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Circle Skill and variants

Postby jimmycowman » Wed Aug 30, 2006 7:55 pm

Hi all, I'm trying to get this Lucky Circle to work but missing some inside bits (the payout). Has anyone got a photo of the inside of one to help me out? It's not like the one in the Carters book - this one doesn't vend.

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Re: Circle Skill and variants

Postby john t peterson » Sun Sep 03, 2006 2:05 am

Jimmy, I don't have this game but looking at your pictures, it appears that a standard allwin payout mechanism might work. You are missing the payout tube and the large vertical arm with attachments that controls the mechanism when a winning shot is made. I cannot see how the ball is released. There is a newer looking metal strip in the middle of the game which might be covering the cut-out for the more traditional ball release "water-wheel" mechanism. If you have any Whales game, take a look at the interior and see if your game does not appear to be identical. By the way, it's a very attractive game and well worth the restoration effort in my opinion. Regards, John Peterson, USA.

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Re: Circle Skill and variants

Postby coin-op » Sun Sep 03, 2006 8:54 am

The ball release mechanism should be inside the back of the machine if it follows the vending version.

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Re: Circle Skill and variants

Postby jimmycowman » Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:31 pm

Thanks for replying - the ball release mech is in the back of the machine and works OK. Some time in its life it's been used on free play (part of the instructions are blanked out on the playfield and the coin payout removed). I can recreate the payout somehow, but I just wanted to see a photo of the inside of one before I start. How rare is this machine? How old is it, does anyone know?

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Re: Circle Skill and variants

Postby daveslot » Sun Sep 03, 2006 10:11 pm

There was one in Hunt's last auction in excellent condition, I have seen several versions of these, a 3 and 4 cup winner, also a profit sharer. The mechs are quite complex, more bits than an allwin. They are pre-war, not that rare. I think the vending version is the most common.
Cheers, Dave.

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Re: Circle Skill and variants

Postby pennymachines » Tue Sep 05, 2006 12:59 pm

Here's a detail of the Circle Profit Sharer payout mech. Not sure it will help much as this 4 cup version with symmetrically placed player controls clearly isn't the same as your machine. Instead of the conventional slide, a claw pushes two coins from the bottom of the hopper. The lower, smaller hopper is the profit-sharer which releases its contents when the platform below it swings out of the way. An arrangement of ratchet, cog and levers (hidden by tinwork) release it every 20th win.

Hopefully your version had a simpler mechanism, otherwise you have quite a job on your hands. The ball feed on the Circle Profit Sharer is also more complex than an allwin. It uses a vertical tube stacked with balls alla Payramid.

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Wall vending machine with rotating pins

Postby Neil » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:02 pm

(Circle Skill topic merged - Site Admin.)

A customer of mine has this neat wall vending machine on old one penny.

Any ideas on manufacturer or age?

I am presuming that if you were successful in rotating the pins to get the ball into one of the cups you won the corresponding cigs or other item behind the 3 glass sections at lower case?

Many thanks, Neil.
wallvendor.JPG compressed.JPG
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Circle Skill

Postby JC » Thu Jan 18, 2007 5:54 pm

Hello Neil

You have there what is commonly known as a 'Circle Skill' machine. They were manufactured in Germany during the 1920s and 30s. There are several different variations of this machine, and you have the most common. Yours pays out cigarettes, but the rarer version returns the player's coin. There are also versions which have four ball cups, rather than three.
You are quite right in your assumption that the idea of the game is to guide the ball through the pinned disc, into one of the three cups. The corresponding drawer is then released, in order that the player may obtain his prize.
Hope this has helped


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Re: Circle Skill and variants

Postby Neil » Sat Jan 20, 2007 10:29 pm

Thanks, Jerry.

Firstly many thanks for the prompt response.

Were there many different manufacturers?

Or would it have been made by say either manufacturer X or Y?

Just trying to pin down the manufacturer for my customer's own interest.

Finally, I have been interested in coin-op items for about 20 years, mostly slots and whilst I have seen many many many allwin type machines, I had never seen a single machine like this before - so are these rare or still quite common? I am keen to add one to my small collection. Is it more likely I would locate another in continental Europe rather than in the UK?

Any help/info appreciated.

Kind regards, Neil.

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Re: Circle Skill and variants

Postby pennymachines » Tue Jan 23, 2007 5:58 pm

Hi Neil,

Recently I mentioned to Jerry that I thought the Circle Skill was made in my home city of Birmingham. Re-reading Nic Costa's World's Fair articles reminded me where I got this idea. The game was invented by William Thompson's Coin Operating Company and manufactured at their Gothic Arcade premises in Snow Hill, Birmingham from the mid 1920s. They launched a coin and cigarette payout version: the Circle Skill Bonanza and the Circle Cigarette machine. The Circle Skill Bonanza was a development of the company's Bonanza Jackpot. Basically they just replaced a fixed pinfield with a rotatable pinned disk. At some stage during its production it was modified into the Circle Skill Profit Sharer. Maybe this happened after the Coin Operating Company became insolvent in 1932. They reformed later in the year in the new Phoenix Works premises in Claybrook Street, possibly trading under name of the Phoenix Manufacturing Company. This is the attribution given to both the Circle Skill and Circle Cigarette in the Costa-Haskell Collection catalogue. The company closed for good in 1936, a few years before William Thompson's death.

Although they claim to have filed provisional patent 24137 on the Circle Skill Bonanza, I've been unable as yet to find a patent on the machine.

Perhaps this is why Martin Botticher's Automatix includes German versions made from 1929 to 1952. Although Martin's book is a fairly exhaustive catalogue of German payout machines, significantly, it doesn't include the three types of Circle Skill familiar over here. Nevertheless, jimmycowman's Lucky Circle (above) does have many hallmarks of a German wall machine.

So to answer your questions - the Cigarette Circle Skill was made by the Coin Operating Company or Phoenix Manufacturing Company of Birmingham, probably in the 1930s. It is not a very rare machine although its generic type is much rarer than the allwin type. Obviously, you're more likely to find one here than elsewhere in Europe (although some will have found their way to Holland, Belgium and America). With a bit of patience you should be able to track one down.
Balance Automat
Jentzsch & Meerz
Germany, 1930
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German, 1930s
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Duplex Magnet
Germany, 1952
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Germany, 1932
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Germany, 1929
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Lucky Circle
Germany or Britain? 1930s
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Circle Skill Profit Sharer
Phoenix Manufacturing Company
Birmingham, UK, 1930s
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Circle Skill Bonanza
Coin Operating Company
Birmingham, UK, 1920s
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Last edited by pennymachines on Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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