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Silver King

Automat Games, c. 1938 (becoming Automatic Games in 1939, and then Silver King Corp. in 1945), 14". The Silver King is, in general, a common machine, although some specific versions are uncommon. All versions had a simple mechanism that required the customer to insert a coin and then swing a lever to the left.

The Silver King line started with a pre-war version like the yellow example above left. It's a solid, heavy model made of painted or (in this case) porcelainized cast iron. Production stopped during WWII, and after the war the machine appeared from the newly renamed Silver King Corp. as the aluminum version above right. As far as I can tell, the 2 versions differ only in the material from which they were made, some small differences in ornamentation of the base, and the gate. The cast iron examples I've seen have all taken a penny, but I've seen penny and nickel versions of the aluminum version. I don't know if parts are interchangable between these versions.

The pre-war cast iron version is much less common than the later aluminum version, which is fairly common (not that your next door neighbor probably has one). For the cast iron version, porcelainized examples seem to be much less common than painted examples (and most painted cast iron machines have been repainted). Among the porcelain colors I've seen are green (the same shade as that used for a Columbus 21 and other Columbus and Northwestern models), black, yellow, orange, and white. You can see a line-up here, and one that its owner calls "turquoise" here. Other colors may exist, but I can't recall seeing any.

This is the second porcelainized example I've had, but I foolishly gave up the first one. I found it in a Garden Grove, CA, antique store that had only furniture except for 2 old vending machines on a table against the back wall. I didn't see them right away, and I remember thinking as I walked into the store, well, this place isn't gonna have what I want. Wrong! One machine was a red Northwestern 33 Peanut, the other was a green porcelain Silver King. I wanted the Silver King, but at the time I had a deal with my wife---she'd let me spread machines throughout the house, and I wouldn't buy anything that color because she hated it. So I called my friend Dan and asked if he wanted it. He said "yes," as anyone with any sense would say, so I bought it and passed it to him next time I saw him. In retrospect I should have bought it and tucked it away until I could convince my wife that just one machine of that color wouldn't be so bad, but I wasn't thinking long term back then. I've since learned, but still.....

Two musical versions exist, both of them variations of the post-war aluminum machine. One has a ballerina in a plastic case atop the lid, and when a portion is vended the ballerina spins and music plays from inside the machine. You can see a picture here, a close-up of the ballerina here, and an even closer close-up here. The other version plays music when a portion is vended, but it doesn't have the ballerina. This latter version looks exactly like the common aluminum version except for musical notes on the decal. Both of these are quite scarce.

Lastly, there's the one-of-a-kind Candy here and here. That's her name and her game, and she's one of Dan's favorites. I don't know her history with full certainty, but I do know it was love at first sight. I think Dan rescued her from an old boyfriend who used to feed her slugs and laugh when she jammed. She's a hardbody, as you can see.

The cast iron example top left is 100% original. The example top right has been nicely restored.

Thanks to Dan Davids for the extra Silver King pictures.

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