by Dr. Lori Verderame

Slot machines were initially introduced in the 1700s, but they were used to sell products like gum, matches, cigars, etc. by the 1800s. Some machines were produced in order to get people to take out their wallets and spend money, that is to stimulate trade. Other slot machines were made strictly for entertainment purposes or for gambling. Today, these slot machines–both antique and contemporary–continue to be used worldwide and enjoyed.

Slot machines are just what their name says they are. Slot machines accept a coin through a slot and the coin causes a mechanism to react. The mechanism may release a product or react in some other way. Stores, hotels, bars, and other establishments would have them installed for the benefit of their customers and more importantly, to positively impact the owner’s bottom line. Today, coin operated machines, trade stimulators, and slot machine games from bygone days are rare and valuable.

What to Look For

Slot machines in good, working condition are quite collectible. Antique (more than 100 years old) or vintage (less than 100 years old) slot machines with original cabinetry in solid hardwoods are desirable.

In the early 1900s, slot machine manufacturers like Mills, Watling, and Pace–all out of Chicago, Il–competed for business with the Detroit-based firm of Caille Bros. Manufacturing Company. Caille Bros. produced hundreds of slot machines starting as far back as the late 1800s. While Caille Bros. produced slot machines of the highest quality and design in their day, the brothers/owners Adolph and Arthur Caille would not remain in business together long. A heart attack took the life of 48 year old Arthur Caille in 1916.

Caille Bros. slot machines are bought and sold widely on the antiques market and many of these particular slot machines command as much as a few thousand to a few hundred thousand dollars from collectors depending on model, condition, and other factors. Today, early Caille Bros. machines, those dating from the late 1800s to about 1915 are widely collected and most desirable.

Many of the Art Deco model machines of the 1920s and 1930s were produced in collaboration with others and are of special interest to collectors, too. Adolph Caille continued in the slot machine business, even partnering with his son for a short time, until his death in 1937.

Get an online appraisal of your Caille Bros. slot machine from Dr. Lori