badpenny wrote: ↑
Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:15 pm
I get fearful when I see the likes of a War Eagle or Castle Front with a pay out on single cherry
As well you might! Of course machines can have their payouts altered, and not only by misguided collectors. When single-cherry payouts became fashionable, or, for that matter, when paying out 18 coins for three bars on any of the three visible lines - like on the Buckley Criss-Cross and then the Jennings Tic-Tac-Toe - became fashionable, a Mills War Eagle silent bell could have had its payouts and reel strips altered while in actual service.
So to determine when certain payout schemes began appearing, the place to look would be the pages of publications like Billboard and Automatic Age magazine.
In fact, that's where I've recently been hunting to see if there's any evidence that any manufacturer (or even any company doing revamps) had single-cherry payout before the United States entered World War II. And also to find out who originated single-cherry payout. I had originally thought (from a superficial impression, rather than actual evidence) it was Jennings and not Mills, but it appears I was wrong about that. But the earliest Mills machines with a payout on a single cherry still did not have cherries on the third reel, so the transition to the modern form of single-cherry payout was complicated, having taken place in two steps, it seems.
I've just now done some additional searching. A payout on a cherry on the first reel seems to have been introduced in 1939, on the Mills Diamond Front. This was a revamp based on a Mills mechanism, so the innovation came from a third-party company, not Mills. And some Jennings machines in 1946 offered a payout on three cherries and two cherries and a bar, so the modern form of the single-cherry payout apparently was introduced by Jennings.