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In 1948 the President of the Exhibit Supply Company, one of the leading companies in the penny arcade business, explained why the Penny Arcade was such a success. It provides collectors some interesting insights.

Owing to the changes of time, amusements of all kinds come and go but there are a few which are here to stay and the Penny Arcade is one of them. The theatre was given to us by the ancient Greeks; the first movies were produced about 1907 and were known under various names such as "Flickers", "Nicolodians", "Jitneys" and many other names until they settled down to the name of moving pictures.

The Penny arcade came to life about 1898 and has been known under names such as Edisonias, Automatic Vaudevilles, Automatic Dreamlands, One-Eyed-Circus and 1cent Exhibits, until it finally settled down to the name of Penny Arcade which simply describes what it actually is- "A penny walk though." Recently they have tried to modernize the Arcades by referring to them as Sportlands but the good old name, Penny Arcade, seems to still be the favorite...

The public is fickle and has very definite likes and dislikes and the Arcade must be kept up to date and abreast of the times to satisfy the people you cater. To do this the Movie Houses change their films; the Theatres change their plays and the Penny Arcades must change their machines.

There are so many new people who have recently come into the Arcade business that I doubt if any of them ever heard of the first Penny Arcade machine called the Edison Song Machine. These machines were placed in stores and such amusement places were called Edisonias. Then came the illustrated song machine. These machines, placed in stores and places of amusement, were called Automatic Vaudevilles. These machines, along with the blowers, wall punchers, Quortoscopes, Biographs and other picture machines have long been relegated to the historic past and have been replaced by more modern equipment. The disc records and the Radio outmoded song machines just like the movies replaced picture machines...

Penny Arcade Floor Cabinets

I have often been asked why nearly all Exhibit floor model Arcade Machines are built in the same size and style of cabinet - There are many good reasons for this. After years of experience and after having tried many different kinds of cabinets Exhibit has found that our present cabinet is bet suited for the Arcade.

I have never seen a player in a Penny Arcade approach a machine and look at its cabinet before depositing his coin - they don't play the cabinet, they play what's inside the cabinet. The signs on Exhibit machines were to excite the curiosity and inform the player what he could expect for his coin. To satisfy his curiosity, he must play the machine.

There were never more flamboyant cabinets for coin machines that those used by the present manufacturers of music machines. If you think people play machines on account of their cabinets, just watch a player approach a music machine.

He will look at the names of the records offered, make his selection before depositing his coin. The operator of these machines must keep live up-to-date records in his machines to attract and get the play. Of only old out-of date records were used, the machines would never get enough play to pay for themselves. I rightfully maintain that it is not the cabinet, but what is inside the cabinet that gets the play.

Can you remember when the marble tables came out a few years ago? Every manufacturer at first had a different style and kind of table. Today, every manufacturer uses the same table. Why? Because it has been found through experience that the present standardized table has been problem best.

Exhibit floor model Penny Arcade cabinets are the best because they take up very little floor space and et give the maximum in display./ It has flash-public appeal and gets and holds the play over and over again from the people....

The Exhibit Gripper

Most Exhibit machines could be operated by just dropping in a coin but then the player would say to himself that if any other person had dropped in a coin, the machine would have given the same card or the same answer. This would ruin the "take" of the machine. Therefore, on nearly all of the Exhibit machines you will see our famous gripper which sets the machine in motion after the coin is deposited. The gripper makes each player's play an individual operation. To prove this, I simply ask you to watch the people who play our machines. Watch the expressions on their faces; also watch the way they take hold of the gripper-some give it a quick squeeze and other people will hold on until the machine has completed its operation.

Penny arcade customers do not want to waste their time reading directions. Every player is familiar with the Exhibit gripper. They like it. They are used to it. They want it, and that is only one of the features that makes Exhibit machines popular with the public.

The Importance of Card Vendors

Every Penny arcade should have a battery of card machines and I'll prove it. The card vending machine was one of the very first machines made for the Penny Arcade and it is still doing a big business in every arcade while hundreds of other machines have come and gone.

Almost every machine you buy for the Arcade does just one certain thing and when the public gets tired of playing it, there is only one certain thing you can do with it-get rid of it. With the card machine it is different. If the playing public get tired of the kind of crds being vended from the machine, all the owner has to do is put in a new front sign and new cards inside of the machine and he has a brand new machine.

That is why the card machine takes a new lease on life. Every year the Exhibit spends a fortune getting up new attractive series of cards and signs for their machines. Card machines will be here long after many other machines are dead and forgotten. Inborn in every human being is the instinct to get something for his money. The card vender satisfies this desire, besides it creates amusement and good will among the players...

Exhibit cards are collected consecutively in series from 32 to 192, which means that a player might play this machine nearly every day for a year and get a different card each time...


It is the policy of this Company to build bigger and better machines for the Arcades and to keep al our cards up to date at all times. We assure you we will be able to do this because we have always been out in front with the new amusement machines and to prove it, let us remind you that Exhibit was the first Company that invented and used the electric eye in the Ray Gun. We also invented and made the first Console type machine and many others. The so-called marble table came from a combination of Exhibit's five ball shooter and the old Bagatelle board.

Today Exhibit is making a larger variety of Penny Arcade machines than anyone else in the world and when there is anything good that's new, we are sure Exhibit will be able to offer it to you for the good of the Arcade business and to help perpetuate it as one of the few clean standard amusements of today.


Copyright: 2006 Ken Durham.





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Ken Durham
3000 Galloway Ridge, C-306
Pittsboro NC 27312
For Orders Only: 202-213-1585
All others, please email: durham@GameRoomAntiques.com