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Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby bob » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:01 am

It’s most gratifying that my contributions here are appreciated. Thanks Speedwell, Bryans Fan and others in the past. I can’t write a weekly column but will try to contribute more often. Thanks also to Mr Pennymachines for actually doing a “Wineasies From Down Under” item on this site.
Consequently I’ve assembled a collection of other Aussie machines that might be of interest to people here.

A lot of these coin op machines are vending machines that I managed to collect. Most of these I searched and found the patent for, occasionally the patent details were on the machine. Some machines may have been made in England and used there as well as in Australia, sometimes they may have been made in the UK or US especially for use in Australia with Australian products. Some are one-offs or made in small and occasionally large quantities by an operator for his own use, sometimes they are original mechanism and cabinet designs, sometimes straight out copies. Examples of the copied type of machine were made after World War 2 when there were restrictions on the import of non essential/luxury items and copies of American juke boxes were made by operators who wanted juke boxes at a time when they were most popular and profitable but not available to import. A great deal of research on this area was carried out by the late “Frog” who created a website that still exists on the internet that provides a lot of information on the Australian “Musicola” jukeboxes and also mentions the Australian copies of the Wurlitzer 600 and Model S jukeboxes. The Australian manufacturer actually called itself the Wurlitzer Phonograph Company of Australia Pty Ltd without any authorisation from the American Wurlitzer Company which took the Australian manufacturer to court, but lost the case as the Australian company did not have the extended crossbar on the “t”.

The link to the Musicola site is:
Some of the Australian made machines date from the earliest days of coin op machines and of course some of the latest bandits now go all over the world from Australia, although in earlier times coin op machines made in Australia were made for use exclusively in Australia and perhaps New Zealand.

Sharp's Shock Machine 2.JPG
Sharp's Shock Machine 1.JPG
Sharp's Shock Machine .JPG
I’ll start with a couple of Australian shock machines. As is often the case with Aussie machines there is no manufacturer’s name on the machine and it is impossible to trace the date of manufacture or any history of the company making them. Such is the case with the floor standing machine headed with the sign “A Shocking Experience” of I have come across a number of examples. I would guess its date of manufacture being in the nineteen thirties or forties probably in Melbourne or Sydney. Another Australian shock machine has been discovered this year by Norm Sharp who founded and used to operate “Sharp’s Magic Movie House and Penny Arcade Museum” in the Victorian country town of Echuca. Norm went on a buying trip to the United States in before opening his Museum in 1988 and I put old penny coin slides on these machines and also had some of my machines on loan in his Museum. The machine that Norm turned up was originally operated on the New South Wales town of Maclean in aid of the local hospital. It is a very early machine dating from 1897 and has full details of the manufacturer on the printed label on the front of the machine. The mechanism is rather primitive but still works and is attached to the front of the cabinet. It can be lifted up and out due to the cabinet’s tongue and groove construction, a rather neat solution to the problem of repair and maintenance.

I have come across a number of examples of the Australian made “A Shocking Experience” although the machine has a name, no manufacturer is stated on the machine, a not uncommon occurrence with Australian machines.

aussie shocker.JPG
Another electric shock machine found in Australia is the Electro made in neighbouring New Zealand.

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Other Electric shock machines operated here include the Detroit Medical Battery, commonly thought to be British but actually American. These would very likely to have come here via its British Distributor with a mechanism, sign and coin entry made for a British/Australian copper penny coin. Other electric shock machines found in Australia are Mills floor standing and countertop models and British countertop or wall models.

Another Australian machine is the Ja Jo countertop Puncher, a uniquely Australian small countertop strength testing machine. I found the Australian patent for this which was granted in 1934 although strangely, the label on the machine gives the unlikely and incorrect wartime patent date of 1944. I only ever came across one of these in my collecting but recently DD’sToys, a contributor to this site, has come across a few of them surviving together till now together.

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A larger Australian strength tester is the Durkin Punching bag machine. This is an Australian machine similar to the Mills and Mutoscope punching bag machines with a similar mechanism. It was made in the 1920’s by Durkin Engineering Company who provided equipment for showmen. The family is still prominent in the Agricultural Show business in Australia and have rides at various Australian shows including chairlifts etc.

Durkin Punching Bag041.jpg
Some Australian made fortune tellers were made for outdoor use by showmen and use the long established mechanism of a cup holding the coin, the weight of which dropping engages a segment of a gear with a gear on a spinning pointer. These machines were on location at Sharp’s Penny Arcade for some years.

Gypsy Fortuneteller Floorstanding No 18.jpg
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Another Australian strength tester is the Handy Grip Test which is a copy of a machine made by both Caille in the US and also a German manufacturer. The same company, a coin op machine operator in Sandgate, a seaside suburb near Brisbane Queensland, also manufactured a coin operated rifle on a stand.

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Another Australian coin op is a copy of a Salter weighing machine. I have the Australian design patent No 7585 of 1929 for this by Robert Burke who manufactured and retailed catering equipment in Melbourne and was still in business in Melbourne 50 years later when I started collecting. It is identical to a Salter scale except for the cash box bulge in the column.

Burke Scale.jpg
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Some Australian machines are quite likely one offs. In this category would be the Sydney Luna Park workshop made Cleopatra machine which was sold at the Luna Park auction sale and has been in the Echuca Penny Arcade museum for some years. The player holds a bar whilst the machine takes a reading of his or her electric “conductivity” somewhat like a lie detector does.

Cleopatra Machine Sydney Luna Park039.jpg
Another machine that has Luna Park connections is the Bomb a Tank which has a moving plane dropping the penny with the player trying to land it on the tank. If you succeed you get your penny bank. Unusual in that there is no access to the machines mechanism only to the cash box, the machine’s mechanism was built, then a floor standing cabinet around it, with no provision for any maintenance or repair.

Bomb a Tank588.jpg
There are quite a lot more Aussie machines but I’ll write about some more of these in a future contribution.
Last edited by bob on Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bryans fan
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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby bryans fan » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:29 am

As usual a fascinating read, thank you Bob.

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special when lit
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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby special when lit » Fri Jun 08, 2018 1:17 pm

Great read.

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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby 13rebel » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:19 pm

As always,interesting and well written,thanks Bob.

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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby ddstoys » Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:35 am

Always a great read bob your contributions are always first class.

So many great Aussie machines out there.
I have an Aussie built Bryan’s clock that I purchased from gameswat built around an imported mech and a ply cabinet. I also have one of the rifle stand games as well.

Also a few other Aussie built games but I’ll wait and see what treasures bob pulls from his archives first.

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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby treefrog » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:28 am

Where are all those lovely rare Aussie bandits I want in my collection :D

Good read

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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby bob » Sat Jun 09, 2018 2:07 pm

I am afraid that readers here such as Treefrog are going to be deeply disappointed if they are hoping for extensive coverage of Australian poker machines here made by Aristocrat or Jubilee. They would all know far, far more than I do about such machines. I have never collected these I'm afraid, for a number of reasons.
For a start they have been highly illegal to possess during the whole period of my collecting. It is possible to get a permit to own a limited number of "antique" machines but this is difficult to obtain and to my knowledge only two were ever issued. One to Norm Sharp when he owned an antique Penny Arcade and one to a Melbourne collector who has contributed here. Another reason is that most Aristocrat machines available here are more recent than the coin op machines I was interested in.

Sadly most of the interesting older American machines from the '20s and '30s were sent back to the US by the container load many, many years ago by the man in charge of the service department at Ainsworth Industries. He realised many, many years ago, the value of these old machines in the collectible market in the United States and was able to obtain them very cheaply as trade-ins from clubs that ran poker machines who were buying new machines and still had old American pre war machines in their sheds.

I have of course repaired and restored such machines for other people and am familiar with their mechanisms. My own collection of Australian poker machines consisted of an APEX early Australian poker machine that my son found the workmen at the factory next to where he was working had been using in their lunch break. He offered them $20 for it in 1982, they were sick of playing it, and another machine was added to my collection.

Apex Bell.jpg
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In 1984 I came across an old retired penny arcade operator who had nothing left but a few parts. I asked if he had any machines and he said: "no not really except an old pokie that the kids used to play with, but you wouldn't want that". I offered him $25 and that's how I got my Mills Keeney jackpot conversion front gooseneck poker machine.

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The following year, in exchange for two of them, I restored 12 Little Duke poker machines that were not working and in a terrible state as they had been left in storage for decades in an attic by an operator. He realised that they were now becoming valuable to collectors. I enjoyed restoring the first six as they all had different problems to overcome. Restoring the second lot was very boring and tedious as I by then I really knew a lot about Little Dukes. These were all the poker machines that were ever in my collection, although I have of course restored and repaired quite few others.
Little Duke.jpg
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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby john t peterson » Sat Jun 09, 2018 11:36 pm

Will you please move to Tennessee and be my newest best friend? I've given up on Gameswat.

J Peterson
Lonesome in America. !!PLEASE!!

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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby treefrog » Sun Jun 10, 2018 7:35 am

Thanks Bob, I love the award plate on that Apex machine, I don’t think you could fit another poker symbol on it.....

I don’t recall it being conclusively discussed on the forum before, but never fully understood how Australia ended up with cards symbols, US fruit and U.K. certainly earlier machines were numbers....... Pokers are my favourites, if not the most difficult to read.

Keep on posting, all we need is some more of the more experienced collectors U.K., US and other locales doing the same. !!THUMBSX2!!

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Re: Australian Manufactured Coin Op Machines

Postby bob » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:25 pm

As Treefrog states early Australian made poker machines had playing card symbols. I have checked all my photos of Apex, Aristocrat Clubman and Clubmaster and various early models of Silver Jubilee machines and they invariably had poker playing card symbols. Why these were chosen is not really known but it does seem likely that Australian club poker machine players readily understood these symbols and their values and therefore preferred them to any other kind.

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