If you have a trade stimulator from the 1940's, an American Eagle, Groetchen Liberty, Marvel, Ex Ray, Jiffy, etc., you know that they all dispence a token when you get three of a kind. Over the years, many different coin machine tokens were made...so many different ones that it would be impossible for you to have one of each.
The 1940's trade stimulator tokens ere generally imprinted with the machine's name and/or the amount of the award, i.e., one pack of cigarettes, 2 packs, 5 packs, or 10 packs.
Tokens go back to early days of coin machines in the late 1800's. Back then, manufacturers not only put their name on it, some also put a picture of their machine right on the token.
Originally tokens were mostly solid. Between the 1920's and '40's, slot machine manufacturers made tokens with a hole in the center. In 1944, it became illegal to manufacture tokens the exact same size as a U.S. coin and tokens were made slightly larger or smaller than a nickel.
Tokens were made for pinball and arcade machines. Some tokens were dispensed by the machine, others were given as payment when you received a high score playing a game such as skeeball. Sometimes arcade owners gave you tokens rather than coins when changing a dollar bill . . . . in order to encourage you to play your tokens rather than leave and spend your change elsewhere.
The most valuable tokens have the name of the machine, manufacturer or amusement place imprinted on it. Less valuable or amusement place imprinted on it. Less valuable ones generally have a less specific imprint such as "good for one game" or awarded for skill" imprinted on it.
In the early days of slot machine collecting, when the legality of owning an antique slot was unclear, many collectors would use only tokens in their machines rather than coins. Today some collectors still do that. As a result, tokens that are the exact size of a nickel , dime, or quarter are generally more valuable than odd size tokens.
An imprinted token that goes with a specific machine can cost many dollars a piece. A rare turn-of-the-century token can be as valuable as a rare coin. On the other hand, some non-descript tokens are still readily available and sell for a penny a piece.
If you are interested in amusement tokens, then you may want to get a copy of Stephen Alpert's out-of-print book Amusement Tokens of the United States and Canada which catalogs, identifies and values thousands of different tokens.
For a list of books on arcade machines, go to GameRoomAntiques Bookstore
For a list of sport-related arcade machines for sale, got to: Arcade Machine Sales List
Copyright: 2009 Ken Durham, GameRoomAntiques
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