Another Lucky Ducky Find
By Johhny Duckworth

Do you ever feel that all rare coin operated machines have been pulled out of the dark deep holes in wich they lurk? Back in the early "hay days" great finds seemed to happen almost weekly or even daily according to many old collectors in the coin operated hobby; now these finds seemed to take years. We have all been bitten by the coin-op bug as we search for that killer old machine that has been tucked away.However, with a little luck and a lot of determination, amazing finds still happen.

This coin operated scale turned up in a little town in Michigan. The consignor had been cleaning out his late grandfather's estate and hauling everything off to the local auction house when i found out about the scale. I could remember reading about this rare machine in a C.O.C.A. article written by Jim Merlyn Collings (March 2003) as well as Bill Howard's book Every Picture Tells a story.

When I had first laid eyes upon the scal in photos,I could see that it had been in the barn for quite some time. The upper mirror and pointer were long gone so the scale looked a little neglected. I made several phone calls to Jeff Storck to pick his brain and learn more about the scale. He assured me that if all the golf apparatus remained intact and in good condition nothing else would matter. Fortunatley, parts for the scale portion could be obtained by searching out for another similar yet rare model that the scale company produced.

I offered to but the scale from the auction company, but they wanted to do more research and find out a value before they made a decision.After a little over a week, they decided it would be best to place the scale in their upcoming auction on Saturday. That was only three days away and to top it off they don't take phone bids. I had to get up to Michigan right away and try to purchase this machine.

Even though the drive took twelve hours, it didn't seem so long with my dad riding along with me. He asked me several times along the way up, "What if we drive all this way and dont get the scale?" This was something constantly on my mind, but nothing I wanted to dwell upon. I was excited that the scale would finally be for sale but on the other hand you don't always win at auctions, especially if someone else wants the item as bad as you.

The following morning we arrived at the auction house when they first opened to look the scale over.The consigner had hauled in a mutoscope clam shell and a mechanical slot machine as well as the scale.I talked with one of the auction owners to find out what else could still be in this old barn.They informed me that the barn had been completley cleaned out,and nothing else remained.

I tried once more to buy the scale in order not to wait around for the auction the next day.I was told the machines would go to the auction unless I wanted to talk with one of the auction owners who listed their items on Ebay. He had picked the items up from the consigner and could make the final decision.We waited around a good hour for him to show up for work.When he finally showed up,I began negotiating a price.After fifteen or twenty minutes of conversing,I managed to purchase the scale before it made its way to the auction.

I still find it hard to believe, but with all of the time delays and small issues I encountered,I had this incredible bought before the auction even started and loaded into the truck.I have been called "lucky ducky" in the past by turning up rare machines, but this time I truly felt lucky.Ever since operators pulled these out of-date Fair Weigh Golf Scales off their routes, collectors have only found two of these machines, with mine now becoming the third.

The colonial scale company produced this machine in Boston,Massachusetts in the 20's and into the early 30's. They applied for the golf mechanism patent on December 30,1930,receiving it on december 5, 1933. Some say that this scale has been considered one of the greatest novelty scales ever produced because it incorporates an arcade machine within the scale. The golf theme in the lower portion of the scale gives the patron the opportunity to gamble after weighing themselves, thus presenting the opportunity for them to get their penny back and recieve their weight for free.

When you step on the foot plate of the scale the dial always moves,making this scale all the more interesting.The numbers on the dial are hidden as a little red sign remains raised to cover them while not in use. When you drop ypur penny into the coin slot on top it falls into a balanced arm where the weight of the coin drops the sign down reading "wheight shown here" so you can view your weight.When finished,stepping off the plate kicks your coin out and the red sign returns back into place. Your coi then falls into the top section of the golf mechanism tee'd upp and ready for play.Finally,with a quick turn of the knob on the right side of the play field you can hit your penny with a miniature golf club trying to knock it through one of the four holes on the left.If you're skilled enough to make it through one of the four holesyour penny will fall into the lake and into the operator's cash box inside.

Strangley enough,all three Fair Weigh Golf Scales have surfaced in Michigan,begging the question,could it be possible an operator had several of these on his route?According to Red Meade, The Colonial Scale Company only produced 11 of these golf scales.The first scale to surface has serial #757, pulled originally from a penny arcade in Michigan.The arcade owner had stripped all the white paint off,added colums on the sides,and stained the cabinet to match his arcade decor.Christopher Steele purchased this machine in Chicago around 1977 for his collectio. The Bill Howard collection contains the secon golf scale found, with serial #543 stamped on it. This scale originally turned up in the Fox Theatre in Detroit,selling to a couple different collectors before Bill acquired the machine for $25,000 at the Red Meade auction in April 1999.

The latest golf scale to surface,#538,looks to have spent some time in the Cincinnati,Ohio area as well. While restoring the machines some city decals surfaced underneath the top layer of paint from 1949, 1956, 1958,and 1959.Scale collector and dealer Bill Berning turned up a non-golf version of the Colonial scale in Philidalphia,also uncommon;this scale fortunatley had all the parts needed to complete the golf scale recently acquire.

Now that three fair Weigh Golf Scales have made their way to the surface, one must ask-could there be 'fore'?