1930s Watling Three-Reel 5-cent
Slot Machine Hits the Jackpot
– A mid-1930s Watling three-reel 5-cent
slot machine sold for $3,250 and an 1871 general and business directory
for the residents of four counties in Nevada realized $2,875 at an
Americana, Railroad, Mining & More Auction held across four days, May
7th-10th, by Holabird Western Americana Collections, online and in the
firm’s gallery at 3555 Airway Drive in Reno.
The Watling slot machine was the auction’s top-selling lot, not
surprising considering the Rol-a-Top is one of the most attractive
three-reel slots ever made and a favorite among collectors. This one was
in original condition, with the original paint and original lock and
key. The replacement reels even had the old “fortunes” over the symbols,
to try and skirt the gaming laws of the ‘30s.
The auction was a massive event, with nearly 3,000 lots coming up for
bid over four days. In addition to the Americana, railroad and mining
collectibles, there were also Native Americana, cowboy and Western
memorabilia, numismatics, tokens, soda and medicine bottles, and antique
woodworking tools in their original wooden chests.
Native American art pots and jewelry, certain advertising collectibles
and ephemera, including antique stock certificates, did especially well.
Highlights from the on-site/online auction included a unique 6½-
inch-tall silver chalice from Virginia City, Nevada, stamped on the
bottom “M.M. Frederick,” a watchmaker and jeweler in the city at the
time, made in the 1870s, which fetched $2,125. A clear druggist’s dose
glass from A.M. Cole also of Virginia City, produced between 1905-1906
and one of only six specimens known in perfect condition, gaveled for
An 1861 Nevada Territorial stock certificate #32 for the Philadelphia
Mining Company of Virginia City, issued to John Pullen, with one share
equaling five feet, signed by officers in the company, rose to $1,125;
while an Orleans Flat Silver Mining Company stock certificate from the
Nevada Territory of Virginia City, dated 1864, issued to a Pyramid Lake
War survivor, finished at $938.
A group of ten vintage Hamilton pocket watches, all open face, sold as
one lot for $1,125. Two were Railway Special, gold plated. Three were
Art Deco, 14kt gold; and several were gold-plated. Two included chains.
A collection of 75 Lake Tahoe, California, postcards, 16 of them real photo
cards and depicting such landmarks as Twin Lake Resort, Frashers, Meeks
Bay cabins, Cal-Neva Lodge and Emerald Bay brought $688; while a letter
from the office of T.C. Power & Bro., Freighters and Forwarding
Merchants, Military and Indian Traders, addressed to post trader J.H.
McKnight & Co. at Fort Shaw, Montana, dated March 26, 1876, finished at
$532. Also, a rare 1870s-era Crockwell photo of a small mill in the
upper part of Six Mile Canyon in Virginia City, Nevada, realized $688.
A bottle for Chas. M. Fassitt---“Druggist/Ruby Hill/Nev," in mint
condition, with upside-down writing on the base, a rare ghost town
bottle since Ruby Hill no longer exists, coasted to $1,563. Also, a pair
of N.P. Sorensen Seltzer bottles, made in Austria circa
1890s-1914, brilliant 7-Up green in color and boasting perfect debossing
in both, changed hands for $1,438.
A group of five Viola Morris corn husk bags, woven with geometric yarn
designs and made in Idaho, beautifully crafted and boasting unique
designs on each side, sold as one lot for $938. Also, a complimentary
season pass for Boone’s Wild Animal Arena at the California Mid-Winter
International Exposition of 1894 in San Francisco, issued to the editor of
the Reno Gazette, hit $563.
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