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Monday, May 17, 2010


Speaking of museums of niche interest, while I was connecting at SFO twice last month or saw I beheld the tools of early automated illegal gambling - aka slot machines.

Let me say I detest casinos. They suck. Name anything about them, it sucks even if it's like, say R.E.M. playing the Borgata - they then suck, and so on....

But these early gambling appliances were fascinating- ingenious in their configuration, metalcraft, and design. And next time I'm back on the left coast (which is quite often now) I'm goin' to Big Joe Welch's American Antique Slot Machine Museum, in San Bruno, where 90% of these came from and somewhat fittingly, does not have a website.

Artist Josh Ellingson has taken quite a few better photos than I of some of the machines, mainly because I used my cell phone, so tough.

I was particularly worked up about the art on the punch boards - a form of gambling apparently still in use legally in Washington State in the form of "Pull Tabs"


Johnnyuma said...

Nice. I used to love the punch boards. Have fond memories of Saturday afternoons in the local saloon with my dad - poking these things out and winning armfuls of nickel and quarters.

Busplunge said...

Punch boards were featured in the George C. Scott movie "The Flim-Flam Man."

S said...

Very cool - I got to see that exhibit, too - was disappointed that it was only accessible to ticketed passengers, but too lazy to gripe about that to my friend at the airport museum.

Speaking of which, I highly recommend checking it out if you have time to kill at SFO. The Museum is in the international terminal, without much signage, and has a huge collection of airline ephemera, most of which never makes it out into the displays in the terminals. The facility is retro and lovely. http://www.sfoarts.org/about/alm.html

Somehow I think this would appeal to y'all: http://www.sfoarts.org/exhibits/k5/k5-current.html (link current as of May 2010 - likely to become invalid once exhibit is over, but it's for an exhibit of the Museum's "collection of vinyl records and colorful cover art presents a legacy of music shared by the airlines and the recording industry before the digital age of the compact disc (CD) and MP3 technology").