Sandy Lechtick has created one of the largest and most unusual Penny Arcade and automaton collections in the United States. “The most fun arcade I’ve ever seen, bar none” said one high-end collector.
While Sandy had a few collectibles in the 80’s and 90’s, his life changed in 1990 when he responded to a Coin-op wanted “1-100” add. From a bed vibrator, jukebox and pinball machine, the DNA collector gene switched on, and the exciting journey began. Like a collector on steroids, Sandy’s collection took off. For the next several years he added 1920’s-1950’s coin-operated machines including several rare Fortune Tellers such as the Cleveland Grandma; shooting galleries and gun games; early popcorn, peanut and candy machines; coin-operated games of skill and strength, boxing and chin-up machines; Clam Shell mutoscopes and peep shows; 1940’s electro-mechanical World War II games; a life-sized animated female “stripper”; card vendors, slot and cigarette machines; early neon signs; magician, fat lady and oddities circus banners and more.
In 2010, Sandy diversified into the world of animated mechanical advertising window displays, automatons and Baranger Motions, which were used in jewelry stores from the 1930’s- 1950’s. Sandy added early 1900's “Page Turners”, “Page Lifters”, automated clowns, musicians and magicians. He was able to purchase the remarkable 1906 Decamps “Mesmerizer”, once owned by former magician and Baranger author John Daniel. Sandy recently added two life-sized automated life-1920’s “Bell Boys” which actually moves it’s arms and lifts a card from a box, then hands it to you while realistically smiling while moving it eyes, mouth, eye-brows and head- formerly used in 1930’s theatres and department stores.
After visiting several prominent collectors of automatic music, he then added 1900-1950’s mechanical automatic music devices: the Wurlitzer LX orchestrion; Ramey Banjo Orchestra; KT Special; Mills Violano Virtuoso; player pianos; Mills Panoram; Scopitones and several jukeboxes. Sandy, a former guitar player is now a self-taught piano player.
The many visitors who have visited the collection comment on the overall lively atmosphere as if they drifted into Coney Island. Vintage amusement park banners and unusual advertising pieces add to the sense of excitement and energy!
Automatons have been popular for centuries with examples of simple devices dating as far back as 100BC. During the middle ages, automatons became more life-like, started aquiring human qualities and were used extensively by alchemists, magicians and psychics to illustrate their power.
Coin-operated machines, toys, and games (also known as coin-op or just coin op) range from cash registers and pinball machines to piggy banks and jukeboxes.
Perhaps the most easily recognizable advertising medium of the late 19th and early 20th centuries is the porcelain sign. Starting in the 1880s, companies saw the advantages of porcelain as a material that was both durable and weather resistant.
Baranger Motion machines or "Baranger Motions" were store-window mechanical animated advertising displays, rented to jewellers, and produced from 1925 to 1959 by the Baranger Company of South Pasadena, California USA.