VINTAGE COIN MACHINE
by Dick Bueschel
Okay, you've got a coin machine. You found it in the barn of a farm you bought, or it's been in the family since Grandpa, or maybe in was in the basement of an old home or you couldn't resist it at an auction and picked it up for two hundred dollars. So what's it really worth?
Not an easy answer. It depends on a lot of things. Quite a few people have tried to come to grips with the variables of vintage coin-op values, and some of the systems have been quite good. But they fall down when you try to cross disciplines. The pricing policies for slot machines rarely apply to coin-operated scales or arcade machines, and jukeboxes seem to have a pricing profile all their own.
Then there is the question of what value is being sought. Is it a retail selling price, or a wholesale or auction buying price, an insurance replacement cost or estate evaluation? They are all different even though you are pricing the same machine. The differences are based on what people are willing to pay, or have to pay, depending on the situation. The retail price is what a dealer is asking for a machine, usually in a shop or a mall, with the machine cleaned up, repaired and guaranteed to operate, and the dealer standing behind it.
However, if you are selling a machine as-is for the money expect to get about half the book value because your buyer is probably a reseller and needs to clean it up and market it for retail sale. In case of insurance estimates we are talking about the replacement cost, and unless an insurance company is willing to shop around for a better price (which they aren't as their time is more valuable than that) that's what they'll have to pay to get the machine right away to settle a claim, if not a little more.
A similar mode is generally followed for estate evaluation, but the inheritors would be better served if the wholesale half-value were used as that is what they can usually expect to get for their machines. So if you see a lot of different prices quoted for the same machine, try and find out in what context these values are given for they may all be on the mark for the situation at hand.
Copyright: Richard M. Bueschel, 1996
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