice condition and in working order, and sold for less than I would have expected at live auction a few years ago.

And don't be fooled by everything you see on ebay. I know of several machines which didn't actually sell for the final prices. There are a number of 'so called collectors' who will regularly 'bid up' a machine, and then sell at a lower price outside of ebay (a deplorable practice which has been aided by ebay's own secret bidding policy).

Like it or not, prices have fallen - which may or may not be a good thing. Only time will tell.
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operator bell
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Re: RE: We all need to act now

Post by operator bell »

I love live auctions - I go to all that I can, even though I'm not wealthy enough to compete with the serious collectors so I seldom buy anything. If I lived in England I'd be a regular, and I would be able to afford stuff. I wish I'd been at Bonhams to pick up some of those juicy bargains.

Ebay (American Ebay anyway) prices are on the low side and falling. There are some kinds of machines that come up so regularly they've established a price point - you see about $400 for a Mills Vest Pocket and $1000 for a Hitop, over and over again, but either of those will fetch double at a live auction. Less common machines do much better, but often don't get a bid the first or second times out. Over the past few months I've seen many of the lots at the last VCA auction show up on Ebay (like 260244003822, for example) and not fetch more than about 80% of the live price. There's a hunting-front Jennings currently at $1300, though three were sold at VCA in the $3000 to $5000 range. Then again, I know one bandit (the walking kind) who bought an old sixpence Hitop at VCA for $300, split it, and sold the case and mech separately for $350 each piece ($700 in all). He couldn't sell it as one piece because it didn't work after he removed the escalator - the only bit he really wanted.
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