Discover Vintage America - March 2014

Used Pachinko machines find their way to America

Q: My dad recently passed away and we found this strange pinball machine like game down in the basement. I have no idea what it is it is unlike any pinball machine I have ever seen. It has thousands of tiny ball bearing type balls with it which my kids have managed to scatter all over the house. Can you please give me some information on it and let me know if it is valauable? Thank you.

A: I am so very sorry for the loss of your father. What you have is a Japanese Pachinko machine. Based on the photograph it appears to date to the early 1970s. Pachinko is a popular gambling pastime in Japan but instead of coins you win little ball bearing type balls. Pachinko parlors are everywhere over there and if you ever visit one earplugs are a wise choice. The object of the game is to flip the handle, shoot the ball up in to the machine and try to get it in the sweet spot where one can win 10-15 balls. The sweet spot or main attraction as some call is the decoration in the center of the machine. You also want the balls to go in to the slot in the bottom center of the machine instead of down the loops on the outside of the field.

Pachinko machines are relatively common in America as new ones are placed in the pachinko parlors the old ones are often shipped over here. If the lights function and the balls shoot through the game as they are supposed to it would sell for $40-$50. Every now and then I see one in a decorative wood case and these do bring a little more money.

I actually own a pachinko machine, the kids love to play with it and I find it sort of mesmerizing. I feel for you on the game play balls, they do tend to find their way in to every nook and cranny of the house.

 

Indian Vegetable Jaundice Bitters bottle

Q: I have a plum colored "tonic" bottle which reads, "Col Sam Johnson Proprietor, Richmond, VA.
A date perhaps of 1852 "A Lancaster's Indian Vegetable Jaundice Bitters"
This is a corked bottle with 12 flat side panels approximately.3-4 oz in size. In perfect condition, just missing the cork. Any ideas of it's worth/rarity?

A: Your "A. Lancaster's Indian Vegetable Jaundice Bitters" bottle is most likely a reproduction by Wheaton Glass probably made in the 1960s-1970s. It is among the most commonly reproduced bottles by this company and is also made in several Asian companies. Authentic bitters bottles are generally green, clear or brown in color.

As to the current value of your bottle, it would bring $10-$15 in the right market.

 


Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to publisher@discoverypub.com. Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. Her online Q&A column is now active! www.discoverypub.com/ask_michelle