CHICAGO — Classic advertising and coin-operated devices from bygone days are the stars at Potter & Potter on Friday, September 22. With more than 700 lots up for bid, the range and depth of the Coin-Op & Advertising sale is something not commonly seen in today’s auction environment. Bidding is available on LiveAuctioneers.

Beginning in the late 19th century, retailers began using trade stimulators – coin-operated devices designed to entertain and challenge patrons (usually in drinking establishments) while they passed the time. Powered by coins and ever-advancing technology, the devices were issued in a dizzying array of designs, from ‘penny drop to target and shooting-type machines. Some localities considered the machines gambling devices and either seized or destroyed them, making many examples exceedingly rare today.

So too is the diversity of advertising signs. Unlike the conformity of LED-powered signs we see today, 100 years ago (or more), signs were usually unique, created especially for the specific client, and for the trades, often resembled elements associated with the business, such as eyeglasses for an optician. Many signs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries were reverse painted on glass, meaning the sign was actually a piece of glass with graphics applied in a mirror reversal to show the correct orientation to the viewer, while preserving the delicate painting on the reverse. Due to their fragility, these are rare today.

A featured lot in the sale is this optician’s trade sign made from hand-forged metal and featuring colorful blue and red glass. Designed to hang outside an eye doctor’s office, this lot is estimated at $1,500-$2,500.

Financing has long been a part of American commerce. A ‘Glasses on credit’ reverse painted sign featuring a prominent eyeball image carries an estimate of $1,000-$2,000.

Pre-Prohibition drinking establishment signs are always in demand. A J. F. Jecker Saloon hanging sign, with clear provenance to its original home in Victoria, Texas, just northeast of Corpus Christi, is made from wood and measures 95 by 42 by 1.5in. It is estimated at $4,000-$8,000.

A great way of entertaining while separating patrons from their money is the shooting gallery-type device. This Norris 1-cent target practice countertop game is in working condition – just drop the penny in and the patron attempts to “shoot” the coin into the target hole. It has a $1,500-$2,000 estimate.

Register now for Potter & Potter’s Coin-Op and Advertising Sale September 22 at LiveAuctioneers.