Vintage Slot Machines
This web site is devoted to those glorious vintage slot machines in the seaside penny arcades of the 40s, 50s and 60s. Most of these amusement machines were purely mechanical in operation. You would put your penny in the slot, and either pull a handle, or shoot a ball around a track, in the hope of winning more pennies to put in more slot machines. The object was not monetary gain, as you knew that you would eventually put all the pennies back in the slot machines. The object was to stay in the arcade playing on the machines for as long as possible before the pennies ran out! In those days, a £1 note would buy you 240 extremely large pennies, which could barely be carried in two trouser pockets, and would sometimes keep you playing on the machines for days!
For many, the fascination of these machines was not in the thrill of the winning; but in the operation of the machine itself with its various, and often ingenious, mechanical functions. Most vintage slot machine enthusiasts have no interest in today's arcades, full of electronic machines where you just stand in front of a video screen and press buttons. Consequently, those old mechanical slot machines have now become highly collectable.
This web site concentrates mainly on the machines that could be found in British arcades. These differed markedly from the type found in America, due to the different legislation in these countries. British machines were usually 'Amusement' machines, whilst the majority of American machines were 'Gambling' machines. What's the difference? Well, to put it simply, Gambling Machines are games of chance, whereas Amusement machines are games of skill.
According to British law up until 1960, a machine had to involve an element of skill if it paid out a reward. Consequently British machines took the form of games of skill (such as ball games, cranes, shooting games, etc.) or non-payout types (such as fortune tellers, viewers, juke boxes, working models, pintables, etc.).
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Last update: 5th February 2020
Click on the links below to see examples of these vintage slot machines. Also see my other web site devoted to the machines of W. E. Bryan of Kegworth, Derbyshire - the inventive genius of the British slot machine industry.
|B.M.Co. Automatic Payout Allwins **NEW**|
|Drop Case Machines|
|The BRYANS Penny Arcade|
I am always interested in hearing from fellow British collectors, particularly if you can supply any additional information for these pages, or photographs of interesting slot machines.
This is a site about British slot machines. Please do not email me with questions about American slot machines. I don't know anything about them!