Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The United States Navy Mark V Diving Helmet

Fully Polished World War 2 Antique Mark V Diving Helmet
Classic 1943 A. Schrader US Navy Mark V Diving Helmet - Fully Polished
As mentioned in some previous blogs, Nation’s Attic not only deals in vintage coin operated machines but also in vintage diving helmets and related equipment. While it may seem a little odd that a company in Wichita, Kansas deals in this sort of thing, there is no doubt that this stuff is super cool and we like it!

Regarded by many to be the ultimate copper & brass diving helmet, is the United States Navy Mark V.  This type of helmet was first made in 1917 and used clear into 1980! Even after 1980 the Mark V was still being used by commercial divers around the world. The helmet is ultra-safe, reliable and very durable, which explains why it was used around the world for such a long time.
Today collectors regard this helmet as the cornerstone of any collection. I refer to the Mark V as the “gold standard” in diving helmet collecting. I refer to it like that because the Mark V represents the peak of design for “antique” diving helmets, it was made in relatively large numbers and it’s simply the most interesting looking helmet ever produced!
The Mark V was made by four different companies from 1917 to 1980. For the most part the helmets looked the very same from day one until 1980. Really the only way to tell one helmet from another was the manufactures name plate on the front breastplate of the helmet. Below we have a photo of what each of the plates looked like on a Mark V.

US Navy Diving Helmet DESCO Mark V
Diving Equipment & Salvage Co US Navy Mark V Tag From 1945
US Navy Diving Helmet Mark V Miller Dunn
Miller Dunn US Navy Mark V Tag From 1944
US Navy Diving Helmet Mark V Morse Diving
Morse Diving Equipment US Navy Mark V Tag From 1941
United States Navy Diving Helmet Mark V Mod 1 Schrader
A. Schrader's & Son US Navy Mark V Tag From 1944
As you can see in the photos, the name plates do look noticeably different. Over the years the makers plates would changes for various reasons. All of these plates shown are from the World War 2 period. The time from 1942 to 1945 is when by far the most Mark V helmets were produced. The government had four companies making the Mark V and other types of helmets for underwater work during the war.

Out of the four companies that made the Mark V, three of them made the helmet before and after World War 2. Those companies were Morse Diving Equipment, Schrader and DESCO or Diving Equipment & Salvage Company. A smaller company in Miami, Florida named Miller Dunn made the Mark V only during World War 2. Their name plate is generally harder to read than the others. Miller Dunn also made a shallow water helmet for the US Navy called the Style 3 Divinhood, which is also quite collectable today.
US Navy Mark V Diving Helmet World War 1 Schrader 1917
Early US Navy Mark V Helmet Made by A. Scharder in 1917 - sold by Nations Attic
Looking at vintage diving helmets from the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries from strictly a “cool looking” standing point – the Mark V has them all beat. That primary factor along with the numbers of them made, their long use with Navies around the world and popular movies such as Men Of Honor have made this helmet an American icon and diving history gold for people around the world. With the growing popularity of “Steam Punk” design these helmets are more popular than ever now.

With any valuable and popular antique there will be reproductions unfortunately. The Mark V has been reproduced for decades. The most common reproduction is one with a name tag on the front by Morse and the date 8-29-41 and no serial number. Tens of thousands of these “8-29-41” helmets have been made. Below is a photo of the Morse tag for these reproduction helmets. While these helmets are fine for display purposes they have very little antique value and cannot be used to actually dive in!
Tag On Reproduction Of US Navy Mark V Helmet
Example Of A Reproduced Mark V Helmet Tag Dated 8-29-41 With Morse Name & No Serial Number
In addition to the helmet itself, divers required quite a bit of additional equipment to do their jobs. Of course we are always interested in buying these helmets, but we are also looking for the old canvas suits, diving knives, diving boots and even divers air pumps as well! Just about anything related to or used by divers we have an interest in purchasing.
US Navy Mark V Diver In Full Gear During World War II
Photo Of World War II Era Diver With Full Mark V Diving Gear
Please feel free to give us a call at 316-371-1828, email us at helmets@nationsattic.com  or visit our web site devoted to helmets at www.oldhelmet.com .  If you are thinking about selling a helmet, needing help with one or would like to purchase an authentic diving helmet, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Watling Cherry Front, Rol-A-Top, Rol-A-Tor or Bird of Paradise Restoration by Jenny Creekmore


Before & After Restoration Of a Classic 5c Watling Rol-A-Top Coin Front Slot Machine by Nations Attic 
I am always ecstatic to restore a Watling Cherry front, a Watling Rol-A-Top, a Watling Rol-A-Tor, or a Watling Bird of Paradise back to its original brilliance.  A lot of the Watling machines are no longer in good original condition.  When the antique slot machine is too far from being in original condition, I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to work on the machine. 

I have personally restored numerous Watling slot machines.  Once the castings are stripped of all the old paint and buffed to a high shine, the castings then need to be cleaned of all buffing material.  It truly is necessary to take your time in doing an excellent cleaning job, before any painting can occur. 
Close-Up Of Rare Cherry Front Rol-A-Top Before & After Restoration By Nations Attic

Back in the day, Watling used a paint that was iridescent or somewhat see through.  The castings need to be very clean and buffed to a high shine, for the iridescent paint to really reveal the beauty of the castings.  The Watling Cherry front would have had a red iridescent paint on the cherries, while the coins on a Watling Rol-A-Tor, Watling Rol-A-Top or Watling Bird of Paradise would have had a gold iridescent paint. 

Close-Up Of A Watling Rol-A-Top Bird of Paradise With Original Factory Gold Paint
We have the capability to reproduce both the red and gold iridescent paint.  We are proud to say that we specialize in factory correct restorations.  We strive to make the machines as perfect as they were when they left the factory back in time. 
Don teases me at times, because I want every machine to be as perfect as it possibly can be.  I almost obsess over each and every detail that goes into making a machine as perfect as possible.  I know that our customers treasure their machines and I treat them as I would treat my own machines.  I care for all of the machines that we ever handle and sometimes I begin to feel attached to them.  That is why he teases me!

Example Of A US Coin Front Rol-A-Top Lower Casting Before & After Detailed Restoration by Nations Attic
I really wish I could go back in time to speak with the people working in the Watling manufacturing facility.  I would want to speak with the designers, mechanics, wood workers, painters, hand painters, operators, sales team, marketing personnel and so forth.   
Often, we will get in a machine and the paint is not perfectly straight or a decal may have been slapped on the side of the wood in a crooked position.  Basically, the machine would show some kind of ‘rush’ action during the building of the machine.  It always makes me wonder why.  If only we could hear stories about these machines being built and the need to get them out as fast as possible. 
Don reminds me that when these machines were being manufactured they were a device to make money, not a family heirloom, family story or a collectible.  Yes, that does put things into perspective.
However, I do know how to properly restore a Watling machine.  Once the iridescent paint is on the castings, I hand paint everything else.  This is important, because when a casting has been buffed to a high shine, sometimes it is difficult for paint to adhere.  Plus, they hand painted the machines back in the day!  I have my method down (which is a secret) and I take lots and lots of time carefully hand painting.  It is crucial to take your time to have straight lines and NO brush strokes. 

The Oak Cabinet, Back Bonnet and Other Parts Get The Same First Classic Treatment As The Front On This Rol-A-Top
I also have my secrets on properly finishing the wood cabinet.  You definitely cannot rush!
At this time, Don and I do not own a Watling Cherry front, Watling Rol-A-Tor, Watling Rol-A-Top or Watling Bird of Paradise in our personal collection.  I truly would love to own one of these wonderful machines.  If you happen to have one, I am definitely a buyer.  Or if you have a machine that needs to be restored or repaired, I am more than happy to send you some photos of the work we have completed on some other machines.    
Oh, and if you or anyone in your family worked for the Watling company, we would be beyond thrilled to hear your stories and see any photos you might have available! Please call us at 316-371-1828 or email slots@nationsattic.com

Also, please click on any of the photos in this blog to view the photos in more detail.
Thank you!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Something From A Nightmarish Steampunk Convention? Nope, Just An Antique Smoke Helmet!


As mentioned in previous blogs, the Nations Attic deals in antique helmets of various sorts in addition to antique coin operated equipment. Most of these helmets are for underwater use, but on occasion we find helmets used for other jobs that strike our fancy.


One such type of helmet is called a Smoke Helmet. These were made in many cases by the same companies that made diving helmets, like Siebe Gorman. These smoke helmets were used by fire fighters, just like an oxygen mask is used today in firefighting.  An air supply was fed into a helmet that was fire resistant (to a degree). The air was usually pumped into the helmet from someone pushing a billow with their foot. This is the very same principal diving helmets used, with a tender above water operating an air pump.


These smoke helmets were made with various materials and tend to look quite unusual today. The image above is one made in France. There are actually rumors that C-P3O’s design inspiration, from the Star Wars movies, came from this helmet! Regardless if that’s true or not, these helmets do resemble something from science fiction films new and old.
We are always looking to purchase vintage smoke helmets and any other antique industrial helmets that may be unusual or rare. Please give me (Don Creekmore) a call at 316-371-1828 or email helmets@nationsattic.com

Mills Submarine Lung Tester by Jenny Creekmore


Mills Novelty Submarine Lung Tester Image From Sales Catalog

Don and I enjoy all types of antiques.  We have always looked for rare and interesting pieces to bring to our home and to our business.  There is a fascinating coin operated item that we would truly be thrilled to find.  Not only is this machine coin operated, but it has a nautical theme.  This machine is right up our alley!
It is a Mills Submarine Lung Tester, which is approximately 100 years old.  Don has a Mills Novelty catalog and one of the machines available in the catalog is this awesome lung tester.  Well, as usual, I was totally excited about this wonderful piece of Americana.  I instantly became curious and asked Don lots and lots of questions.
I was extremely shocked to hear, that none of these machines exist.  At least that is the rumor!  Well, this only made me ask even more questions.  Now logically, I understand that Tuberculosis was a problem and this type of machine was an easy way to spread diseases and illnesses.  So I can see why the machines are difficult to find.
Here were some of my initial questions.  Was this machine ever manufactured?  If so, how many were manufactured?  If it wasn’t manufactured, why did they put it in the catalog? Or was it a concept machine?  Did any other company try to mimic and produce a similar lung tester?  If these were manufactured, why don’t any originals still exist?  Was it due to Tuberculosis or some other reason?  Does anyone have photos or memories of this machine being used in a public place?  If these beautiful machines were destroyed, what was the process?  Did Mills give refunds to the customers or did the owner just have to eat the cost? 
See, all of these questions were just racing through my mind.  It just doesn’t make sense as to why no originals exist.  If we could only go back in time!
The detailed workmanship is so amazing and the concept is exciting.  Just think of how much fun it would be to see if you could get more divers to the surface than your buddy.  (Minus all of the possible germs – just take that gross factor out) 
The top of the machine would have said “How Many Divers Can You Bring To The Top”.  It only took a penny and you would have a chance to blow in the tube to see if you could get one, two, three, four or even five divers to the surface.  So awesome!  The top of the machine had a detailed ocean view, with waves and rocks.  The ships are just as detailed and they even have the American flag flying on one of the ships.  The five divers are down in the ocean and look like they are near an old shipwreck.  The divers even have the full jake.  (Helmet, suit, boots and belt)  I am so impressed with all of the realism and accuracy that Mills put into the design of this machine.  The lower part of the machine has an image of mermaids swimming in the sea.  The machine was encased in wood and had ornate fish as an additional decoration.  It seems like no expense was spared when designing this machine.    
If you happen to have an original Mills Submarine Lung Tester, we would love to hear from you.  I truly hope that an original exists somewhere and that we can one day be fortunate enough to look, touch and experience the machine.  Or if you have any family photos or stories about this piece of Americana, we would be so thrilled to speak with you.  The search continues and may you be as excited as we are with this mysterious and gorgeous machine. Jenny or Don can be reached at 316-371-1828 or slots@nationsattic.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rust On Antique Slot Machines by Jenny Creekmore

 Do you have an antique slot machine mechanism that looks like this? 

Example Of A Rusted Antique Pace Slot Machine Mechanism


If so, please keep reading. 

Don and I frequently get asked about rust on slot machine parts.  Over the years, we have seen slot machines that have been underwater due to floods, hurricanes and tornados.  We have also encountered machines that have sat out in garages, barns and sheds.  In humid environments or damp areas these machines just love to absorb the moisture. 

Now on a disgusting note, we should also mention that mouse nests can really damage the inside of a slot machine.  Those little critters just love to get inside the slot machine and make homes for themselves and their family.  Whether they use the cash box or the front of the machine, they tend to expel urine and feces in the machine.  This is devastating to the insides of the slot machine.  (And icky too)

So between underwater damage, general humidity or weather elements and animal secretions, you might have a slot machine or slot machine mechanism that needs to be taken care of. 

Fortunately, we have a solution to the problem.  Don and I can completely disassemble the slot machine or slot machine mechanism.  We have the capability of media blasting the rust off of each and every component.  Once the rust has been removed, we then apply a clear coat to the metal.  This is a very time consuming task, but it is something we have a lot of experience in doing.  To stop the rust from continuing to damage the metal, it is necessary to remove all rust and then clear coat the part.  This needs to occur on every single part before reassembly.

Sometimes, the rust is so significant that pitting will be in the metal.  There isn’t much we can do about the pitting, but the metal won’t continue to erode.  If the rust is not taken care of, it will continue to ‘eat’ away at the metal until the parts are destroyed.

Here is a picture of an antique slot machine mechanism after being disassembled, media blasted, clear coated and reassembled.


Example Of A Restored Antique Pace Slot Machine Mechanism

If you have a machine that needs some help, please feel free to call us at 316-371-1828 or email us at slots@nationsattic.com.  We are more than happy to help you get your antique slot machine back to factory original condition and free of all rust.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vintage Otard Dupuy Cognac Underwater Diver Poster Found!


Circa 1910 Otard Dupuy Poster Showing Diver Discovering Cases Of Cognac!

While our expertise primarily is with antique slot machines, Nations Attic also deals in vintage diving helmets. After years of handling antique diving equipment from all parts of the world, we have acquired a great working knowledge of this fascinating field.


Recently we had the good fortune to find an authentic circa 1910 Otard Dupuy Cognac advertising poster from France.  The theme of the poster is an underwater diver finding a treasure of Cognac bottles in their crates. The art itself (like many vintage French advertising posters) is really impressive and combined with the size of 40”x60”, it makes for a truly impressive piece.
Last year (2011) we had the fortune to handle a helmet very similar to the one illustrated in the poster.  This helmet was made by Siebe Gorman during the 1940’s. These Siebe Gorman helmets are the classic example of an English brass and copper deep sea water helmet. These helmets are similar in notoriety to the United Sates made Mark V helmets used by the US Navy for most of the 20th Century.
We will continue to post interesting photos and articles about antique diving helmets in the near future. If you have or discover any vintage diving equipment or even a vintage case of Otard Dupuy – please let us know! The web site for antique diving helmets can be found at www.oldhelmet.com

Monday, April 23, 2012

Unusual Rol-A-Top Slot Machine Bug Sighting

Unusual Weighted Percentage Device Found On A Watling Rol-A-Top Mechanism
Earlier this year I posted some information about antique slot machine percentage devices or more commonly known as “bugs”.  The article was titled Bugs In My Antique Slot Machine. I followed that up with a short update on a Mills Novelty slot machine bug we found in a machine a few days after writing that article.

Since that time, we have found numerous other bugs in machines we have gotten in for repair and restoration. Most of them are a similar configuration and do the same job – preventing one of the reels from stopping on the jackpot symbol.
Watling Rol-A-Top Restored By Nations Attic
Last week I did run across a rather unusual percentage device on a Watling Rol-A-Top we were restoring. As shown in the photo above, this device bolted to the outer ring of the reel. While this did not prevent the reel from stopping on the jackpot symbol, it did add quite a bit of weight to one section of the reel. This weight would cause the reel to want to stop in an area where the jackpot symbols were not located. This sly device was not fool proof but it still did the job of throwing off the number of times it would land on a jackpot symbol.
It should also be noted that it appears Watling went out of their way to provide pre-drilled spots on both the reel tins and inner reel stops. These pre drilled holes made it very easy to install a bug in seconds . Generally the other slot machine manufactures would never put these on their machines but Watling seems to have rolled out the red carpet for percentage device installation. Watling slot machines, specifically Rol-A-Top’s, are notorious for having hundreds of different small and large changes to the inside and outside of their machines. While these “bug holes” may not be in your Rol-A-Top, I’m sure others out there have some equally interestingly unique features!  Don - Nations Attic

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mills Dewey Restoration Part 3 by Jenny Creekmore


Dewey Upright Cabinet After Stripping
Don and I are slowly restoring our Mills Dewey antique slot machine.  When we have some time, which isn’t very often, we try to do a little work on the machine.  The first task was to take all of the metal off of the machine that needed to be copper plated.  I am pleased to say that this task has been completed and looks phenomenal.  The next big task is to begin the woodworking of the cabinet.

For some reason, back in the day, someone decided to paint this upright slot machine with a very heavy beige paint with burgundy accents.  Goodness...  I wanted to take every precaution when working on the wood, because we just didn’t know if the paint contained lead.  We finally found a respirator that filters out any lead particles. 

So let the stripping begin! 
Well, I am pleased to say that after lots and lots of paint stripper, you can finally see the wood.  I knew this was going to take a lot of time and elbow grease to get this paint removed, but it took a bit longer than anticipated.   That old paint did not want to come off the wood.  However, I am pleased to say, the machine has been stripped of that ugly paint and is now ready to be carefully sanded.   And even though the machine hasn’t been sanded, I can already see the beautiful wood. 
As I progress with the sanding I will post some photos on Facebook.  Stay tuned as we continue to make progress on the Dewey.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mills Dewey Upright Restoration Part 2 – Brief Historical Information & Details


Mills Dewey Upright Glass

My wife Jenny recently posted a blog about a Mills Dewey upright slot machine that we are restoring.  During the restoration process we have ran into a number of interesting details about the machine. I thought I would share some of these “finds” about this specific machine and the Mills Novelty Dewey slot machine in general.

In the fall of 1899 Mills Novelty of Chicago, IL introduced two 6-way slot machines, one called the Chicago and one the Dewey. Both of these machines allowed the player to bet on 6 different colors, hence the name 6-way machine. Mills also made the Owl, a 5-way and the Duplex, a 10-way in the large floor standing style as well.
It has been said that Mills intended the Dewey to actually be named the Puck. A competing company, Caille-Schiemer named a machine the Puck in 1898. This machine for Caille was a 6-way and turned out to be quite successful for them. In the tradition of the industry at that time, Mills was simply going to copy the name for their new 6-way machine. The name Puck was taken from a magazine called the Puck Weekly, which was a popular humor magazine at the time.
Just as Mills was getting ready to roll their two 6-way machines out to the market, Admiral George Dewey came back to America in September 1899 as a huge war hero. Capitalizing on his fame Mills decided to name their new machine the Dewey rather than Puck. The admiral’s likeness would actually appear on thousands of products during the early 20th Century. Other slot machine manufactures would also name their own upright models Dewey as well.

The Mills Novelty Dewey turned out to be a great sales success. Initially the Dewey was only available in 5c play but as production went on, Mills made everything from 5c to dollars. Mills Novelty made the Dewey in a large number of variations from 1899 clear into the 1930’s! Brand new Mills Dewey machines could actually be ordered in late 1932.

MIlls Dewey Inspection Tag
One of the rare but special treats with any slot machine is an inspection tag on the inside indicating when it was made. Many times these pieces of paper came off over time or were covered over with dirt and oil. When this machine came in we were quite excited to see that the original tag is still present.  As shown above, the machine was inspected on April 16th, 1903, making it 109 years old in a few days from writing this blog. The machines serial number of 11004 is also present in multiple locations including the tag.

As mentioned earlier, Mills started offering the Dewey in nickel though dollar soon after 1899. This particular machine accepts quarters. Rather than simply putting 25c on the coin head, Mills decided to make the Dewey machines that accept quarters a little different. As shown directly above, the ornate cast iron coin head had Two Bits cast into it.
Mills Dewey Coin Head - Two Bits

Many people today, over 100 years after this machine was made, wouldn’t have a clue what Two Bits means or what the two images on the center wheel are. (To be honest, it wasn’t that long ago that I wouldn’t have known what these various images and phrases were either.) The term Bits, when talking about money, is a way of saying 1/8 of a dollar – at least in the United States it does. Since there isn’t a 1/8 dollar coin many people would refer to a quarter as Two Bits. While it’s not a common term today, it’s wasn’t that obscure in 1903.
As for the images on the wheel, unless you are into horse riding or equestrian sports, like me, you probably have no idea what they are. First, they are not symbols for some secret organization or part of the Mayan calendar predicting the end of the word in 2012. What they are is a pair of horse bits. Like a good magic trick, the truth is usually a lot less cool than the imagination initially conceives, unless you are really into horses……

At the turn of the century most people used horses for their primary mode of transportation. Like cars today, most people can relate to common tools associated with a car. The images of two horse bits and the wording Two Bits on the coin entry of the machine made it obvious to most people in 1903 that this was a quarter slot machine. Today I bet many people would have no clue what kind of coin to put into this machine.
Another fantastic feature we found that I will go into more detail in a later blog posting is the fact this machine had a music box in it. By incorporating music into the machine, it would sometimes skirt gambling laws in parts of the country. The idea was to give the person a catchy song for their quarter, while also happening to be gambling at the same time. This put the machine into a gray area in some locations, allowing it to operate. When we received the machine it had its music box removed, but the details and clues were obvious inside the machine that one was present originally. We have located an original music box that will be re-incorporated into this machine.

Slot machine manufactures were always battling with gray anti-gambling laws in parts of the United States. These musical upright slot machines were the first to try and complicate those laws. Around 1910 and even a little earlier slot machines started adding gum and candy vender attachments. Rather than installing very expensive music boxes, these candy venders were much cheaper and did the same trick – confusing the law so the slot machine could operate a little longer while lawyers figured it all out.
As we progress further with the detailed restoration we will post more photos and details. Luckily our restoration and repair business has been so good in 2011 and 2012 that it has been difficult to find time to work on our own machines, but we will keep you updated! – Don Creekmore  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

O.D. Jennings Dixie Bell by Jenny Creekmore

O.D. Jennings Dixie Bell Restored By Nations Attic

Love it!
Don and I had the privilege to restore an O.D.  Jennings Dixie Bell for the nicest lady.   Yes, it was the first time I had ever seen one in person and of course I instantly fell in love with the machine. 
Oh dear…it is indeed another instance where I would just be thrilled to add a Dixie Bell to our personal collection.  Both Don and I truly are honored to work on such wonderful pieces of Americana.  The problem is our passion for these antique slot machines.  We just want to keep them all!  J
Not only does this antique slot machine have a stunning color of green, but look at the bells.  The bells are really just awesome.  Other than the obvious aesthetic beauty of this machine, let’s get to the interesting history of this vintage slot machine model. 
The O.D. Jennings Company manufactured this slot machine model for use in the southern parts of the United States, specifically Louisiana around 1937.  While it has not been proven, the story is that this model was a special order by gangster Frank Costello.  By having his own particular slot machine model, everyone knew who was in charge of and operated this ‘one armed bandit’.
The Dixie Bell is unique in that it has a false extra jackpot on the front.  The false jackpot was an attempt to attract more customers.  Customers would ‘think’ the machine had an extra-large jackpot, but they were really just being fooled.  The jackpot on the mechanism was really the same as other models being manufactured by O.D. Jennings at the time. 
Just a little bit of deception……gotta love our history!

For the before & after photos please go to: http://www.nationsattic.com/antique_jennings_slot_machine_restoration_repair_3.html

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How To Turn Your Antique Slot Machine Mechanism Into A Dust Infested Monster! By Don Creekmore


Mills 25c Roman Head Restored by Nations Attic
 
Roman Head Mechanism Coated In Fine Sticky Dust

Recently we just finished up restoring one of my favorite slot machines, a Mills Roman Head from the 1930’s. This model epitomizes the early style of the Golden Age of Slot Machines which lasted from the early 1930’s till the start of World War 2.
One of the biggest jobs involved with a restoration is working on the internal mechanism. This particular Roman Head had some internal parts missing and broken, but it also had another nasty surprise inside – blanketing layers of fine dust, lint and hair on every square inch! Shown below are a few close-up photos of just what I'm talking about.
Mills Mechanism - Close-Up Of Stuck On Dust!
Nasty Mills Mechanism! - Click To Enlarge Photo
Most machines are going to have there fair share of grease and dirt inside but this one was different. So how in the world did this particular mechanism turn into a dust magnet? The reason is simple, someone sprayed liberal amounts of a product know as Water Displacement 40 or WD-40 on the mechanism.
WD-40 will indeed lubricate antique slot machine mechanisms; it will also attract dust like mosquitos in a nudist colony! This is why many old machines simple get bogged down with dust after they have been sprayed over and over with WD-40.
Originally slot machine manufactures would recommend cleaning and lubricating the mechanism with gasoline. With the safety hazards associated with that and the fact gas is $4+ per gallon now, the best product to use is good old 3in1 oil. It does a great job of lubricating the small areas of a slot machine and will not attract the dust like WD-40 does.
As for the Roman Head mechanism that looked like it was evolving into a small furry dirt creature, after hours of hand cleaning each part and a little light media blasting it was resurrected and is now taking quarters as fast as they can be put into the machine!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nation’s Attic Facebook Page

Nation's Attic Facebook Page Image
BIG NEWS! 

Well, the time has come that Don and I have joined the 21st Century with a business Facebook account.   Our Facebook page can be found at the following link.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nations-Attic/147926491984899

Our goal is to keep our customers updated and informed between this blog, our new Facebook page and our website at www.nationsattic.com with our daily business adventures.

When you have some time, please check out our new Facebook page.  Thank you so much!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Which is cooler – Frank Sinatra or the Jennings Sun Chief machines? by Don Creekmore

Danny Ocean Getting Ready To Rob A Casino Full Of Jennings Sun Chief Machines!

Recently we ran across a great vintage CBS Television press release photo for the original Ocean’s 11 movie with Frank Sinatra. What makes this photo so cool is that he is standing in front of what appears to be the Flamingo casino with a whole slew of Jennings Sun Chief light-up slot machines!
The original Ocean’s 11 movie has some great scenes of the casino’s and their interiors. It’s actually fairly hard to find vintage interior photographs of Las Vegas casinos. The reason being is the same as it is today, the casinos don’t want people taking photographs inside the casino floor for security reasons.
During the 1950’s and early 1960’s the Jennings Sun Chief was the primary type of machine used in the casinos. Jennings made a number of sub-models of the Sun Chief and would install different color light panels on the lower front as well. These panels would come in red, green, orange, clear and even blue.
The top sign was also customized by the casino’s to give the machines a more unique appearance to that specific location. While not common, these original casino’s Jennings Sun Chief signs can still be found on occasion from places like the Flamingo, The Sands, Desert Inn, Riviera, Sahara and Hacienda.  
A super rare example is the double Jennings slot machine sitting to the left of Frank. These machines were used on the end caps of a bank of machines. Also rarely found today is the extra top sign mounted to some Jennings machines. These signs would simply add a little more pizazz and were sometimes lighted. If you find a Sun Chief with holes plugged up at the very top, there is a good chance a sign like the one just behind Frank’s left shoulder was mounted to it.
As a full time antique slot machine dealer it’s sometimes easy to forget that these machines originally operated in some fantastic locations around the world. In most cases the history of the machine is lost, but on occasion a machine will turn up with just enough clues to let us know where it came from and possibly who could have played it – like Danny Ocean himself!  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mills DEWEY Floor Machine – Restoration Part 1 by Jenny Creekmore

Mills Two Bits Dewey Upright Slot Machine

Well, the time has come…  My husband and I are finally adding a Mills DEWEY Floor Machine to our collection.  Granted, it is in desperate need of a full restoration, but I am pleased it is ours and will eventually get to come to our home. 
I thought this might be a great blog topic.  As we proceed with the restoration, Don and I will both be posting updates on our progress.  I think it is going to be quite an extraordinary journey and I thought you might like to be included.  I really am excited to bring such a phenomenal machine back to its original glory.  With that being said, there is certainly a lot of work that needs to be completed. 
This particular machine was literally SAVED!  The family that we purchased the Mills DEWEY from had quite the story tied to the machine.  Apparently in the 1940’s, the family went to the local dump or landfill in the Pocono Mountains.  They noticed the Mills DEWEY machine had been brought to the landfill and it had been discarded as trash or garbage.  Oh my, right?
After the family got rid of their haul, they decided to load up the Mills DEWEY floor machine and take it home.  They got the machine home and surprisingly it functioned.  No one knows how long this marvelous machine had been sitting outside and enduring the elements of the Pocono Mountains.  It really makes you wonder just how many of these upright floor machines were dumped, because at the time they were viewed as obsolete and outdated.  If the slot machine operators only knew this would become a treasure….
The family kept the Mills DEWEY in the upstairs of their home until the 1950’s.  At that time, the slot machine was moved to the basement and left until just recently. 

Our Chicago-made Mills Novelty Company DEWEY is also known as the Admiral.  Don will post some historical information in a future blog about why the machine is also referred to as the Mills Admiral DEWEY floor machine. 
Please stay tuned as we make progress on our newest personal slot machine addition.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Jennings Butterfly Revamp by Jenny Creekmore


I had the privilege and opportunity to restore a JenningsButterfly Revamp slot machine.  When the slot machine arrived in our shop, I unpacked the antique machine and I instantly fell in love.  At that time, I had never seen one of these beautiful slot machines before.  The lower front casting looks very similar to the lower front casting of a Mills Poinsettia slot machine.  However, this revamp machine added a butterfly and a sunrise image.  In my opinion, it really is spectacular and quite detailed. 
Of course, directly after unpacking the slot machine, I quickly found my husband Don Creekmore.  I wanted to know everything about this machine.  I found it to be very interesting that the machine looked extremely similar to the Mills Poinsettia machine.  Almost like a copy, but with some new casting enhancements. 

Don informed me that it was indeed an O.D. Jennings slot machine and was originally an Operator Bell.  However, the machine had been revamped or modified by another company called PNC.  PNC probably made the modifications to this slot machine around 1930. 
So why would an O.D. Jennings Operator Bell need to be modified?  At least that was my question. 

When the slot machine was originally sold, it did not have a jackpot.  The jackpot feature is something that became available after this particular machine was manufactured. 

With the relatively large number of non-jackpot slot machines on the market, smaller companies, such as PNC, would buy these used slot machines.  These smaller companies would then make a new lower casting which would include a physical jackpot.  Often, they would mimic or copy other slot machines that were popular.   As in this case, the Mills Poinsettia lower front casting was mimicked.  Along with the smaller companies, Pace Manufacturing of Chicago IL made similar looking castings to revamp Mills and O.D. Jennings machines.  These companies would then resell the slot machine as a ‘revamp’ jackpot model.  To the best of my knowledge, this practice occurred from around 1928 to 1932.  By the early 1930’s all factory new slot machines contained the jackpot feature. 
I think the O.D. Jennings Butterfly Revamp slot machine is absolutely gorgeous and historically very interesting.  I would love to add one to our collection.  If you have one and are interested in selling your antique slot machine, please give me a call at 316-371-1828.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Antique Slot Machines We Are Always Looking To Buy!

During the course of any week we get numerous requests for all kinds of vintage slot machines.  Sometimes we are lucky enough to find the machine in a week or so, but sometimes it can take years! Starting in 2012 we have started to keep a more detailed database of peoples request. So, if there is something special you have been searching for and would like to be added to our contact list, please email or call us.
So what are some of the types of machines we have clients looking for?
Watling Rol-A-Top Slot Machine
Watling Treasury Slot Machine
We currently have a strong need for any type of Watling Rol-A-Top or Rol-A-Tor slot machines. Watling made quite a few different variations of the famous Rol-A-Top from the early 1930’s to the early 1950’s. The Rol-A-Top came in penny through half dollar play and we are interested in them all. Watling also made a machine called the Treasury which is similar to the Rol-A-Top.  The Treasury is another machine we are looking for. Any upright or cast iron Watling machine manufactured from the 1880’s to 1920’s is also high on our want list!
Superior Confections Slot Machine
Superior Mystery Slot Machine
The next manufacturer is one that many people are not that familiar with, Superior Confections. Based out of Ohio during the 1930’s this company made a number of great looking slot machines and trade stimulators. If you have any machine with the Superior Confections name on it, please let us know!
Jennings Century Slot Machine

Jennings Prospector / Monte Carlo

Jennings Victoria A / Witch or Black Cat
O.D. Jennings made lots of different slot machines from the teens into the 1960’s. We are immediate buyers for the following O.D. Jennings models, the Witch, Chief, Tri-Plex, Buckaroo, Prospector, Monty Carlo, Sweepstakes, Baseball, Golf Ball, Golf-a-Rola,  Peacock, Century, Sun Chief and Airplane. Any Jennings machine in a tall cabinet is always something we are strong buyers on as well!
Caille Naked Lady Slot Machine

Caille The Operators Bell
Caille Brothers of Detroit, MI made some magnificent machines from the 1880’s into the 1930’s. We are strong buyers of ANY machine made by this company up until the 1920’s. Any upright Caille in a tall oak cabinet is something we can offer a lot of money for! If the machine is small or sits on a counter top and has a single or double wheel or dice associated with it, we can make you an aggressive offer for it! Any Caille machine that says Liberty Bell or Operator Bell is greatly wanted. If the Caille machine has images of a woman or two women, we are also strong buyers!
Pace Kitty

Pace Races Horse Race Slot Machine

Pace Royal Comet
Pace Manufacturing was a great company that made machines during the 1920’s until the 1960’s. Their peak probably occurred during the late 1940’s and 1950’s but our primary area of interest is machines with the names Kitty or Royal Comet. Pace also made a golf ball machine and a horse race machine call Paces Races.   We have clients who are waiting for these wonderful machines.
Mills Novelty Baseball Slot

Mills Novelty Dewey Double Upright

Mills Novelty Futurity Slot Machine

Mills Novelty Golf Ball Vender Slot
Mills Novelty of Chicago, IL was the largest maker of coin operated machines during the early and mid 20th Century. Any Mills machine in a tall oak cabinet with a single, double or triple wheel is wanted. Mills Liberty Bell and Operator Bell machines are also greatly desired! Any Mills machine that is cast iron that was made before 1920 is in high demand. Mills made so many great machines it’s hard to list them all. Specifically a dice machine from the 1930’s is needed, Mills Baseball and golf ball machines are also in high demand. Un-restored Mills Roman Head, Lion Front and War Eagle’s are also needed. The Mills Futurity and any Mills machine that has the Bonus feature is needed. Rounding out the list, any QT machine is something we would like as well.
Chas Fey Liberty Bell Slot Machine
Other machines top on our list are anything made by Fey, specifically the Fey Liberty Bell. Watling, Caille and Mills roulette machines are also something we can pay a substantial amount of money for. This will hopefully give you a great idea of what the Nation’s Attic and our customer’s desire.  While I’m sure we are forgetting some key machines, this is just a general list.  Please feel free to call 316-371-1828 or email slots@nationsattic.com anytime.