PAIR OF ANTIQUE MILLS NOVELTY COMPANY COIN-OPS – A VIOLANO-VIRTUOSO AND A PERFECT MUSCLE DEVELOPER – REALIZE IDENTICAL PRICES OF $15,930 AT FONTAINE’S
The turn-of-the-century machines shared top lot honors at an auction held Sept. 21 in Pittsfield, Mass.
(PITTSFIELD, Mass.) – A pair of antique Mills Novelty Company coin-operated machines – a Violano-Virtuoso and a Perfect Muscle Developer – shared top lot honors by realizing identical selling prices of $15,930 each at an auction held Sept. 21 by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery in the firm’s Pittsfield gallery. The sale featured music lots, advertising, coin-ops, country store, gaming, toys and accessories.
The Violin-Virtuoso, a rare machine, played from large paper rolls that turned on an electric motor housed in the base. It simultaneously played a piano built into the backboard and a single violin in the top section of the cabinet. The 5-cent coin slide was on the front right side of a large mahogany case that had folding front doors with glass panels on the front that exposed the good-condition violin.
The Perfect Muscle Developer, 67 inches tall by 22 inches wide, was a test-of-strength machine, with a 13-inch painted metal dial having 100-point markers from 0-900 and phrases along the way pertaining to the strength of the “lift.” In the center was a portrait of a man flexing his muscles and a banner reading “Show Your Strength!” with an index chart comparing average strength to weight ratios.
Over 450 lots crossed the auction block with 900 bidders participating online via LiveAuctioneers.com, iCollector.com and Artfact.com. and an additional 450 customers bidding by phone, absentee and live in the gallery. Headlining the auction was a fine pair of outstanding 35-year collections from Pennsylvania & New York.
“It was a pleasant surprise that there was so much enthusiasm at this event,” said John Fontaine of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery. “The fact is the folks that collect musical items, coin-op and gaming machines are just naturally fun people. Everybody stayed from start to finish. They laughed together and talked together and just had a great time. Overall, it was a fabulous sale.”
Following are additional highlights from the auction. All prices quoted include an 18 percent buyer’s premium.
Wurlitzer jukeboxes did exceptionally well. Examples included a 1941 Model 850 floor model, known as “The Peacock” for its peacock graphics ($12,390); a 1946 Model 1015 floor model, called “The Bubbler” for its colorful bubbling tubes ($7,670: a Model 71 table model, 1940, with stand, made in 1940 ($8,850); and a 1947 Model 1080, or “The Colonial” ($8,260).
Antique phonographs also sparked fierce bidding wars. Popular lots included a United Talking Machine Company (Chicago) phonograph known as the Double-Bell Wonder ($12,390); a Victor mahogany Type VI phonograph and stand with 12-inch spring-driven turntable ($8,850); and The Oxford urn-shaped phonograph, made by The Munder Co., N.Y. ($5,900).
Graphophones (phonographs for recording and reproducing sounds on wax records) featured a floor-standing mahogany carved Columbia Graphonola DeLuxe model, playing 15 ½ inch discs on a double combed spring-driven mechanism ($8,555); and a Columbia Type AD Home Grand unit on a stand, with an oak case and fancy domed lid, patented in 1898 ($7,965).
A Chicago Coin’s Band Box jukebox orchestra speaker (DeLuxe Model 1951), with a curtain that opens to reveal an animated band beginning to play music once the jukebox is turned on, with a banner reading “Strike Up the Band,” fetched $7,670; and a J. Krejci & Son cylinder organ in fine playing condition, housed in a restored walnut case, playing eight tunes, hit $5,605.
A Seeburg “Shoot the Bear” arcade game, in which the player fires a laser at a display of a bear running around a cluster of trees with a hound dog chasing it, 20 shots per turn, housed in a 3-foot-tall by 3 ½-foot-wide target cabinet, garnered $7,139; and a 1940s advertising carousel for Indian Motorcycles, designed to be placed on a merry-go-round, two seats, brought $4,720.
Get your peanuts! Get your popcorn! A Salted Peanut Man coin-op peanut dispenser, one cent, with a large cast metal head of “Sam” with his tongue sticking out, the user inserting a coin, pulling Sam’s tongue and out pours a handful of peanuts, made $3,835; while a Popperette popcorn maker and dispenser, made in the 1950s and in good working condition, rose to $6,195.
A Swiss-made B.A. Bremond inlaid cylinder musical mandolin Organcleide bell box, the rosewood box having inlaid borders and an ebonized panel on the lid with flowers, filigree and a scroll, playing ten tunes (airs) breezed to $5,900; and a Criterion mahogany 15 ¾ inch disc music box with mahogany case and on an original mahogany stand, with 73 discs, commanded $5,605.
A Mills Special Award 7-7-7 25-cent high top reel style slot machine with black painted case, silver escutcheons and mounts, and a standing wood carved and painted figure of Al Capone smoking a cigar and holding a Tommy gun, went for $5,251; and a floor model, 5-cent “The Quartoscope” view machine with quarter sawn oak case, showing 12 slides, made $4,130.
A Green River Whiskey tin advertising sign with a figure of a black man standing by the side of the Green River Inn beside a horse, made by Chas. W. Schonk Co. Litho. (Chicago) 30 inches by 40 inches, knocked down at $4,720; and a Glasco Model GBV-50 Coca-Cola cooler and vending machine, accepting dimes or two nickels, a red painted floor model, rose to $3,363.
Fontaine’s Auction Gallery’s next big sale is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 19, at 11 a.m., also in the Pittsfield gallery. Offered will be over 400 lots of fine furniture and accessories, lighting, bronzes, art glass, cameo glass, paintings, porcelain and more. Headlining the event will be the David Marshall Collection. For over 30 years, Mr. Marshall operated The Antique Room in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he sold only the finest museum-quality, 19th century American antiques.
With over 40 years in the auction business, Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is a name that has earned the trust of collectors, investors and gallery owners around the world. Cataloged lots receive nationwide exposure to the firm’s expansive database of over 15,000 qualified buyers. Seven times Fontaine’s Auction Gallery has been voted “Best Antique Auction Gallery” by the public.
Fontaine’s Auction Gallery is actively seeking quality consignments for the next Musical, Coin-op, Advertising, Country Store, Toy & Gaming Auction to be held in the Spring of 2014 . The firm also buys antiques, collections and entire estates outright. To consign an item, estate or collection, call (413) 448-8922 and ask for John Fontaine. or, e-mail him at email@example.com. For more information about the upcoming October 19 auction, log on to www.FontainesAuction.com.