Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

American, British, French or German? We want to know about it.
jra
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by jra »

Hello,
I wonder if anyone has a copy of a book by Dick Bueschel called The Coin Slot. (I am looking for number 81) Caille /La caille Ben Hur Commercial. If anyone has a copy to sell or could copy it for me please let me know.
Thank you JRA.
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by pennymachines »

Better late than never... The Coin Slot issue 81, November 1981, page 53 is online and has a piece by Nic Costa about the Stiel collection which included Caille's La Caille, a very pretty French marketed 3 way roulette in ornate cast case (circa 1910/11). Searches for 'Caille Commercial' bring up no results in The Coin Slot.

From Lemaitre's Les Machines A Sous
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Streching the truth...

Post by roger »

Topic moved & merged - Site Admin.

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There is an old saying in the world of business..." If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."
NOW LET'S HAVE SOME FUN........Check out the Morphy online catalogue for the end of this month.
Is there one item that seems a bit strange ???
Even a sharp old geezer like myself missed this one until I made a couple of inquires.
ROGER
p.s. I'll give you a hint....If it's circa 1908, I'm 108.
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Re: Streching the truth...

Post by tim575 »

Not much to go on for a clue given how many lots in the auction have stretched the descriptions by so much. Best to more or less ignore descriptions and just go by photos or better yet in person inspections...
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Re: Streching the truth...

Post by roger »

Surely, some forum member will come up with better results... ROGER
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Re: Streching the truth...

Post by pennymachines »

By moving and merging this topic here, I've revealed the answer to Roger's riddle.
He emailed me this link to the Morphy auction lot, and I gave an opinion. But before discussing it, I'll attempt to provide something more definitive from what I've learned over the years on this question of "when is a Caille Ben Hur/Commercial not really a Caille at all?"

The first counter-top colour wheel betting games
Gustav FW Schultze, DN Schall & Co., and Cowper Manufacturing Co. (all Chicago-based) made counter-top spinning wheel games from 1895, 1896 and 1897 respectively. These offered one coin slot with win and lose segments on the discs. Hot on their heels (1897-99) Paupa & Hochriem Co. (also of Chicago) made several variants of the first true counter-top multi-bet games, with five slots allowing bets on all or any of the disc symbols. These include the Alphonso, Columbia, Uncle Sam and Full Deck.

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The popularity of these and their floor-standing counterparts saw companies (whose names we're more familiar with) adding counter-top multi-coin head games to their inventories. Mills Novelty introduced the Owl Junior in 1899 and the Brownie in 1900.

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By the turn of the century, Watling had joined the fray with King Do Do and The Prince.

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Caille Brothers Ben Hur Mk I (from 1908 - 1928)
Caille Brothers entered the field with the very successful Ben Hur in 1908, which remained in production until it was replaced by an improved version in 1928. It had a five slot coin head and a fifty stop wheel. It's rare in the UK, less so in its country of origin: Morphy's have two in their next sale (Lots 3011 & 3012).

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Caille Brothers Ben Hur Mk II (from 1928 - 1932)
Notice Mk II's newly designed coin head and marquee, undecorated casting around the coin window and its square-apertured coin display frame (replacing the circular apertures), and 25 stop wheel. Some of these were manufactured on suitable coinage for the French and British markets.

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The elusive Caille Commercial
So where does the Caille Commercial fit into this timeline? What did the undisputed authority on American slot machine history, Dick Bueschel, say about it? Nothing, as far as I can tell, neither in his many meticulously researched books, nor his magazine articles.

The Museum of the Game does list a Caille Commercial with a surprising production date three years prior to Ben Hur. It references page 49 of Baudot's Arcadia: Slot Machines of Europe and America, which contains the image below beside the description, 'The Commercial, Caille, 1905'. But as we can see, it's actually a Ben Hur, Caille, circa 1928:

Image

A member of the American Coin Op Collector Forum said:
SLOT DYNASTY wrote: The late Dick Bueschel, and I talked at great length about these Foreign versions many years ago. In fact, he found info on mfrs. other than Caille that produced these machines as well. Some of these can be found with different wheel patterns & symbols. To confuse things even more, Caille made a version with a completely different coin head, with a Caille name badge atop, that was called a "Commercial".
That last claim is apparently not Mr Bueschel's and seems unsupported by evidence. I've yet to see a Commercial with the Caille badge. I have seen Mk II Ben Hurs (with and without the Caille marquee) misidentified as Caille Commercials, as in Baudot's book.

So was the Caille Commercial a figment of British collectors' imaginations?
Clearly not. The name was used in British amusement machine industry parlance, as can be seen in these catalogues:

From AMECO's Catalogue
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From Bolland's Amusement Machines Supply Co. Ltd. Catalogue
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The AMECO advert shows what appears to be a re-cased 25 stop (Mk II) Ben Hur under the name, 'Caillie Commercial' (using a common British misspelling of the maker's name).
The Bolland's advert makes no mention of Caille, and specifically states that the Commercial is 'British throughout'.

To make sense of what was going on, we need to consider how trading conditions from the early 1930s to the 1950s impacted the automatics industry in Britain. By the late 1920s the Caille Ben Hur had become relatively expensive ($110 - 120 in the US, depending upon coinage). Operating a straight gambling machine in the UK at this time was risky, so the market was quite limited. A more attractive option would be to buy old stock from the States and recondition it. Converting the Ben Hur Mk I to our old penny would require a new coin head amongst other changes. The Mk II coin head was easier to adapt. It can be seen atop the 'Commercial' in the AMECO advert, minus the Caille marquee. Anti-gambling crackdowns seem to have lessened somewhat in the UK, post WWII, while in America Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was chasing the slot machines out of town. This favoured the export of old gambling machines to the UK. (The Ben Hur had been out of production for 13 years by that time).

So we have a motive for reconditioning, revamping, re-casing, restyling and converting (where necessary) old Ben Hurs to the old penny. Now we need a suspect...

Alfred Clement / Clement & Whales
Belgian expatriate Alfred L Clement fits the bill perfectly. There may have been others, but he was clearly the main man. Paul Braithwaite pieced together his 'commercial' activities from The World's Fair:
Starting in 1922, he operated originally as Clements Machine Co. Ltd. at 127 Log Acre, London WC2, dealing in Caille and Mills machines.
Sometime director of CM Co. Ltd, he offered machine repair services from the Adelphi Club, 19 Buckingham St. Strand.
In 1928 he supervised machine conversions at Premier Automatics Works.
By mid 1932 to late 1939 he was established in a workshop at 1b Mountford Place, Kennington Road, London primarily in production of "Commercial" exclusively for Bolland.
Shortly after that he is partnered with Oliver Whales in Redcar where 'Clement used his special knowledge to convert reel machines'. He had his own enterprise in Redcar called Clem's Automatics, before returning to London in the 1950s.

Putting the pieces together, a probable narrative emerges. As a Caille dealer, Alfred discovered the British demand for 5 way gambling wheel games in the early '20s. He developed the skills and tooling to convert Cailles to the British penny before the 1928 export model came to market. This required making new coin heads, amongst other parts, and supplying spares, which evolved gradually into the full production of an all-British machine. As was the rule, no maker's name was placed on the games, but most likely Bolland hit upon 'Commercial' as a model name. It's not surprising, given their close resemblance to the Cailles, that they became known as 'Caille Commercials'.

During the Whales partnership phase, a distinctive British Greyhound Stadium themed version was produced. This was achieved without too much expense, by casting a new greyhound relief coin head, and printing matching disc and front-glass graphics (helpfully including the 'Clement & Whales Redcar' maker's name).

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Identification Guide
Totally British-made and partially British-made revamps are still being unwittingly, and sometimes wittingly, passed off as Caille Ben Hurs. It's easy to do when there's so much confusion about them. The last Elephant House sale catalogued the machine below as a, "Commercial By Caille Bros. Co. c. 1905, classic roulette machine".

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It should not be hard now to distinguish between an original Caille and a British-converted or entirely British-made machine, even without looking inside.

Coin head:
Despite a superficial similarity, the Caille Ben Hur Mk I coin head castings are quite different, front and back from the British equivalent. The Caille Ben Hur Mk I internal coin chutes casting is inscribed with the CB initials.

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The Ben Hur Mk II coin head looks like this:
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This head can be seen on many British converted and re-cased machines, usually absent the Caille marquee and often absent the knob and associated mechanism which released the inserted coins.

The head on the Ben Hur below, recently advertised on ebay, is seen on many anglicized versions. It seems likely it was the first British penny conversion coin head

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Coin window surround:
Ben Hur Mk I had a fancy surround, at least on the earlier models
Ben Hur Mk II and the British versions had a plain surround.

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The coin framing behind the window is circular on Mk I and square on Mk II. This alone can be used to distinguish between a Caille Mk I or II mechanism. However, it appears that later British made mechanisms revived the more pleasing circular framing.

Payout cup:

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Cabinet:
Ben Hur Mk I & II have solid wood oak cases. The face is made of four pieces diagonally jointed (see images above).
The Commercial and other British versions and conversions usually have softwood cases with a walnut veneer.

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Seeing Double
So finally we can try to apply all this to the Morphy lot, subject of Roger's post.

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Morphy wrote:LOT #3315:
CAILLE DOUBLE COUNTER WHEEL SLOT MACHINE MADE FOR THE ENGLISH MARKET.
C. 1908. Caille Brothers Mfg. Detroit Michigan. This counter wheel machine features two hand painted wheels and coin heads, one showing greyhounds and the other showing scrolling foliage. Front presentation plaque reads "Presented to Walter Chandler for 15 years of outstanding achievements 1916." CONDITION: A very unusual double counter top English Ben Hur Color Wheel slot machine. Light signs of wear, nothing at all that shows the slot machines age. This slot is believed to be the only known example to exist, formerly from the famed Stan Harris collection. Includes keys.
Condition: (Very Good).
Item Dimensions: 12" X 34" X 29"
Coin heads: Post 1930s British castings (the greyhounds one dating to the Clement & Whales late 1940s period).
Coin window surround: Post 1928.
Discs: 25 stop - post 1928.
Payout cups: Mysteriously missing. No fixing holes.
Cabinet: Made with some skill, and in the Caille style, plus some elaboration. As the description says, 'nothing at all that shows the slot machine's age'. The claw feet make no sense on a counter-top Caille, except presumably to give a faux impression of antiquity.
Caille Bros. presentation plaque: Assuming it's genuine, predates the machine.

Verdict: Like P.T. Barnum's mermaid (a monkey sewed to a fish), this rare one-of-a-kind concoction is a fake, made to exploit confusion around these Cailles. It was sold previously at Morphy's in 2016 for $2,812.50. I seem to recall mention at the time of the British dealer responsible for it, but that's hearsay...
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by JC »

Well, having just read all of that Mr P., I can only conclude there's some marathon sleuthing there....
*BOWS*
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by john t peterson »

That's it, Mr. P. You are no longer just web site guru par excellent, you are now a distinguished researcher and author. We all now await with bated breath, your upcoming tome: "Allwins; Origins and Examples, A Delight for the Common Man."

J Peterson
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by arrgee »

Just amazing Mr pm, can't wait to get my hands on a copy of your book
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by gameswat »

Great forensic research PM. One thing I will say about the Walter Chandler presentation plate on the double - it's atrocious! Absolutely amateurish work and there is no way in hell that anybody, let alone the Caille Company, would have ever commissioned that to be placed on a trophy they were handing out.
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by coppinpr »

plus "15 years" what did you get if you were there for 40 years (not unusual in those days to work for one company only) a seat on the board :lol:
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Re: Streching the truth...

Post by gameswat »

pennymachines wrote: Thu Oct 19, 2023 10:56 pm What did the undisputed authority on American slot machine history, Dick Bueschel, say about it? Nothing, as far as I can tell, neither in his many meticulously researched books, nor his magazine articles.
Hey PM, Dick did mention these Brit Caille copies in several Questions to the editor pages in old The Coin Slot mags, as in answering owners queries at to what they had. I just tried searching through the digital versions you recently posted a link to, but no luck strangely? When I get around to looking at the mags again I'll psot up what I can find. Early on in the late 70's and early 80's Dick was totally vague as to what they were. But I know later on he was asking some of the Brit experts and getting good info such as you've shown above.
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by pennymachines »

That's interesting. Yes, I also came up empty searching The Coin Slot online and only have half a dozen print copies. I imagine Freddie Bailey could throw some light on the subject. A clearer picture has emerged over the years, so I tried to nail down as much as I could, but there's still quite a bit of guesswork. I also wondered about the amateurishness of the inscribed plaque. Kind of audacious though to invent and hand craft a fake provenance like that.

Does anyone know why the Mk II had the coin release gizmo on the head? I seem to recall something about complying with US gaming regulations.

Let's throw in two French-built Ben Hur lookalikes from Lemaitre's book:
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by geordy55 »

I bought that bloody awful looking yellow commercial !!
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by pennymachines »

This Greyhounds Stadium?
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I'm sure you can return it to its former glory.

Here's another tall-case British conversion sold by Morphys. The extra space presumably for all those pennies that went to the cashbox.
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by gameswat »

Hey PM, this reply from Dick is actually in the Sept/Oct 1995 issue of Coin-Op Classics. After having just read through over 600 mags I'm getting them confused!

And by the way, I spoke with Greg McLemore about the issues searching his International Arcade Museum e-magazine database. Turns out there is a problem. He got back to me a couple days later and thought it was 90% fixed, but on searching as a test just now it was still the same for me, so might take a little longer to solve.
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by brigham »

Two manufacturers there I haven't heard of!
And Redcar's in my patch, too.
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by pennymachines »

Unfortunately, unlike his books, this piece doesn't include any sources. That's the first I've heard of Ahrens making 'Greyhound Race' and would like to know where that's recorded. I've never seen that name on these games, only 'Greyhound Stadium' (several versions in this topic). Some, if not all, came from Clement & Whales and are usually marked as such. I suspect it's a mix-up, as Ahrens did make a Greyhound Racer - the large two-player competitive game.

I assumed Ol Whatle Ltd. Of Redcar was a misprint of Oliver Whales until it was repeated further down. I'm sure this is a mistake and no such company existed.
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by brigham »

Same for Ol Whartle Ltd...
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Re: Caille / Clement & Whales Countertop disc machines

Post by pennymachines »

Yes, both spellings appear, but he must be referring to Oliver Whales. Unusually, for Mr Bueschel, in this piece he adds to existing confusion.

Whales (or Clement) it seems converted the Whirlo from something, but certainly not the Greyhound Stadium or any other 5 way game. Perhaps that idea came from the 1985 Arcadia Catalogue that erroneously described a Whirlo as a recased Caille Commercial.
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