Bob Levy Coin-Op, Adv. & Toys – 10AM
Just about anyone who collects antique gambling or coin-op machines knew the late Bob Levy. He was such a presence in his field of expertise that he became known throughout the world as simply “the slot machine guy.” On Sept. 3rd, more than 200 coin-op enthusiasts gathered at Dan Morphy’s auction gallery an hour northwest of Philadelphia to bid on the treasured private collection Levy had amassed over a lifetime.
Review Full Prices Realized
The Levy selection was offered on day two of Morphy’s Sept. 2-3 sale, together with neon signs, mechanical banks and antique advertising. The grand total for the two-day event was $1,836,000, inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium.
“The sale was a huge success. Our new auction room was bursting at the seams, and we even had to bring in additional chairs to accommodate the overflow,” said Morphy’s CEO Dan Morphy.
A Pennsylvania newspaper columnist, Gene Friedman, also commented on the strong attendance, noting, “I never saw the place so full, and that includes the parking area.”
The Levy session ran five hours and kept attendees riveted to their seats. “Many of the coin op people had never before set foot in our gallery. I found it amazing that they stayed till every last machine was sold. It was a landmark event for the hobby,” Morphy said.
Dr. John Morphy, who is head of Acquisitions & Appraisals for his son’s auction company, observed: “Many of the successful buyers had been to Bob Levy’s home in the past and tried to buy machines from his collection, but of course they weren’t for sale. At the auction, the machines sold for tremendous prices.”
Among those in attendance were members of the Levy family, who remained through the entire second session. “They were very pleased with the results and wanted to express their thanks to our team,” said Dan Morphy.
The top-selling machine – and top lot of the sale – was a Superior 5-cent Horse Race slot machine. Considered one of Levy’s supreme acquisitions, the gold-medal-winning machine also dispensed confections, which could be viewed through glass windows on the front panel. Estimated at $20,000-$25,000, it crossed the finish line at $36,000.
One of the most ornate of all cast-iron poker machines, a Mills Little Duke poker machine was in working order and retained its original marquee and playing-card reel strips. Against an $8,000-$12,000 estimate, it cashed out at $32,400.
A magnificent Caille Centaur upright slot machine with carved oak cabinet on cabriole legs handily exceeded its estimate, selling for $24,000; while a Mills 5-cent Dewey upright slot machine with original reverse-on-glass façade earned an above-estimate $21,000. Highly sought after by collectors, a Buckley “Bones” 25-cent dice slot machine enjoyed a hefty payday, selling for $19,200.
The Levy collection included several sports-related vending machines. A Jennings wood-cased 25-cent slot machine that paid off in golf balls well surpassed its $4,000-$6,000 estimate to land a winning bid of $14,400.
Occupational shaving mugs from the 19th and early 20th centuries continued their winning streak as a favorite category in Morphy sales. Among the big winners in the 150 lots auctioned were a mug depicting three basketball players in action near a net and backboard, and an example emblazoned with the image of a street sweeper in snow-white uniform and black knee-high boots. Each achieved $12,600. A mug with a color illustration of a covered “Provisions” delivery truck with driver garnered $7,800.
A fine assortment of soft drink advertising items included a 1950 Coca-Cola double-sided figural sign replicating a school crossing guard. It sold within estimate for $5,400; while a mirrored-glass restaurant menu board advertising 5-cent Orange Crush nearly doubled its high estimate at $4,200.
A beautiful array of cast-iron mechanical banks closed out the 1,521-lot sale. Leading the group was a Kyser & Rex Uncle Remus bank in near-mint-plus condition. One of the most popular of all mechanical banks with an African-American theme, it soared past its estimate of $14,000-$16,000 to close at $32,400.
Two dozen figural cast-iron doorstops and bookend sets were entered in the sale. A striking 12-inch Uncle Sam in red, white and blue attire earned a salute, finishing at $11,400 against an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
“We were thrilled that so many new bidders attended the auction,” Dan Morphy said. “In particular, many of the coin op collectors told us they were blown away by the results and that they were very impressed by the way our team handled the sale.”
“I’m sure that Bob Levy, who established our Coin Op and Gambling Machine division, would have been very happy to know that his personal collection generated so much excitement amongst fellow collectors,” Morphy continued. “Bob had a very generous spirit. He also would have been pleased that the auction of his machines brought greater exposure to Morphy’s within the collecting field he was so instrumental in developing.”
Morphy’s to auction premier Bob Levy collection of antique, vintage coin-op machines in Sept. 2-3 sale
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On Sept. 3, 2011, Morphy’s will be transformed into an arcade of color and sound as the central Pennsylvania company auctions the late Bob Levy’s revered personal collection of gambling and coin-op
machines. The painstakingly amassed collection of 400 antique and vintage machines will be offered unpicked and in its entirety during the second session of Morphy’s Sept. 2-3 Coin Op, Antique Advertising and General Store sale.
Bob Levy was a renowned expert on coin-ops who bought and sold only the rarest and best examples. For many years he based his antiques business “The Unique One” in a Pennsauken, N.J., showroom, but his clientele was a global one. He was a fountainhead of coin-op knowledge and such a presence in the hobby that collectors far and wide referred to him as simply “the slot machine guy.” In October of 2009, Levy joined the Morphy Auctions team to head a new department for antique gambling and coin-op machines. “When Bob passed away in February, we were honored to learn that, in his estate planning, Bob had entrusted us to auction his collection of prized machines, which he called his ‘keepers,’” said Morphy’s CEO Dan Morphy.
Perhaps the most important piece in the collection is the Superior 5-Cent Horse Race
slot machine described in the catalog as “the best of the best.” One of the most coveted machines in coin-op collecting, it has a confection-vending feature and gold medal designation, and carries an estimate of $20,000-$25,000.
A Caille Centaur
upright slot machine, 65 inches tall with black-oxidized, finished cast-iron trim, is expected to make $16,000-$20,000; while a Mills 5-Cent Dewey
upright slot in all-original condition with earlier paneled oak cabinet is estimated at $14,000-$18,000.
The decorative details on the Mills 2-Bit Jackpot Dewey
coin-op machine make this particular model very special. It has extra-fancy castings that include lion heads on its legs, owls on its handles, dogs on its façade and figural ladies on its head. The 65-inch-tall machine commands an estimate of $12,000-$16,000.
A Mills floor model Black Beauty $1 machine could realize $3,000-$5,000. “It is unusual to find a factory Mills $1 machine that has a ‘hand-load’ jackpot, as this one does,” said Morphy.
The Bally Reliance 5-Cent
dice machine has a clever design that allows the user to play craps. The payout machine boasts various awards. Although a complex machine, the Levy example is in fully functional condition and is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.
Beautifully restored, a Buckley Bones 25-Cent dice slot machine is similar in concept to the Bally Reliance and is also very appealing to collectors. In working order, the Buckley Bones could fetch in the vicinity of $8,000-$10,000.
Perhaps one of the greatest and most ornate of all cast-iron poker machines, the Mills Little Duke
machine is noteworthy for its intricate castings, even on the rear door. The example in the Levy collection retains its original marquee and reel strips – always a plus. Estimate: $8,000-$10,000.
Seldom found in excellent working order, a wooden Jennings golf ball
vending machine operates with 25-cent coins. This particular model was installed primarily in country clubs, where golfers could try their luck at winning a pay-off in golf balls. It could make $3,000-$5,000 at auction. A counter-top golf ball vending machine from Jennings is in excellent condition and estimated at $3,500-$5,500. Yet another golf ball vendor is the Mills floor model “Extraordinary” slot machine with motor-driven dispenser. Fully functional and in excellent condition, it has a $6,000-$8,000 estimate.
Carrying on the sports theme, a Mills 5-Cent Baseball slot machine is complete with its original marquee, reel strips and mint rolls. Estimate: $4,000-$6,000.
An ever-popular Baker’s Pacers Racers
horse race machine has a beveled glass panel that allows viewing of the internal mechanism. It could bring $4,000-$6,000. Made by Bally, a Ray’s Race Track gambling machine is also estimated at $4,000-$6,000.
The Friday, Sept. 2 session features more than 150 antique occupational shaving mugs
, including a rare example depicting a steam-powered railway shovel
, estimated at $2,500-$3,500; as well as 350 lots of soft drink advertising. Of those lots, 170 pertain specifically to Coca-Cola. Highlights include a 1908 serving tray
with the image of an ethereal semi-nude woman holding a bottle of Coke ($4,000-$7,000) and a 1923 cardboard trolley sign with images of a young woman holding a glass of Coke and dressed for each of the four seasons
Additional advertising items include a Rough Riders
cigar box featuring an image of Teddy Roosevelt leading a charge, presumably up San Juan Hill ($1,500-$3,000), a 1940s Eastside neon sign
with eagle motif ($1,500-$2,000) and a beautifully illustrated 1923 Orange Crush calendar
with full calendar pad.
Questions about this auction?
Please contact: Mike Landis