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1930s Watling Three-Reel 5-cent
Slot Machine Hits the Jackpot


RENO, Nev. – 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 $1,281.

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.

Learn more about Holabird Western Americana or contact them by Email.

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