An overflow crowd gathered at Morphy Auctions gallery on March 17, 2012 to bid on selections from the late Frank Zygmunt Sr.s personal collection of antique slot, coin-op, gambling and mechanical music machines. The 415-lot auction, which also included early Coca-Cola items and other types of antique advertising, grossed $942,000 (all prices quoted inclusive of 20% buyers premium).
Zygmunt, a Chicago-area dealer and collector who founded the antique slot machine and jukebox business known as Zygmunt & Associates 25 years ago, was a prominent figure in coin-op circles. For his personal collection, he favored rarities like a Caille nickel-finish double upright oak-cased slot machine, whose design combines 5-cent Eclipse and 25-cent Centaur models. Entered in the sale with an $80,000-$120,000 estimate, the lot that Morphys had predicted would finish in first place lived up to its expectations, garnering $114,000.
Two machines tied for the second-place position: an extremely rare Mills 50-cent Chicago jackpot upright slot machine designed for the 1900 Paris Worlds Fair, and a Mills 5-cent Cricket gambling machine believed to be the first of its type ever offered at auction. Both machines surpassed their presale estimates to settle at $66,000, respectively.
A 1937 Rock-ola World Series baseball coin-op game housed in a beautiful Art Deco-style wood console case with glass top over the playing field attracted crossover interest from sports memorabilia enthusiasts. It scored an estimate-topping price of $31,200.
A wood-encased Bakers Pacers horseracing game with seven racing lanes and jockeys on mounts was a good bet at auction. It hit the midpoint of its estimate range at $16,800. Sports-minded bidders also teed off in pursuit of a Mills 25-cent Hole in One gambling machine that pays off in brand new golf balls. It flew past its $1,200-$1,500 estimate to land nicely in the green, at $7,200.
Complete with original factory stand, a Watling 25-cent Rol-A-Top machine with a rich red convex façade simulating cherries concluded its bidding run at $7,800. Other noteworthy amusements included an early 20th-century Junior Crane 1-cent digger machine, $9,600 against a $2,000-$3,000 estimate; and a World War II-era Poison This Rat trade stimulator with a cartoon-like depiction of Hitler, $9,000 against a presale estimate of $2,000-$2,500.
The antique advertising portion of the sale was led by a self-framed 1904 Coca-Cola cameo sign in near-mint condition featuring an elegantly gowned model. With strong colors and crisp lithography, the all-original sign estimated at $8,000-$12,000 was bid to $22,800.
A noteworthy lot among the general advertising lots was a 1920s/1930s convex porcelain corner sign replicating a can of Campbells Vegetable Soup. In excellent-plus condition, the eye-catching advert more than doubled its high estimate, cooking up a winning bid of $7,200.
Music machines and phonographs followed in line behind an 18½-inch standing double-comb music box offered together with a selection of 27 records. It finished near the top of its estimate range at $9,600.
Morphys CEO Dan Morphy said the March 17 sale drew an enthusiastic crowd. We even had to bring in 50 additional chairs to accommodate everyone who attended, he said. We were very pleased with the days results and, of course, we were honored to have been chosen to auction machines from the collection of the late Frank Zygmunt, who was such an important force in the coin-op collecting hobby.
To contact Morphy Auctions, call 717-335-3435. Visit the companys website at www.morphyauctions.com