I started collecting arcade games around 1995, and soon after discovered the world of coin-op auction events. These large scale live auctions once took place all over the USA. Oh sure, these auctions still do happen but they are of a much smaller scale then they once were. Prices were heartbreakingly cheap compared to today, and rare items would often get ignored and even thrown away at the end of some auctions. Below are a series of photos I took from about 1997-2001 of various auctions I attended and whatever memories I might have associated with the photos. These auctions took place in Winston Salem North Carolina and Baltimore for the most part.
Donkey Kong Junior bootleg of some kind. I would often see bootlegs of this style of cabinet mostly of Donkey Kong or Frogger.
I remember at this auction they had so much stuff, they couldn't fit it all in the building. Note the Hard Drivin compact cabinet, Cyberball, and Double Dragon way in the background.
On average most of these auctions would have about 35-60 pinball machines, if not more.
Rows of games (mixed in with the occasional Jukebox) probably had about 50 games in each row. Some auctions would have as many as 10-12 rows of games, making the auctions an all day event.
I remember this Red Baron selling for the low price of one dollar. I think there was a Red Baron cockpit at this same auction.
Some nice classics here, you can just make out the Kickman cut off on the left side of the photo. Galalga and Ms. Pac machines could still fetch around 600-1000 during the late 90's.
Nice overview of an auction in North Carolina, you can just see that nice Star Wars in the lower right hand corner.
Some more classics here, with a modified Moppet cabinet on the left.
Pinball machines being sold as parts machines.
Gauntlet was considered a classic right out of the gate I believe, and I didn't see a ton of them at these events.
Tron was another game that would command premium prices even back in the 90's, the Shinobi probably sold for peanuts however.
Donkey Kong 3 with a missing bottom platform. DK3's were a rare site at these auctions.
Pretty nice looking Gorf.
Defender and a Make Trax cocktail, I remember that Defender cocktail was cherry and sold for 100 dollars.
You could get an Outrun for under 150 dollars all day long back then, both of these looked like they were in pretty nice shape.
Rows and rows of games.....You had to watch yourself at these things since many of the operators would use "shill bids" to up the prices for collectors.
Some nice shuffle alley bowlers, I always thought these were pretty fun.
More classics, with a very nice Pac-Mania.
Uber rare Firefox converted into a Choplifter, it had to be hard to play with that controller.
According to my notes, this sold for 50 dollars semi-working.
My love for all things Taito ran strong even back then, notice the nice two screen Playchoice dual screen next to it. Playchoice machines are highly sought after today but back then you could get a nice one for 100 bucks all day long at these auctions.
I bought this one for $175 as mostly complete but not working. Eventually I got it up and running.
Such a great game, and hard to find even back then.
Early 70's Asteroid by Midway, not to be confused with the Atari classic Asteroids. I love the artwork on this cabinet.
I bet there are only a handful of Super Moon Cresta machines left in existence now.
According to my notes, this sold for 400 dollars non-working.
Two Sega classics converted from Tempest cabinets.
Hard to find Smash TV in the dedicated 19 inch cabinet.
I can't even think of the last time I have seen a Lock N Chase. I remember playing it at the auction, but I don't remember how much it sold for.
Mat Mania was a pretty popular conversion kit, this would be an easy restoration back to a Robotron today.
Ah Pepper II! I love this game, one day I hope to add one to my collection.
Crazy cool (and rare) Space Tactics sit down by Sega. The monitor moves with the controller... I doubt there are more than 10 of these left in the wild.
Games for days and days.....
I never cared for Xevious but the cabinet is super cool.
It's common for nice Tapper machines to sell for 2500-3000 today, this one sold for 550 in 1999.
Check out the Space Firebird cabaret, licensed by Nintendo for Sega. I remember it didn't work but sold for 50 bucks.
Some sort of Pong table clone from the 70's. They would often sell these for under 10 dollars at these auctions....
They sold these as a lot, all 4 for 300 dollars.
STUN Runner with a nice looking Roadblasters cockpit in the background.
Tron's would often sell working for close to 800-1000 back then, as well as working Tempest machines. This Tempest appears to be an Irish build cabinet.
They had two of these there, neither one of them working correctly.
Have to love the back glass design of this Dolly Parton pinball.
Baby Pac-Man machines were usually always non working.
Sold for $200.
Rare Thief game, the tape player still worked.
What a beauty...
Super rare dedicated Jack the Giantkiller upright. Sold for $75
Some of the games I bought at auction during this time included....
Playchoice 10 Countertop (full of games) $50
1942 (In Frogger cabinet) $75
Gyruss (Played blind when I got it) $115
Space Harrier sit down $135
Outrun cabaret $185
Popeye (Dead but complete) $100
Dig Dug (Dead but complete). $100
Nintendo Red Tent (NOS) $50
....now only if I could go back in time and go to these auctions now :-D