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Morphy’s rolls out rare coin-ops, mechanical music, antique advertising, Nov. 4-6

Exquisite 1899 Mills ‘Double Dewey’ 5-cent and 25-cent musical slot machine, 68in tall, ornate cast-iron claw feet, reliefs of Admiral Dewey, and Mozart. Comes with keys. Estimate $40,000-$80,000

DENVER, Pa. – At the turn of the 20th century, a pocketful of nickels or quarters was all a patron needed for thrills and entertainment at a saloon, amusement arcade or gambling house. Remarkably, the price to operate the ingenious machines that once filled a room with music or paid out a jackpot has not changed, but finding fine examples of such machines is quite another matter. This explains why Morphy Auctions’ Coin-Op & Antique Advertising series is so popular with collectors. Morphy’s never fails to present a connoisseur’s selection of coin-ops and exquisite advertising signs that are rarely seen elsewhere. Their next specialty sale, November 4-6, will offer more than 1,500 choice lots over the three-day period.

Featured: Star Trade Register musical trade stimulator, Mills Double Dewey, superb Euro. music boxes, Brown Derby neon sign, Grandmother Predictions fortune-teller machine

An impressive lineup of 122 music machines is led by a Star Trade Register (Montpelier, Vt.) musical trade stimulator with a 15½-inch Style 11 Regina coin-op disc music mechanism. Manufactured at the turn of the 20th century for placement in cigar stores, this imposing 85-inch-tall machine was part of a very short production run and is numbered “38.” The simplicity of its design belies the sophistication of its mechanism.

The Star Trade Register musical trade stimulator with 15½in Style 11 Regina coin-op disc music mechanism. Early 20th century, 85in tall, impeccable condition. Very rare in any condition, and one of very few known examples in working order. Estimate $75,000-$125,000

“No cranks needed to be pulled or rotated. The weight of the customers’ nickels was enough to activate the four cast-iron bull wheels, which were calibrated to move one position per coin. Winners would receive tokens to exchange for one, two or three cigars.” explained Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions. “It’s an extremely rare machine in any condition. To find one in excellent working order, looking as impeccable as this one, is nearly unheard of.” The pre-sale estimate is $75,000-$125,000.

A classic amongst coin-ops and a machine every collector aspires to own, an exquisite 1899 Mills “Double Dewey” 5-cent and 25-cent musical slot machine (shown at top of page) stands 68 inches tall and has ornate cast-iron claw feet and bas-relief images of Admiral Dewey and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The center of the machine is dominated by a fine music box housed behind glass, and plays a short tune with each spin. Superbly restored and complete with keys, it carries a $40,000-$80,000 estimate.

Circa-1880 Nicole Freres desk model interchangeable overture cylinder music box with 10 cylinders, each containing 4 overtures. Pull-out writing desk; inlaid door and music box lid. Estimate $30,000-$60,000

Early previewers at Morphy’s gallery have marveled at the European style and technology of several music machines, including a circa-1880 Nicole Freres desk model interchangeable overture cylinder music box. It comes with 10 cylinders, each capable of playing four overtures. Founded in Geneva in 1814, Nicole Freres is considered one of the finest makers of music boxes of all time because of their inventiveness and ability to produce mechanisms of superlative quality within cases of unparalleled beauty and quality. The machine mentioned here has a pull-out writing desk; and inlaid door and music box lid. It is estimated at $30,000-$60,000.

Stunning Paillard Vaucher Fils St-Croix (Swiss) revolving-cylinder music box with bells and six 18in cylinders that play 8 tunes each. Mixed woods with mother-of-pearl inlay; with matching burlwood table. Estimate $25,000-$40,000

Another Continental stunner is a Paillard Vaucher Fils St-Croix (Swiss) revolving-cylinder music box with bells and six 18-inch cylinders that play 8 tunes, each with a sound that is deep and rich. Constructed of mixed woods with mother-of-pearl inlay, and paired with its matching burlwood table, this luxury music box is expected to reach $25,000-$40,000 at auction.

Lochmann original No. 172 coin-operated disc music box and stand, walnut version, circa 1903, 92in tall, has duplex music comb with 160 teeth, and 12 Klangohren (tubular) bells. Estimate $10,000-$20,000

Lochmann, a music box manufacturer established in 1885 in Leipzig, Germany, was known for its talented engineers, including Gustave Brachhausen and Paul Rissner, who made major contributions to the musical movements industry. Morphy’s is pleased to offer an original walnut version of Lochmann’s No. 172 coin-operated disc music box with stand. Made circa 1903 and standing 92 inches tall, it displays such notable features as a duplex music comb with 160 teeth, and 12 Klangohren (tubular) bells. The auction estimate is $10,000-$20,000.

International Mutoscope Reel Co., ‘Grandmother Predictions’ coin-operated fortune-telling machine, circa 1931. Exceptional condition seen in both wooden case and glass panels. Comes with keys. Size 85 x 30 x 25½ in. Estimate $20,000-$30,000

The ability to look into the future is a concept that has fascinated humankind for untold millennia. Coin-operated machines of the late 19th- and early 20th centuries reflect the ongoing popularity of clairvoyance into the modern era. A circa-1931 International Mutoscope Reel Co., “Grandmother Predictions” coin-operated fortune-telling machine is in top-notch condition with an exceptionally nice wooden case, no flaking to the glass, and very attractive nickel castings. This experienced psychic of yesteryear predicts an auction price of $20,000-$30,000.

Framed Smith’s Kidney Pills lithographed tin sign, 43½ x 31in (framed). Rare and beautiful antique sign with wonderful colors. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

The antique advertising section of the sale boasts more than 800 lots from which to choose, with dozens of subcategories ranging from alcohol, tobacco and automotive signs to soft drink, soda fountain and store display items. A rare and beautiful crossover sign with equal appeal to collectors of Black Americana and medicinal advertising, a framed Smith’s Kidney Pills lithographed tin sign has survived quite remarkably over time, with bright, strong colors and an image of an African American boy. The 43½ by 31-inch (framed) sign comes to auction with a $10,000-$15,000 estimate.

Embossed, lithographed tin sign from Iver Johnson, famous maker of early bicycles and guns. Excellent graphics and composition, 27¾ x 19½in. Condition 7.8. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

The Iver Johnson company, founded in 1871 by a Norwegian immigrant in Massachusetts, was an American manufacturer of firearms, bicycles and motorcycles. While the company’s bicycles were graceful and well-engineered, not much of their early bike advertising seems to have survived. An exciting entry in Morphy’s sale is an Iver Johnson Cycles lithographed tin sign, condition 7.8, promoting their “Honest Cycles At Honest Prices.” The excellent graphics feature a pretty lady rider wearing a long dress and straw boater hat. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

iconic 154- by 83-inch figural neon sign from LA’s legendary Brown Derby restaurant, 1940s/’50s vintage, will be offered with a $40,000-$80,000

An iconic 154- by 83-inch figural neon sign from LA’s legendary Brown Derby restaurant, 1940s/’50s vintage, will be offered with a $40,000-$80,000 estimate. Dozens of other neon signs are slated for sale, including colorful examples from Bob’s Big Boy, Foster’s Freeze, Johnny Rocket’s, Van de Kamp’s Bakery, and many other restaurants and stores.

Outstanding and complete Park Florists die-cut porcelain neon sign with rose graphic and scrollwork, double-sided, on metal can. Condition of front and back: 8.75+ and 8.5+ respectively. Estimate $8,000-$15,000

A double-sided Park Florists die-cut porcelain neon sign with a red-rose graphic and scrollwork embellishments is graded a strong 8.75+ and 8.5+ on front and back, respectively. Estimate $8,000-$15,000. “Neon collectors will find this lineup of outstanding signs very hard to resist,” Morphy remarked.

Cretors & Co., Improved No. 2 popcorn wagon with canopy, made in 1912 and restored for use. Size: 82 x 70 x 33in. Estimate $5,000-$10,000

An all-American specialty item that evokes immediate nostalgia is a Cretors & Co. (Chicago), Improved No. 2 popcorn wagon with a peppermint-striped canopy. Made in 1912 and restored for use, it’s ready to be wheeled to a new home for an estimated bid of $5,000-$10,000.

The auction also features vending machines, jukeboxes, pinball machines, cash registers, scales and country store items; cigar cutters, lighters, movie memorabilia, furniture, fine and decorative art; and general antiques.

Morphy’s Thursday/Friday/Saturday, Nov. 4,5 and 6 Coin Op & Advertising Auction will start each day at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 877-968-8880 or email

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