Skip to content
Horse race slot machine

Horse race slot machine pays $29,212 at Miller & Miller sale

Horse race slot machine
The top lot of the auction was this Pace’s Races 5-cent horse race slot machine made in the United States in 1934, professionally restored mechanically and cosmetically. Sold for CA$29,212 (US$22,897) . Miller & Miller Auctions image

NEW HAMBURG, Ontario – A Pace’s Races 5-cent horse race slot machine sold for $29,212 and a made-in-Canada Black Cat Cigarettes porcelain sign from the 1940s realized $10,516 in an online-only Advertising, Toys & Historic Objects auction held Dec. 12 by Miller & Miller Auctions Ltd. Absentee and Internet live bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.

All prices quoted are in Canadian dollars (CA$1=US$.78) and are inclusive of an 18 percent buyer’s premium.

“The Pace’s Races slot machine blew us away,” said Ethan Miller of Miller & Miller Auctions. “There’s only a handful known. This one was masterfully restored, both cosmetically and mechanically, and it worked flawlessly.” When the game of odds was introduced by Pace Manufacturing of Chicago in the 1930s, it became the largest money-making machine of its kind.

The Black Cat Cigarettes porcelain sign, measuring 50½ inches by 48 inches, is widely seen as one of the most attractive porcelain signs in Canadian advertising history. A green-eyed black cat was shown with the statement, “They taste better”, with “Black Cat Cigarettes” in script beneath that. It was marked “St. Thomas Metal Signs” on the lower edge and only had minor blemishes.

Horse race slot machine
Black Cat Cigarettes porcelain sign, 50 ½ inches by 48 inches. Sold for CA$10,516. Miller & Miller Auctions image

The auction was packed with 712 lots of advertising signs, toys, breweriana, coin-ops, historic objects, general store, agricultural collectibles telephones and more. “Advertising is as hot as ever,” Miller said. “There’s a tsunami of interest in good, authentic advertising. Key pieces met or surpassed our expectations.”

Nearly 60 percent of lots brought prices that met or exceeded estimates, while 26 percent of lots surpassed even the high-end estimate.

A C. Cretors & Co. floor model popcorn and nut machine, made in the U.S. in the 1910s, finished at $5,842. The machine featured a steel frame case with wood trim doors set with beveled glass. It was professionally restored, to include refinished wood trim, repainted case and nickeled trim. The top had two electric lights and an animated clown that turned a glass cylinder.

Breweriana collectors were entranced by the many rarities in the lifetime beer tray collection of Andy Cottrell. “Andy’s breweriana was eagerly soaked up by the veteran collector community,” Miller remarked, adding, “You know when the old guys raise their eyebrows that you’re selling a special collection.” A few top-sellers from the collection included:

– An oval Huether’s Lion Brewery tray, Canadian, circa 1890s. The 13¼-by-16-inch tray was marked, “Standard Adv. Co. Coshocton. O.” on the lower inner rim ($5,258).

– A rare “Berlin” Lion Brewery tin litho sign, Canadian, 1901, the only example known to exist, 14 by 19 inches (sight, less oak frame), the center depicting a lion’s head cartouche flanked with hop leaves ($8,179).

– A Dawes Lachine Brewery single-sided porcelain sign, Canadian, circa 1890s, 30 by 19 inches, with excellent color and gloss. An early, pre-Dawes Black Horse Brewery sign that read “Dawes Lachine Ales & Porter” with a black horse graphic ($4,967).

– A Kuntz’s Brewery “Bologna Girl” beer tray, Canadian, 1900s, Lithographed steel and marked, “Kaufmann & Strauss Co. NY 1277” lower inner rim, 13inches in diameter ($7,011).

Horse race slot machine
Kuntz’s Brewery ‘Bologna Girl’ beer tray, Canadian, 1900s, lithographed steel and marked, ‘Kaufmann & Strauss Co. NY 1277.’ Sold for CA$7,011. Miller & Miller Auctions image

An 1878 agricultural patent model for the “Lady Dufferin” reaper – a sophisticated working scale model of a reaping machine, with functioning sail blades, fans and height setting, made by C.A. Davidson of Mount Forest, Ontario – hammered for $7,595. A Sawyer-Massey 1-inch scale plowing engine working model, made in the 1950s out of steel and brass by W.E. Deering of Surrey, British Columbia, still in its original custom case, knocked down for $9,840.

Horse race slot machine
1878 agricultural patent model for the Lady Dufferin reaper. Sold for CA$7,595. Miller & Miller Auctions image

Lifesize store display mannequins of American toy dolls Ken and Barbie, each one 75 inches tall and made around 1960, were sold as one lot, besting the $3,500-$5,000 estimate to settle at $5,842. Also, a “one-off” scale model of the celebrated Wardair Canada Boeing 747 plane, by Space Models UK, made in England in the 1960s, 76 inches long, flew off for $8,880.

Horse race slot machine
Six-foot-long scale model of the Wardair Canada Boeing 747 plane by Space Models UK. Sold for CA$8,880. Miller & Miller Auctions image

An origianal Coca-Cola Vendo 44 vending machine stamped “The Vendo Company, Kansas City” and made for the Canadian market in the 1950s, with original paint and chrome and still able to cool, rose to $9,348. A brass transit level made by A.F. Potter of Toronto in 1915, in its original dovetailed case with overpaint, made $5,842.

Horse race slot machine
Coca-Cola Vendo 44 vending machine in working order. Sold for CA $9,348. Miller & Miller Auctions image

A National Cash Register floor model 106-6-A, one of the company’s most visually impressive and complex machines, built for “D.W. Henry, Springfield, Ont.,” 65 inches tall, fully functioning and professionally restored, rang up $4,967. Also, a rare and historically significant early Bell Canada mahogany three-box magneto wall telephone, containing the early “Blake Transmitter” invented in 1878 by Francis Blake, circa 1880s, changed hands for $4,674.

For details contact Miller & Miller Auctions at 519-573-3710 or

[av_button label=’View the fully illustrated catalog with prices realized.’ icon_select=’no’ icon=’ue800′ font=’entypo-fontello’ link=’manually,’ link_target=’_blank’ size=’small’ position=’center’ label_display=” title_attr=” color_options=” color=’theme-color’ custom_bg=’#444444′ custom_font=’#ffffff’ btn_color_bg=’theme-color’ btn_custom_bg=’#444444′ btn_color_bg_hover=’theme-color-highlight’ btn_custom_bg_hover=’#444444′ btn_color_font=’theme-color’ btn_custom_font=’#ffffff’ id=” custom_class=” av_uid=’av-7f3da74′ admin_preview_bg=”]


View top auction results on LiveAuctioneers here: