The Caille Black Cat
By Johhny Duckworth

Caile produced hundreds of machines daily in their with a quarter of a million feet of floor space and a payroll of 450 hands. The factory had machinery and facilities wich performed all sorts of tasks from one end to the other; they had their own foundary, cabinet shop, and planting area just to name a few. They also hired some of the finest European and American craftsman available. For example, their engraver who worked in the plant making dies for checks and metal tokens had to be checked on regularly by a United States Treasury official because he was considered equal in expertness of any engraver for the government. It's not hard to see today that Caile's success was certainley due to the unbeliavable workmanship wich was at the highest level in the industry. They also produced some of the finest examples of Victorian art that you will find in a gambling machine.

One of my all time favorite machines was produced by none other the Caille Company from Detroit, known as the "Black Cat". It was advertised by Caille to be "the most magnificent slot machine ever made", and if you were an operator at that time, this floor machine would have made you sit up in your chair since it was one of the most expensive single models Caille produced. Shown in several catalogs, it would sell for as high as $180 dollars for the nickel version but it also came in the quarter and half dollar play as well. You could tack on another $25 dollars when adding a Swiss music box in hopes of legalizing the machine in your area. It's estimated that only a dozen of these machines still exist today wich could also be in result from the higher cost. No half dollar machines have ever surfaced and im only aware of two quarter machines. The machines were advertised in the quartered oak and mahogony cabinets, and one is actually known in the green cabinet as well. In those days you could sell a machine as having a mahogony cabinet when actually it was made from birch and finished with a mahogony stain. It was a much gentler time.

The Black Cat could be considered the direct offspring by bearing resemblence from both a floor machine and a pocket machine produced at the turn of the century. The Black Cat boosted a color wheel in the front, but also had six pockets lined up in the lower front casting. Your typical floor machine would have the six colors on the wheel wich would pay you a detirmined amount per that color, but with the black cat you would only have the colors to coordinate with the pockets below. If you hit a color played you could only win the amount of coins currently in that coresponding pocket. The pockets could hold as much as $10 dollars depending on the denomination and if you hit a winning color, the coins would then rattle and fall into the ornate pay cups cast into each side of the front casting. The six pockets were split in half, so depending on wich side the color was located dictated on wich side your winnings would fall.

The mechanism is designed like no other, designed where a majority of coins played will randomley fall into the center pockets wich ultimatley are the harder colors to hit since they have fewer color spaces on the wheel. The outside pockets are red and black wich are always the easiest colors to hit on a floor machine since they hold the majority of spaces on the wheel. The dividing of the coins is performed in a very simple manner due to a pin field located behind the color wheel where a series of pins make it more difficult for the coins to reach the outside pockets. The mechanism also has four internal flaps wich can be adjusted to detirmine how many coins will even fall into the center pockets instead of that hungry cash box below. The wheel has 96 total spaces and there are generally several large pockets filled in the center so this machine saw continuos play. Originally it had 12 beveled glue chipped mirrors on the center wheel just as you will observe on the early puck models but they were later produced with the name black cat draped across the fron boasting a picture of the black cat in the center.

The machine does have something very intresting wich you wouldnt find with the others. Imagine placing your bet on a color, then hitting that color, only to win nothing and lose your bet. This could happen very easily if the player didn't first look to see what was currently in the pockets below before placing a bet. An empty pocket is not uncommon and the pockets can be slow to fill after a winner due to the random coin drop. This machine would have also been in direct competition with the Duplex made by the Mills Novelty Company at that time.

Ever since entering the hobby, I've wanted one of these rare and prestigious machines. I was told by some of the old timers to be patient and one would turn up but that was hot air to me since it never seemed to happen. The problem is that most of these rare old floor machines tend to find collectors who dont want to part with them. It took me quit some time to aqquire a Black Cat and i had almost given up hope. I was very fortunate to have a good friend in Ohio who found some pity on me and i was able to make a trade with another great floor machine along with a pocket full of money. Here are some of the serial number that I have been able to track down for the Caille Black Cat 199, 346, 554, 579, 594, 651, 659, & 702. If you have any information or serial numbers you would like to share please contact me at or 816-835-3316. Thanks.