In the 1930's, the Exhibit Supply Company developed a coin machine that was a best seller for the next decade. It was a small, 14" x 10" x 5", inexpensive countertop game that many people today call a "flat-top" game. It has a flat top, rather than the rounded top that most three reel trade stimulators have, and you look down at the playing field.
The first flat top game was Sweet Sally which was made in 1933. The concept was simple. Insert a coin, 1(, 5(, 10(, or 25(; push in the coin slide; select a number from 1 to 6 on the selector dial; pull out the coin slide that activates the spinning of the wheel, and see if you are a winner. If you win, the attendant would pay you.
The game has a couple of anti-cheat devices. The first is a tilt device that raised a steel ball onto a platform when you inserted your coin. If you shook or otherwise moved the game to change the dice, the steel ball would fall off the platform and invalidate the game. The other anti-cheat device is attached to the selector. If you move the selector after you played, a pointer would appear over the selector window to invalidate your game.
As was common in the 1930's, the game also gives you a gumball (if you wanted it) every time you played. Above the gumball dispensing chute is a round cast metal disc with a slot in it that allowed you to insert a thin piece of metal or wire to loosen up any gumballs that were jammed or stuck together in the gumball chute.
Sweet Sally was so successful that other manufacturers quickly copied the game and before long there were many variations available. The first flat top dice game was the Exhibit Supply Company's "Select Em". It operated just like the Sweet Sally game but contained four dice rather than a wheel. Originally, the Select Em game came with dice that were imprinted with multi-colored square dots. Later, regular dice were used.
As time went on, the demand for new and different kinds of flat top games increased. To meet the demand, the Exhibit Supply Company came up with new variations by just changing the dice and the paper graphics.
Another popular dice variation was HORSE SHOES. Manufactured in 1935, which was very similar to the SELECT EM. The wood case is lightly different and the dice had different imprints on them. One dice has numbers, the second dice had Win, Place or Show on them. The third dice had the odds. Win 8, Place 4, Show 2. If you selected number 4, and the first dice came up with a four, you would check the second dice to see if your winning dice was a Win, Place or Show; and then you check the third dice to see what your odds were.
To save money, the Exhibit Supply Company soon designed flat top games that didn't have a selector dial. GET A PACK OR TWINS are typical examples of these kinds of machines. They use the same wood case as the selector games, with a cast metal cover inserted in the place where the dial originally was. The GET A PACK game had two numbered dice. If the dice add up to 7, you win one pack of cigarettes; if the dice add up to 11, you win two packs of cigarettes.
As time went on, the case was modified slightly and many variations of dice and award cards were used to give the impression that the machine was new. A typical example of such a machine was BOOSTER. The insides of the machine was the same as GET A Pack. The tilt device is in the same location. The dice has multi colored dots and the award card is a colorful eye-catching design.
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Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques
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