“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Those Jack Riley Slot Machines in Old Shanghai – What Were They?

Posted: March 22nd, 2021 | No Comments »

My thanks to George Godula of Shanghai who is an enthusiast of both old slot machines and old slot machine tokens. I sent him a picture of a Jack Riley leased slot machine (for more on all that see my book City of Devils which features the great “Slots King” of Shanghai) – this one from the Astoria Cafe, just over the Garden Bridge close to the Astor House Hotel.

Here it is….

George reckons it’s a Mills 5 Cent Liberty Bell slot machine from the 1920s. Riley shipped his machines in from wherever he could get them – America via Manila and Japan as well as, later, machines sourced through Macao. Here are two examples of the type of machines he imported into Shanghai…

This is a Mills 5 Cent Operators Bell Art Deco Gooseneck slot machine from c.1925
And here is a Mills 5 Cent Libert Bell slot similar to the one in the Astoria in Hongkew.

George believes that Riley shipped in whatever machines he could find as Shanghai’s hunger for slots grew (and his bank account!)…In this ad from the Fourth Marines Club magazine Walla Walla the artists rendition is a different type of machine again…

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