Mills Upright Slot Machine



Mills

Mills Dewey Upright Glass

In 1897, the company launched the Mills Owl, which was the first mechanical upright cabinet slot machine. The machine's design included a circle of owls perched on a lithographed tin wheel. The machine was a great success and the company would later adopt an owl motif as its trade mark. The Mills Novelty Company would go on to produce a large number of different upright slot machines well into the 20th Century. Starting around 1907 Mills also started producing the Mills Operator Bell. This was a counter top three reel slot machine, one of the first incarnations of the type of slot machine still used today. This extraordinarily rare double upright slot machine was built by the leader of the slot machine movement in Chicago and around the world, the Mills Novelty Company. Manufactured during the golden age of the slot machine in the early 20th century, this exceptional example features the Mills Dewey standing alongside its sister machine, the Mills Chicago. Together, they were the company's top. This auction has some spectacular original upright slot machines being offered and here is another. This early upright slot machine debuted by Mills Novelty Co. The quartered oak cabinet features stunning hand carved accents, ornate castings, glue-chip identification sign, and a brightly colored and richly detailed gaming wheel.


My wife Jenny recently posted a blog about a Mills Deweyupright slot machine that we are restoring.During the restoration process we have ran into a number of interestingdetails about the machine. I thought I would share some of these “finds” aboutthis specific machine and the Mills Novelty Dewey slot machine in general.
In the fall of 1899 Mills Novelty of Chicago, IL introducedtwo 6-way slot machines, one called the Chicago and one the Dewey. Both ofthese machines allowed the player to bet on 6 different colors, hence the name6-way machine. Mills also made the Owl, a 5-way and the Duplex, a 10-way in thelarge floor standing style as well.
It has been said that Mills intended the Dewey to actuallybe named the Puck. A competing company, Caille-Schiemer named a machine thePuck in 1898. This machine for Caille was a 6-way and turned out to be quite successfulfor them. In the tradition of the industry at that time, Mills was simply goingto copy the name for their new 6-way machine. The name Puck was taken from amagazine called the Puck Weekly, which was a popular humor magazine at thetime.
UprightJust as Mills was getting ready to roll their two 6-waymachines out to the market, Admiral George Dewey came back to America inSeptember 1899 as a huge war hero. Capitalizing on his fame Mills decided toname their new machine the Dewey rather than Puck. The admiral’s likeness wouldactually appear on thousands of products during the early 20thCentury. Other slot machine manufactures would also name their own uprightmodels Dewey as well.
The Mills Novelty Dewey turned out to be a greatsales success. Initially the Dewey was only available in 5c play but asproduction went on, Mills made everything from 5c to dollars. Mills Noveltymade the Dewey in a large number of variations from 1899 clear into the 1930’s!Brand new Mills Dewey machines could actually be ordered in late 1932.
MIlls Dewey Inspection Tag
One of the rare but special treats with any slot machine isan inspection tag on the inside indicating when it was made. Many times these piecesof paper came off over time or were covered over with dirt and oil. When thismachine came in we were quite excited to see that the original tag is still present.As shown above, the machine wasinspected on April 16th, 1903, making it 109 years old in a few daysfrom writing this blog. The machines serial number of 11004 is also present inmultiple locations including the tag.

As mentioned earlier, Mills started offering the Dewey innickel though dollar soon after 1899. This particular machine accepts quarters.Rather than simply putting 25c on the coin head, Mills decided to make theDewey machines that accept quarters a little different. As shown directlyabove, the ornate cast iron coin head had Two Bits cast into it.
Mills Dewey Coin Head - Two Bits

Mills Owl Upright Slot Machine

Many people today, over 100 years after this machine wasmade, wouldn’t have a clue what Two Bits means or what the two images on thecenter wheel are. (To be honest, it wasn’t that long ago that I wouldn’t haveknown what these various images and phrases were either.) The term Bits, whentalking about money, is a way of saying 1/8 of a dollar – at least in theUnited States it does. Since there isn’t a 1/8 dollar coin many people wouldrefer to a quarter as Two Bits. While it’s not a common term today, it’s wasn’tthat obscure in 1903.
As for the images on the wheel, unless you are into horse ridingor equestrian sports, like me, you probably have no idea what they are. First,they are not symbols for some secret organization or part of the Mayan calendarpredicting the end of the word in 2012. What they are is a pair of horse bits.Like a good magic trick, the truth is usually a lot less cool than theimagination initially conceives, unless you are really into horses……

Mills Upright Slot Machine For Sale


At the turn of the century most people used horses for theirprimary mode of transportation. Like cars today, most people can relate tocommon tools associated with a car. The images of two horse bits and thewording Two Bits on the coin entry of the machine made it obvious to mostpeople in 1903 that this was a quarter slot machine. Today I bet many peoplewould have no clue what kind of coin to put into this machine.
Another fantasticfeature we found that I will go into more detail in a later blog posting is thefact this machine had a music box in it. By incorporating music into the machine,it would sometimes skirt gambling laws in parts of the country. The idea was togive the person a catchy song for their quarter, while also happening to begambling at the same time. This put the machine into a gray area in somelocations, allowing it to operate. When we received the machine it had itsmusic box removed, but the details and clues were obvious inside the machinethat one was present originally. We have located an original music box thatwill be re-incorporated into this machine.
Mills owl upright slot machine
Slot machine manufactures were always battling with grayanti-gambling laws in parts of the United States. These musical upright slotmachines were the first to try and complicate those laws. Around 1910 and evena little earlier slot machines started adding gum and candy vender attachments.Rather than installing very expensive music boxes, these candy venders were muchcheaper and did the same trick – confusing the law so the slot machine couldoperate a little longer while lawyers figured it all out.
As we progress further with the detailed restoration we willpost more photos and details. Luckily our restoration and repair business hasbeen so good in 2011 and 2012 that it has been difficult to find time to workon our own machines, but we will keep you updated! – Don Creekmore

Mills Dewey Upright Glass

My wife Jenny recently posted a blog about a Mills Deweyupright slot machine that we are restoring.During the restoration process we have ran into a number of interestingdetails about the machine. I thought I would share some of these “finds” aboutthis specific machine and the Mills Novelty Dewey slot machine in general.
In the fall of 1899 Mills Novelty of Chicago, IL introducedtwo 6-way slot machines, one called the Chicago and one the Dewey. Both ofthese machines allowed the player to bet on 6 different colors, hence the name6-way machine. Mills also made the Owl, a 5-way and the Duplex, a 10-way in thelarge floor standing style as well.
It has been said that Mills intended the Dewey to actuallybe named the Puck. A competing company, Caille-Schiemer named a machine thePuck in 1898. This machine for Caille was a 6-way and turned out to be quite successfulfor them. In the tradition of the industry at that time, Mills was simply goingto copy the name for their new 6-way machine. The name Puck was taken from amagazine called the Puck Weekly, which was a popular humor magazine at thetime.
MachineJust as Mills was getting ready to roll their two 6-waymachines out to the market, Admiral George Dewey came back to America inSeptember 1899 as a huge war hero. Capitalizing on his fame Mills decided toname their new machine the Dewey rather than Puck. The admiral’s likeness wouldactually appear on thousands of products during the early 20thCentury. Other slot machine manufactures would also name their own uprightmodels Dewey as well.
The Mills Novelty Dewey turned out to be a greatsales success. Initially the Dewey was only available in 5c play but asproduction went on, Mills made everything from 5c to dollars. Mills Noveltymade the Dewey in a large number of variations from 1899 clear into the 1930’s!Brand new Mills Dewey machines could actually be ordered in late 1932.
MIlls Dewey Inspection Tag
One of the rare but special treats with any slot machine isan inspection tag on the inside indicating when it was made. Many times these piecesof paper came off over time or were covered over with dirt and oil. When thismachine came in we were quite excited to see that the original tag is still present.As shown above, the machine wasinspected on April 16th, 1903, making it 109 years old in a few daysfrom writing this blog. The machines serial number of 11004 is also present inmultiple locations including the tag.

As mentioned earlier, Mills started offering the Dewey innickel though dollar soon after 1899. This particular machine accepts quarters.Rather than simply putting 25c on the coin head, Mills decided to make theDewey machines that accept quarters a little different. As shown directlyabove, the ornate cast iron coin head had Two Bits cast into it.
Mills Dewey Coin Head - Two Bits
Many people today, over 100 years after this machine wasmade, wouldn’t have a clue what Two Bits means or what the two images on thecenter wheel are. (To be honest, it wasn’t that long ago that I wouldn’t haveknown what these various images and phrases were either.) The term Bits, whentalking about money, is a way of saying 1/8 of a dollar – at least in theUnited States it does. Since there isn’t a 1/8 dollar coin many people wouldrefer to a quarter as Two Bits. While it’s not a common term today, it’s wasn’tthat obscure in 1903.
As for the images on the wheel, unless you are into horse ridingor equestrian sports, like me, you probably have no idea what they are. First,they are not symbols for some secret organization or part of the Mayan calendarpredicting the end of the word in 2012. What they are is a pair of horse bits.Like a good magic trick, the truth is usually a lot less cool than theimagination initially conceives, unless you are really into horses……
At the turn of the century most people used horses for theirprimary mode of transportation. Like cars today, most people can relate tocommon tools associated with a car. The images of two horse bits and thewording Two Bits on the coin entry of the machine made it obvious to mostpeople in 1903 that this was a quarter slot machine. Today I bet many peoplewould have no clue what kind of coin to put into this machine.
Another fantasticfeature we found that I will go into more detail in a later blog posting is thefact this machine had a music box in it. By incorporating music into the machine,it would sometimes skirt gambling laws in parts of the country. The idea was togive the person a catchy song for their quarter, while also happening to begambling at the same time. This put the machine into a gray area in somelocations, allowing it to operate. When we received the machine it had itsmusic box removed, but the details and clues were obvious inside the machinethat one was present originally. We have located an original music box thatwill be re-incorporated into this machine.
Slot machine manufactures were always battling with grayanti-gambling laws in parts of the United States. These musical upright slotmachines were the first to try and complicate those laws. Around 1910 and evena little earlier slot machines started adding gum and candy vender attachments.Rather than installing very expensive music boxes, these candy venders were muchcheaper and did the same trick – confusing the law so the slot machine couldoperate a little longer while lawyers figured it all out.
As we progress further with the detailed restoration we willpost more photos and details. Luckily our restoration and repair business hasbeen so good in 2011 and 2012 that it has been difficult to find time to workon our own machines, but we will keep you updated! – Don Creekmore