Sandy Lechtick has created one of the largest and most unusual Penny Arcade and automaton collections in the United States. “The most fun and coolest arcade I’ve ever seen” said one high-end collector. Others couldn’t believe their eyes on fascinating machines from the early 1900’s to1950’s that actually still work!
While Sandy had a few collectibles in the 1970’s and 80’s, his life changed in 1990 when he responded to a Coin-op add: “Wanted 1-100 vintage machines. “Will pay cash”. He figured if someone wanted to buy that many, maybe a few might be for sale. When the individual invited Sandy to come over and see his amazing world-class collection, the DNA lever switched on and the journey of a man on collector steroids commenced.
Twice annual trips to the Chicagoland Antiques Coin-op Show, attending every auction, hundreds of hours at flea markets, reaching out to collectors all over the nation, thousands of photos, tons of research- his collection and reputation grew. From a 1950’s bed vibrator, jukebox and pinball machine, he added rare 1920’s Fortune Tellers; 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; 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 Baranger Motions, animated mechanical advertising window displays, automatons and automatic music devices. Sandy added early 1900's “Page Turners”, “Page Lifters”, automated clowns, musicians and magicians; a remarkable 1906 Decamps “Mesmerizer”, once owned by former magician and Baranger author and collector John Daniel. Sandy then added two life-sized automated life-1920’s “Bell Boys” which realistically move their arms and lifts a card from a box, then hands it to you while smiling and moving their eyes, mouth, eye-brows and head. The black figures were formerly used in 1930’s theatres and department stores. Recently he added a animated life-sized robot from Belgium and two multi-instrument orchestrions- a Ramey Banjo Orchestra and a 1920’s Wurlitzer LX that automatically changes 6 rolls of music. Sandy is writing a book about tales of the hunt and his observations about collectors, adventures and passion.
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.