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United Tropicana Pinball Machine

Backglass of United Tropicana Pinball Machine, 1948. Lot #12, Silverman Collection via Morphy’s Auctions. Estimate $2,000-$2,500

In 2011, ATZ’s feature for Games Magazine on places where you can play vintage pinball year round included the then-new National Pinball Museum in Washington D.C. The museum showcased some of the more than 800 games from founder David Silverman’s 35-year collection, including a 19th century pinball precursor, vintage woodrail games and modern, solid-state machines.

The museum, which later moved to Baltimore, closed its doors after losing its lease again last year. In August, Silverman told the Baltimore Sun that without investors coming to his rescue or a reasonable long-term lease, he’d have to sell off his pinball machines. Silverman’s collection is now up for auction in a series of sales at Morphy’s Auctions starting with a February 21 sale that includes 75 machines. Pre-sale estimates range from $600 to $3,500.

Bank a Ball Pinball Machine

Backglass of Gottlieb Bank a Ball Pinball Machine, 1950. Lot #13, Silverman Collection via Morphy’s Auctions. Estimate $2,500-$3,000

Highlights within the introductory grouping include Lot 13, a 1950 Gottlieb Bank A Ball, with a $2,500-$3,000 estimate; Lot 15, a Gottlieb Sittin Pretty, $2,500-$3,000; Lot 17, a Gottlieb Knock-Out, $3,000-$5,000; and Lot 66, a Bally Revenge From Mars, $3,000-$3,500. Online bidding is available via the Pennsylvania auction house’s website and live auctioneers.

Coronation Pinball Machine

Backglass of Gottlieb Coronation Pinball Machine, 1952. Lot #18, Silverman Collection via Morphy’s Auctions. Estimate $2,000-$3000

Some of the games took their inspiration from historical events such as a 1952 Gottlieb Coronation Pinball Machine released in anticipation of the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II which took place on June 2, 1953.

Pop culture phenoms also gave birth to pinball machines. The TV show “I Love Lucy” became the 1954 Lovely Lucy Pinball Machine. Both Coronation and Lovely Lucy feature original backglass and playfield art by Leroy Parker, whose work emblazoned Gottlieb machines for more than 30 years.

On the 50th anniversary of the Beatles, let’s not forget Williams Beat Time Pinball Machine (1967), a Beatles-themed game that was called the Bootles due to copyright laws. Yeah, yeah, yeah!

UPDATE April 26, 2014:

Day two of Morphy’s April 26-27 auction will open with the company’s second offering of pinball machines from the 35-year David Silverman collection, previously displayed at the National Pinball Museum. Film-related machines lead the grouping, with a 1993 Williams “Indiana Jones” pinball estimated at $6,500-$7,500; and a 1992 “Creature from the Black Lagoon” with fantastic artwork by Kevin O’Connor, expected to reach $4,500-$6,000. Other notable lots include two Gottlieb pinball machines: a rare, low-production 1950s “Buffalo Bill,” $2,000-$2,500; and a 1952 “All-Star Basketball,” $1,500-$2,000. Bidding is available online via Live Auctioneers.

Beat Time Pinball Machine

Backglass of Williams Beatles-themed Beat Time Pinball Machine, 1967. Lot #35, Silverman Collection via Morphy’s Auctions. Estimate $1,000-$1,500

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