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willborl
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Firmans

Postby willborl » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:09 pm

Does anyone have any info on this company?

Have heard it mentioned quite a few times regarding bandit conversions. Did they convert for the English market?

Thanks.

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pennymachines
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Re: Firmans

Postby pennymachines » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:01 pm

It seems nobody does have much on them.

From Braithwaite's book we learn that B Firman & Co. operated from Clifton Engineering Works, Curtis Street, Nottingham, distributing other makers' machines in the 1920s before becoming "manufacturing engineers engaged in fruits conversions and rebuilds" by 1931. In 1957, they were called S Firman & Co. (Nottingham) Ltd. and by 1960, Firman was an operator and caterer at Skegness.

They are best known for their bootleg versions of Mills Poinsettia, Roman Head and War Eagle. Notably, these are on old penny play, without jackpots and have decidedly rough cabinet castings (perhaps sand-cast from Mills originals). Presumably, they were made to revamp/rehouse earlier salvaged mechanisms? They also designed and built from scratch the only British bandit in the American style, namely, the Egyptian Bell, Sphinx or All Brit Bell Fruit. Again, I guess they made a cabinet only and fitted it with an American mechanism converted to old penny play. Finally, they made another bandit in a curious, brutal style all of their own which, judging by its rarity, was not a great seller. I believe they also invented a jackpot mechanism for retrofitting on pre-jackpot bandits.

Aside from bandits, Firman produced viewers, some kind of racing game and two rather tinny, metal-cased coin drop skill games: Pushapenny and Pushapenny Three Win with cigarette payout (example currently offered on ebay).
$(KGrHqFHJBME9!!+M!r0BPV5VCW19Q~~60_12.JPG

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treefrog
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Re: Firmans

Postby treefrog » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:47 pm

Interesting, I have a seen a few bandits stated as being Firmans, again as stated often relating to their copying of Mills and other machines, usually with poor or odd casting configurations, eg having the coin slot on the wrong side. There was a machine Poinsettia type machine at the Elephant auction, which even had an "F" in the castings (which did not look a poor quality), but the mechanism was very different, not Mills, Jennings, Buckley etc, so I wonder if they produced their own complete machine as well. Didn't take a picture of the mechanism unfortunately...
firmans.jpg

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pennymachines
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Re: Firmans

Postby pennymachines » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:48 am

tree-frog wrote:I wonder if they produced their own complete machine as well. Didn't take a picture of the mechanism unfortunately...
I assumed they didn't, because it wouldn't be economically viable for a little British outfit to compete with what the American big boys were geared up to mass produce. Also, there was plenty of cheap second-hand stock on the market.

That Poinsettia's front is completely different from the Mills, with its token award and big Firman design double jackpot. I'm also curious to see the mechanism now.

The Egyptian Bells, below, are from Ebay (half Poinsettia), Christies Costa sale and last November's Coventry auction. I don't think any of them had working jackpots.
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egyptianbell2.jpg
egyptianbell.jpg

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pennymachines
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Re: Firmans

Postby pennymachines » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:00 pm

More Firman bandits...

1. Another Egyptian - why do these never seem to have real jackpots, which is what Firman was known for?
2. The "deco-brutalist" bandit - with double jackpot and standard Mills mechanism.
3. Several jackpot fronts (described as Firman revamps of Mills) from Jo van Dongen's Bandieten - all quite different from each other (and different from the Poinsettia revamp posted by tree-frog, above). The first has a patent number above the jackpot (illegible in the picture) and the one to the right of it, strangely, appears to be on 5c coinage.
egyptian-1.jpg
1.
firman-brutal1.jpg
2.
firmans.jpg
3.

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coppinpr
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Re: Firmans

Postby coppinpr » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:29 am

Am I right in thinking this machine on ebay at the moment is a Firmans?

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mills-Egyptia ... 500wt_1413
sphinxsettia.JPG

willborl
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Re: Firmans

Postby willborl » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:14 pm

Thanks for the interesting info gentlemen.

Seems like they created a lot of weird and wonderful bandits out of odd bits from anything they could get hold of.

I quite like the Egyptian version on eBay at the moment, it appears that the Firman's bandits don't achieve as high prices as original Poinsettia's though. Understandable I guess, people prefer original rather than cheaply converted.

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Re: Firmans

Postby silverbitz » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:38 pm

Hi Guys,
Here's another Egyptian Bell I recently renovated. The jackpot isn't just a blanking plate or false storage box but would seem to be active. There are two slide/backing plates with a thumb lip to the tops which would have been manually lifted to drop a jackpot, cleverly leaving a reserve. Must have been a pain for the operator, as the movement had to be removed to drop a win! The inner jackpot casting is screwed in, ie seperate from the bottom casting and has grooves for these plates and a locking device for security. Simple but effective!. I assume there won't be active jackpots for these as so far I've only seen pre jackpot mech's used. Also, I doubt any had escalators as the coin intake etc. doesn't allow. You will notice it's wider than half tops and was probably just keeping up with the latest trends in the early '30s to make it look fresh on otherwise older guts.
Andy
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pennymachines
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Re: Firmans

Postby pennymachines » Wed Mar 14, 2012 2:29 pm

Hi Andy,
Must say, you've done a very nice job on that bandit. The ebay vendor says, "Machine is not fitted with a jackpot, it is a force jackpot just for show" and you say that the jackpot on yours had to be triggered manually by the operator removing the mechanism. That suggests the Sphinx pre-dates the other Firman jackpot fronts.

silverbitz
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Re: Firmans

Postby silverbitz » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:44 pm

I would say so. There seem to be several variations to the jackpot front itself but I assume they are all manually paid out. The machine must have been used in the States mainly using the poinsettia top casting, probably for ease of construction and of course, the gooseneck was already set up for 5c coins etc. The UK casting, set up for the 1d simply shortened the gooseneck which made the machine look fresh/sleek as was the incoming war eagles and castle fronts. Andy


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