The most common three reel cast aluminum trade stimulators on the market today are the Ball Gum and the Cent-A-Pack, made by the Buckley Manufacturing Company in the mid-1930's.
These trade stimulators have a classic art deco design on the front and sides. It also dispenses a ball gum and has a window in the front that shows the gum balls. The Ball Gum had fruit reel strips and the Cent-A-Pack had cigarette reel strips.
The Ball gum and Cent-A-Pack were sold in several finishes and colors. The most common version was unpainted with the highlights of the art deco design polished. They were also available in a variety of colored paints, most of them in non-descript colors, such as gray, tan, or olive.
The words Ball Gum were cast into the marque. To make the Cent-A-Pack version, Buckley attached a painted metal plate on the marque to hide the words Ball Gum.
A third version of this trade stimulator featured a jackpot vendor that was placed on top of the award card.
These three reel trade stimulators were just the smaller version of Buckley's 1933 "Pilgrim", a five reel trade stimulator that featured playing cards.
The word "Pilgrim" along with playing card suit symbols (a heart, a club, a spade, and a diamond) was cast into the marque. In most other respects the "Ball gum" was virtually identical to the "Pilgrim".
After a couple of years of success, Buckley needed to add a new model to his line. Rather than design a new machine, in 1937 Buckley took the castings from the Pilgrim, put in four reels rather than five, and attached a painted metal name play over the words Pilgrim. The new name of the machine was Alwin. It featured three fruit reels and an odds reel. Finally, Buckley put a jackpot vendor onto the front of the machine.
Another version of this four reel trade stimulator was called Horses. Three of the reels had letters on them and the goal of the game was to match the names of the horses on the award card. The Fourth reel was an odds reel.
With these minor variations, Buckley was able to be successful in a highly competitive market from 1933 to almost the end of the decade.
Copyright: 2006 Ken Durham.
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