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Issue Date: Vol. 51, No. 9, September 2011, Posted On: 9/17/2011

Antique Novelty Could Be Worth $10M

Marcus Webb
coin machine, coin-op device, antique coin-op device, The Gypsy, Mills Novelty Co., Montana, David Copperfield, coin-op fortuneteller, Edison wax cylinder, Montana Heritage Commission, rare coin machine, valuable coin machine, penny arcade machine, vending machine, novelty machine, 1906 novelty machine, juke box, pinball, coin-op collectible

The Gypsy

VIRGINIA CITY, MT -- British newspapers are reporting that magician David Copperfield is believed to have offered $2 million to purchase a fortune-telling novelty.

The Gypsy is owned by the state of Montana and resides in a public museum run by the Montana Heritage Commission. Some Montana officials said they had no plans to sell the machine; other officials said they had seen no offers in writing.

Built by the Mills Novelty Co. around 1906, The Gypsy may be worth up to $10 million on the open market, according to some collectors. The machine used two Edison wax cylinder-style recording playback devices to "talk" to players.

Copperfield, who collects turn-of the century penny arcade games, said he believes The Gypsy may be one of a kind.

Before being acquired by Montana's state government as part of a collective real estate purchase, The Gypsy sat virtually unnoticed for decades as part of the décor at a restaurant called Bob's Place.

The Gypsy is housed in a cabinet (standing about eight feet tall) and operated on nickel play. See photos at the Daily Mail.

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