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ANTIQUE
DIGGER MACHINES
FOR SALE


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Exhibit Novelty Merchantman Crane

circa 1930s. Made by the Exhibit Supply Company. The crane is fully working. It has not been restored but it features a new mirror in the background.

Price is $3950 plus shipping

For more information send e-mail
along with your day time phone number
or call Ken on 202-338-1342 (10 am - 9 pm east coast time)

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Additional Arcade Games

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History of the Digger or Iron Claw

The Iron Claw Machine, also known as the Crane and the Digger, is a miniature model of an excavating construction machine. It is still one of the most popular coin operated machines ever made. It combined all of the best features of a coin-op machine into one machine. It was a gambling machine (you could win a prize), it was skill machine, it was a vending machine (frequently the prize was intermingled with peanuts or candy), and it was highly attractive.

It provided the fascination of seeing moving machinery operate, it created a sense of anticipation and excitement as players and viewers alike watched the claw capture a prize and then disappointment if the prize fell out of the claw's grip before depositing it into the chute. The possibility of winning a prize provided the incentive to keep playing. Satisfaction was assured by always giving a player some candy.

Unlike other arcade machines which were popular at the turn of the century, the digger did not come into being until around 1915. The digger reached the height of its popularity during the 1930's. Yet despite its popularity, only 32 different types of diggers were made during the thirties. The manufacturers making the most diggers were the two well known arcade machine specialists, the Exhibit Supply Company and the International Mutoscope Reel Company.

Prior to the 1930s, the iron claws were all mechanical requiring the player to turn two cranks to operate the claw. After the 1920's , the claws were electrified to speed up the play, to lessen the possibility of rough handling, and to make it easier to play. The electrified machines operated as follows:

The person playing the machine first picks out the prize he wants; then he turns the locator wheel to the approximate position (front, center, rear) that he wants the claw to drop. The player then puts a nickel in the slot, which starts the machine. The claw automatically turns to the position chosen, drops down, and grabs a few pieces of candy and sometimes a prize. The claw then raises, swings back over the opening and drops the contents of the claw into the chute. The complete operation takes only ten seconds.

Most iron claws were floor model machines incased in attractive wood cabinets. Traveling carnivals used counter top iron claws and even had specially designed cases that were used to ship the machine and at the same time used as a base for displaying the machine.

For a list of Diggers for Sale, scroll to the top of the page.

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Previous Sold Items

The following items are not long available
Send an email to: durham@GameRoomAntiques.com if you want to be notified if another becomes available:

Chicago Coin Steam Shovel,

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Ken Durham
GameRoomAntiques
909 26 Street NW
Washington DC 20037
For Orders Only: 202-338-1342
All others, please email: durham@GameRoomAntiques.com
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