Morphy's returns to Las Vegas for annual fall auction of coin-ops, gambling machines & antique advertising

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Morphy's returns to Las Vegas for annual fall auction of coin-ops, gambling machines & antique advertising
Superior Confection golf ball Automat, a highlight of Morphy’s Oct. 27-28, 2023 Las Vegas auction.

DENVER, PA.- Morphy’s will be heading west this fall to re-establish its presence in Las Vegas as the premier auction house for antique coin-op machines and antique advertising. An October 27-28, 2023 auction will launch a new chapter in Morphy’s ever-growing Vegas endeavors, with the popular Westgate Resort and Casino serving as the fall sale’s permanent venue. The annual spring edition of Morphy’s Coin-Op, Gambling & Antique Advertising Auction will not be affected and will continue to be held at Morphy’s flagship gallery in Lancaster County, Pa.

Morphy’s history in Las Vegas began in 2014 with the acquisition of Peter Sidlow’s respected Victorian Casino Auctions (VCA). From then on, VCA’s auctions were jointly branded as Morphy/VCA events.

“The Victorian Casino Auctions name was, and still is, highly respected. Peter Sidlow, and his vice president Don Grimmer – who now heads Morphy’s Coin-Op & Advertising department – knew what the collectors wanted, and it was convenient and fun for those collectors to attend their auctions, since the majority of them lived in the western states,” said Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions.

However, what so many West Coast bidders valued – namely, “destination” auctions in easily accessible Vegas – turned out to be a logistical problem for Morphy’s. With so many fragile East Coast consignments having to be trucked across the country from the company’s Pennsylvania warehouse to VCA’s Nevada premises, it eventually became clear that the bicoastal business model was not going to be sustainable. In June 2019, Morphy’s wound down its Las Vegas operation and moved all coin-op sales to its main gallery. While that solved the problem for East Coast consignors, it spurred a reluctance from some West Coast consignors who were concerned about having their valuable goods shipped cross-country to Pennsylvania.

But a lot has changed over the last few years. Las Vegas is booming, investment money is pouring in, and many Californians are relocating there. At the same time, Morphy’s has been strategically cementing its foothold in the gambling and entertainment capital of the world through several significant business moves. In 2020, the company entered into a collaboration with Beinfeld Productions to co-produce the Las Vegas Antique Arms Show, held annually in January. Starting in 2024, that event will merge with Brian Lebel’s Annual Old West Show & Auction (formerly held in Mesa, Arizona) to create a 60,000-square-foot mega event, also at the Westgate Resort & Casino. Additionally, Morphy’s recently took possession of a large, super-secure facility in Las Vegas for the processing and storage of consignments.

Morphy Auctions CEO Tom Tolworthy, who is a renowned expert on the subject of coin-operated and gambling machines, said the company’s return to Las Vegas offers collectors the best of both worlds. “West Coast consignors who were hesitant about having their machines shipped across the country to Pennsylvania now have the option of selling them in our fall coin-op auction in Las Vegas. On the other hand, East Coast consignors will continue to have the option of selling their prized machines through our spring coin-op sale in Pennsylvania. Both are excellent, well supported events.”

Tolworthy said the news of Morphy’s fall auction relocating to Las Vegas is creating excitement amongst collectors. “Already, the Coin Operated Collectors Association (C.O.C.A.) is planning a reunion to tie in with the October auction,” he said. “There’s a lot to be said for holding an auction at a resort-style hotel. It’s a social environment, and when you’re not attending the auction, there’s fine dining and entertainment right at your fingertips.”

Don Grimmer, who has been involved in the coin-op and antique advertising world for more than 40 years, echoed Tolworthy’s sentiments. “The October sale represents a return to something collectors have missed – bidding in an auction filled with the top-quality machines and advertising Morphy’s is known for, then having plenty to do after the auction has ended each day. The hobby is bubbling over with excitement, and that’s not just confined to collectors of coin-op machines. A lot of interest is being expressed by collectors of Western memorabilia, saloon, country store and Old West historical items. Usually if a collector likes one of these categories, they like them all.”

Tolworthy remarked that the October 27-28 auction in Las Vegas is shaping up to be an outstanding event on par with Morphy’s upcoming April 20-22 coin-op and advertising sale in Pennsylvania. “We’ve picked up a fresh-to-the-market collection in Reno that contains some strong slot machines, and a fresh collection of early arcade machines in Southern California,” Tolworthy said. “There’s much more to come.”

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