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Pinball Machines

Pinball has its origins in the French game of Bagatelle. Played on a narrow table with an incline, a player used a miniature pool stick to shoot a ball up a channel set on the side of the board. The ball would then drop through a series of pins until it landed in a scoring pocket at the bottom of the board. The game of Bagatelle underwent a few revisions in the 1800s that made it look more like pinball, including a spring operated ball shooter and a coin operated version.

In 1931, the first coin operated pinball machine was produced by Automatic Industries. This was a game called "Whiffle Board." A few years later, Raymond Maloney, founder of the Bally Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois, invented a game called "Ballyhoo." It was about this time that the term "pinball" began to be used for these games.

Pinball grew in popularity after World War II, especially after flippers were added to the Humpty Dumpty pinball game in 1947 by the D. Gottlieb Company. Pinball was at the height of its popularity during the late 1940s and 1950s. Interest peaked again in the 1970s when solid state pinball machines were introduced. Pinball remained popular until the mid 1990s, when video games eclipsed pinball as the major arcade attraction.


Quick Facts

  • Harry Williams, founder of the Williams Manufacturing Company, responded to players' attempts to cheat at pinball by lifting the machines. In 1935, he invented the "tilt" mechanism to prevent cheating
  • Pinball was outlawed in many areas of the United States in the mid 1940s. People perceived pinball to be a game of chance, and therefore a form of gambling, which was illegal at the time
  • The rarest pinball machine is Bally's "Pinball Circus" from 1994. Only two of these machines exist – one in a private collection and the other at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada

Recommended Items at Auction

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VINTAGE ROCKET PINBALL MACHINE
Oct 06, 9:00 AM PDT
VINTAGE ROCKET PINBALL MACHINE
by Abell Auction
Est: $300- $500
$3505 Bids
Addams Family Pinball Machine by Bally/Midway
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Addams Family Pinball Machine by Bally/Midway
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $4,000- $6,000
$2,6003 Bids
Funhouse Pinball Machine by Williams
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Funhouse Pinball Machine by Williams
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $3,000- $4,000
$1,5001 Bid
Roller Coaster Tycoon Pinball Machine by Stern
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Roller Coaster Tycoon Pinball Machine by Stern
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0001 Bid
Flintstones Pinball Machine by Williams
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Flintstones Pinball Machine by Williams
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $3,000- $5,000
$1,5001 Bid
1977 Star Explorer Pinball by Sentinal
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
1977 Star Explorer Pinball by Sentinal
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
Slug Fest Pinball Machine by Williams
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Slug Fest Pinball Machine by Williams
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $800- $1,200
$4001 Bid
Two pinball machine playboards,
Oct 25, 9:30 AM BST
Two pinball machine playboards,
by Sworders
Est: £200- £300
£1600 Bids
Wido 1977 Big Top Pinball Machine
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Wido 1977 Big Top Pinball Machine
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Nascar Pinball Machine by Stern
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Nascar Pinball Machine by Stern
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,0000 Bids
Atomic arcade pin ball game
Oct 09, 11:30 PM EDT
Atomic arcade pin ball game
by Baker's Antiques and Auctions
Est: $80- $100
$500 Bids
8/29/1933 PAT. DOUBLE POSH UP, PIN BALL 18" X 11 1/2"
Oct 15, 1:00 AM EDT
8/29/1933 PAT. DOUBLE POSH UP, PIN BALL 18" X 11 1/2"
by Auction by Daum
Est: $40- $100
$300 Bids
Riverboat Gambler Pinball Machine by Williams
Oct 09, 12:00 PM EDT
Riverboat Gambler Pinball Machine by Williams
by Main Auction Galleries
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Pinball Machines


Main Auction Galleries

Main Auction Galleries

Abell Auction

Abell Auction

Sworders

Sworders

Auction by Daum

Auction by Daum