The Chicagoland Antique Advertising, Slot Machine and Jukebox Show is known by collectors and enthusiasts by many names. It is most commonly referred to as the Chicagoland Show, or the Chicagoland Coin-Op Show. I don’t believe I have ever heard it referred to by its full and official name. So for the sake of my typing fingers and so that the Editor doesn’t think I’m trying to pad the word count, through the rest of this review I will just refer to it as the Chicagoland Show.
The Chicagoland Show is in its 39th year of operation and claims to be the largest and longest-running coin-op and collector show in North America. I haven’t done any research to verify this claim, but it seems to make sense given that a large number of major coin-op companies have called the greater Chicago area (Chicagoland) home over the years.
Tilt Productions in Wadsworth, IL, USA manages this show and a similar coin-op and collectibles show usually held each year in November.
In the last few years, the Friday before the show opens for general admission is reserved for ‘Dealer Preview’. All-access admission is $50 (which includes Friday-Sunday general admission) for buyers. On Friday a portion of the parking lot is set up as a jumble/flea market and entry to just the outdoor market for buyers is $11 per person. General admission to the indoor portion of the show on Saturday and Sunday is $7 with free parking.
In recent years, Donley Auctions of Union, IL holds a collectible and antique auction Friday evening on the grounds of the Chicagoland Show that brings spirited bidding and some bargains.
The Chicagoland show has contracted with NAVIS Pack and Ship to help with any items purchased at the show that buyers wish to have shipped anywhere in North America.
The show organizers have stated that there were over 300 vendors in attendance from all over the US, Canada, and as far away as the Netherlands, Australia, England and Switzerland.
There is a comprehensive dealer information packet available by request on the website mentioned above if you are interested in becoming a vendor at a future show. I felt it was best to not include this year’s dealer information in this article because it is likely that it will change at future shows.
I wanted to mention that with the Chicagoland Show’s recent move to the 62,000 square foot Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, come the addition of The Farmstand Eatery by Bauer’s Catering, which offers a number of homemade breakfast and lunch options including beverages.
Since this is a review for Pinball News, I will focus as best as I can on the pinball and related games that were available at the Chicagoland Show. Having said that, I did want to mention that nearly every type of antique advertising and coin-op item that you can imagine was represented at the show.
I spotted collectables such as: wheel of fortunes, trade stimulators and slot machines (gambling), jukeboxes, karaoke, player pianos, ball bowlers and shuffleboards, advertising clocks and thermometers, weighing scales and such for the sale of grocery and produce, traffic signs, barware and bar/dining fixtures of all kinds, change machines, postage stamp vendors, shoe shiners, gumball, mold-o-rama, souvenir medal and medallion makers, kiddie rides including hobby horse, spaceship, boats, and pedal cars, dealer promotional items, hunting trophies, porcelain and neon advertising signs of all types, tobacco, beverage and snack vending, new and vintage popcorn makers and popcorn box art, antique barber shop equipment, cash registers, drive-in movie and restaurant fixtures, phone booths and other coin operated phones, stereoscopes and mutoscopes, petrolina (gas & oil merchandise & memorabilia) including gas station signs, displays and fuel pumps, non-pinball arcade games of various types including golf, pachinko, shooter games, weight and fortune, bingo games, video, games of skill and pitch & bat.
I probably left out something in the above paragraph and if I did I apologize.
There was even a vendor with a large display of restored and customized antique outboard boat motors for sale. In retrospect this is not that surprising since Johnson, Outboard Marine (OMC), Briggs & Stratton, West Bend, Kiekhaefer Mercury, Kohler Marine, McCulloch and Evinrude outboard boat motor factories are or were at one time located in the northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin area.
A few of the older coin-op machines remind me of Rube Goldberg’s creations and a few challenged my imagination to understand how they worked. I was equally pleased however that they had survived all these years for us to enjoy.
There are a number of videos on YouTube covering all of the above in overview style, including a series of videos done explicitly about the Chicagoland Show since 2008 by user vintagecoinop (Mickey Treat) who faithfully attends the show each year from New York state. I feel Mickey’s videos do a good job of showing the variety of coin operated vending and
amusement machines on sale at this show. Oddly he skips over pinball which is exactly where the heart of my show review begins.
It must be said that there were fewer pinball games for sale at this year’s Spring Chicagoland Show than I remember in the past. It seemed like at this show there was a mix of games needing some TLC and those that had been reconditioned.
Of particular interest to me was a 1933 Baby Official by Mills Novelty Company. This was a counter-top flipperless pure-mechanical pinball that seemed to be in good restored condition with a $425.00 asking price.
Even though it is a counter-top unit, this example had the plaque for the “pin table” version which has legs. Apparently some of the counter-top units did have the “Official Pin Table” engraved plaque added at the factory. In the 1930s this game was 10 balls for one cent. This particular unit did not have the ‘rules’ or scoring/fortune card included.
I noticed a nice Gottlieb Card Trix (1970) add-a-ball game that, at least in my travels, is seldom seen, asking for $1295.00.
I chatted with one vendor who had just received his Stern The Munsters Pro game and had it proudly on display to quite a bit of interest by the public.
Some vendors offered translites and backglassses for sale, such as a restored Gottlieb Big Casino from 1961 asking for $250.00.
There was only one vendor that I found that had pinball repair parts available and, as you would imagine, their selection was limited.
I spotted a framed backglass from Victory Games 1943 conversion Bomb The Axis Rats which seemed to reflect the sentiment toward the so called ‘Axis’ countries by the Allies during WW2. This conversion was meant to be used with Chicago Coin’s 1941 game Star Attraction – a flipperless EM game which was also for sale at the show.
A couple of vendors had table-top toy pinball games from the 1970s with asking prices of $5-10.
Admittedly not pinball, I chatted with Chris from St. Louis Ball Bowler Company who had brought a beautifully restored 1964 United Matador ‘big ball’ 16 foot 6-player bowling machine. Chris was putting on a clinic flawlessly rolling spares for any combination of pins including the deadly 7-10 split! I should have had my camera on video to capture how smoothly he took down that 7-10!
I confess that my love for bowlers goes back to my childhood where it seemed like every bowling alley had one for the ‘kids’ while the adults played the full-sized game. If and when we win the lottery I will have to get at least one bowler for my future game room.
Again not pinball but I have to give a shout out to Marquee Popcorn Co. who were on hand with their fantastic made-in-the-USA popcorn poppers, theatre popcorn and bag art posters available for sale. Everything popcorn is a passion for Christine and Joe so if you are in the market for a popper for your home theatre, you’ll be surprised how affordable their professional
quality poppers can be.
Service/repair manuals and sales brochures for vintage coin-op machines including pinball were offered by a couple of vendors. I am not enough of an expert to know if they were original or reproduction so I won’t comment other than it was nice to see that the service manuals are available for restorers.
Although my time at the Chicagoland Show was limited, if you can call 4 hours “limited”, I had a wonderful time seeing what was on display and remembering things from the past, and even spotting a couple of vintage items similar to ones that I had owned during my youth.
The Chicagoland Show is highly recommended for both those in search of a special game or item for their game room, and for those who just like to browse too. Please attend one of their future shows if you are able. I salute Penny and Bob Traynoff as well as Dawn and Kevin Greco for the hard work that they have put into putting on these shows for going-on 40 years.
The Chicagoland Fall Show will be held 15th-17th November, 2019 with the 15th being the dealer preview day. I do not know if there will be a Friday auction at the Fall show this year. Please keep an eye on their website or Facebook page for more information.