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: http://musicolajukeboxes.com/
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.
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.
Another electric shock machine found in Australia is the Electro made in neighbouring New Zealand.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are quite a lot more Aussie machines but I’ll write about some more of these in a future contribution.