I have for sale a Mills 5 cent Owl top Bell/Fruit/Gum Antique mechanical slot machine. Has the looking glass top to see the last few coins dropped (no slugs) - includes metal stand from Las Vegas. Fabulous bingo casino. Vintage Mills Bell Fruit Gum 5c Slot Machine It appears to function when the handle is pulled, but will need some work. Vintage Bell Fruit Gum 5c Slot Machine. Correction, it is a Watling, not a Mills. The item 'Vintage Mills Bell Fruit Gum 5c Slot Machine.
Nations Attic performs quite a few restorations on antique slot machines in the course of a year. Alot of the machines are classics from the 1930’s and 1940’s. Sometimes the owners will share with us the stories behind the machine and why they are having it restored.
My personal favorite story and machine to restore this past year (2011) was a rare 1911 Mills Special Gum Vender Liberty Bell. Cast iron slot machines and trade stimulators from before World War 1 are rare. It’s always a treat to handle one and study how they were made.
Earlier in the year we had a gentleman in Oklahoma contact us about restoring this machine. The photos above show the condition it was in when it arrived in our shop. While not in horrible condition, it had been painted over with an orange paint, the mechanism was seized up and broken in 3 spots, the award frame was bolted to the lower front casting and the curved glass was missing.
While these early machines are smaller than examples from the 1930’s and 1940’s – they are heavier! Apparently the owner had been using this piece of American cast iron history as a weight in the back of his truck when it iced and snowed! While it did serve this purpose well, he decided to check with us to see if this machine had any value or not.
After checking with us about its value and restoration costs, he decided to bring to our shop in Wichita, Kansas and have it restored. He then invested in some sand bags to put in the back of his truck for weight rather than using a 100 year old slot machine, ha ha! All kidding aside, the owner is a wonderful guy with a great family story regarding the machine and reasons for having it restored.
The Mills Novelty Special Gum Vender Liberty Bell is a really great looking machine. It is one of the very first three reel slot machines made. When Mills Novelty came out with their Operator Bell & Liberty Bell machines in 1910 they knew they had a hit on their hands. So in 1911 they made a version of the Liberty Bell that vended rolls of mints. This machine originally had a mint vender attached to the left side of the cabinet. In almost every case the side vender attachment is missing, as it is in this case. This is also why the lower front of the machine appears to be a billboard for Liberty Bell Gum-Fruit 5c packages!
After taking the old paint off the castings, polishing and having them re-nickel plated all of the details came alive! The early mechanism with its simple form was actually more challenging to work on since Mills had not developed all the user friendly features that are common on 1930’s machines. With all the usual restoration details attended to, this machine will live on – just not in the back of a pick-up truck!
We have included some photos of this historic machine after restoration below. While the machine turned out looking great it was even better to present it to the owner and re-unite this piece of American history with the family!
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