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Posts Tagged ‘Gottlieb’

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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Punchy the Clown by Alvin G & Co

Punchy the Clown Pinball Machine, detail of lit playfield. Modern Pinball NYC. November 30, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

Last weekend at a birthday party at Modern Pinball NYC, Manhattan’s new mecca for pinball, one of the games we enjoyed playing was Punchy the Clown. It’s smaller than the other machines and has a decidedly retro look, calling to mind vintage pinball machines by Gottlieb. “Alvin G. and Co” is emblazoned on the backglass. ATZ asked Modern Pinball co-owner Steve Epstein how old it was and who made it.

It turns out Punchy was manufactured in 1993 and is the most expensive pinball machine at Modern Pinball’s interactive showroom, with a sales price of $24,995 due to rarity, Epstein says. By comparison, you can buy the sleek, full-size games at Modern such as Dr Dude, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Wizard of Oz and Batman for $5,995-$10,995.

Punchy the Clown by Alvin G. & Co.

Lit backglass of Punchy the Clown Pinball Machine at Modern Pinball NYC. November 30, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

“Alvin G.” is Alvin Gottlieb, whose family established D. Gottlieb & Co. Pinball in Chicago in 1927 and sold the business in the 1970s. “In 1991, Alvin Gottlieb and Michael Gottlieb went back into the pinball machine business,” says Epstein. Since the company folded after releasing only five titles, one of which was the 1993 Punchy the Clown, the machine is rare.

On the Internet Pinball Database, only one player has rated it, which is an indication of its rarity. He gave it a 9 out of 10. There’s also an original promo flyer for the game: “Punchy holds your ticket to a carnival of earnings.” The “Mini-pin™ configuration” featured an adjustable leg height for children and adults. It was designed as a redemption game for kids. Only 103 units were produced.

When Alvin Gottlieb, 86, died in October, fans paid tribute on pinball discussion boards. “I’ll play a game on each of my Gottliebs today in his honor. RIP,” one commenter said, echoing the sentiments of many who grew up playing pinball.

As previously noted (“Modern Pinball NYC Opens with New Arcade Business Model,” ATZ, November 15, 2013), players buy time– $7.50 for a half hour, $10 for an hour, and $20 to play all day– in the pinball showroom, which has 31 games. Located on Third Avenue between 26th and 27th Streets, Modern Pinball is open 7 days a week from 11AM to midnight, with later hours on weekends.

Punchy the Clown

Punchy the Clown Pinball Machine at Modern Pinball NYC. November 30, 2013. Photo © Tricia Vita

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pinball

Playing Flipper Parade at Silver Ball Museum Arcade and Pinball Hall of Fame, Asbury Park Boardwalk. Photo © Tricia Vita

Back in May, I visited Asbury Park on assignment for Games Magazine to write a feature on the Silver Ball Museum Arcade and Pinball Hall of Fame. This year-round mecca for pinball wizards and wannabes is a great day trip via NJ Transit from Penn Station. A $20 wristband lets you play all day. Silver Ball is quite a playground, with 200 lovingly restored machines from the electromechanical wonders of the 1930s and ’40s up to the solid state electronic games of today. The little boy in the photo is playing Gottlieb’s Flipper Parade, a 1961 add-a-ball game featuring pop bumpers, slingshots, gobble holes and an animated cannon that fires a ball when a free shot is made. My article on Silver Ball and other places where you can play vintage pinball year round is published in the October 2011 issue of Games (on sale through September 12).

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