The Story Behind Classic Pinballs

Section of a 1964 Gottlieb World Fair backglass

I founded Classic Pinballs website several years ago, to share my hobby with other enthusiasts and collectors.

My interest in pinball machines began in my youth, when I played many of the now classic machines when they were new. In particular, I can remember playing a brand spanking new Gottlieb Spin a Card, at the Ambassador Lanes bowling alley, in sunny Lewisham, S.E London. The machines suppliers had just unpacked and set the game up and left me a few credits on it. That machine is still one of my favourite machines today and I am fortunte to own a quite nice example of it.

My first experience of a pinball machine was in fact was a Bingo machine! They look very similar at first glance but are very different animals. The one I saw was in a cafe adjacent to the Lewisham Odeon cinema and I saw men playing it and gambling for money on it! I can’t remember exactly what machine it was, all I can remember is hearing it making that odd clicking noise as games were being won, plus the heady small of cigarettes, cooking smells and steam inside the place. And of course, seeing men exchanging cash for the credits being won on the machine. No wonder some countries banned these as they were deemed gambling devices, whereas Pinball machines have plenty of notices on them to say that they are for amusement only!

My schooldays were heavily influenced with pinball machines. I knew all the cafes along the bus route to school that had a machine, one in particular comes to mind, a cafe (still there too) a few doors up from Lewisham hospital,  where they had a Williams Apollo. I loved playing that and trying to nudge the ball into the ‘Special’ slot in the head unit. A terrific machine to play and again, I am fortunate to own one of those too.

Lastly, I have fond memories of visiting the local chippie close to my school – Sedgehill, in Catford, with my mates where they had a Gottlieb Buckaroo!  We would place our sixpences on top of the glass to reserve a game and if money was tight, we pooled our money and played it using a flipper each. That often lead to quite a few disputes on who should have hit the ball at key times to hit a particular number on the roto-target, etc. Great fun, great times.

And that is what this hobby is all about, the simple fun and enjoyment that these machines can offer. It seems that more and more people are turning away from their play stations and other electric games and having their very own classic pinball machine set up in a spare room or games-room at home. Great fun for all the family,  at anytime of the year, particularly during holiday times, like Christmas for instance. Now the kids can challenge Grandad and Grandma on their favourite machine and see who is the best pinball wizard in the family!

Please take a look through the site and enjoy seeing some classic machines that are being restored ( as this site is a fluid, ongoing process, it shall change often)  or those that are for sale, etc.

I have an extensive collection of machines, built up over many years and am now selling some off, so you might see one of interest to you. And if I don’t have one listed, get in touch anyway and I’ll ask around other collectors that I know to see if they might be able to help you find your perfect machine.

My email address to contact me is at the top of the page.

Thanks for looking.