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The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated Machine Information Site 

                                          O.D.Jennings & Co

 

                                                                  

                                     Ode D.Jennings                                                           Company

                                      1874-1953                                                                   Logo

Ode Jennings was born in Kentucky in  1874. In his late 20's he went to work for the Mills Novelty Co where his natural engineering ability soon made him an expert on coin-operated machines. So much so he was given the task of running the Mills  Spectatorium at the 1904 World Fair in St Louis . This was a massive building, partly designed by Thomas Edison , and featured (what was said at the time to be ) hundreds of Mills slot machines, it was the only free attraction at the worlds fair but probably made more money than any other. The building was brightly lit at night (Edison's contribution)  and attracted a huge number of visitors.

                                           

                                             The Mills Spectatorium at the 1904 worlds Fair,St Louis

Two years later in 1906 he left Mills(seemingly on good terms) and founded the Industry Novelty Co Inc whose business was refurbishing Mills machines.

By 1923 the company was called O.D.Jennings & Co and was doing very well despite a misguided attempt to revive the Garbell Typewriter Corp which he had bought out of liquidation, the attempt was a total disaster. In the same year, he was granted a US patent for an improved coin selecting device which could discard coins that were too small. In 1925 he invented and was granted a patent for an anti coin jamming device 

In 1925 Ode bought a large house/farm in Schaumburg Illinois and like another country boy turned factory owner, Henry Ford, spent the rest of his life escaping from the factory whenever possible to be  a part-time gentleman farmer breeding cattle and horses

                           

 

By 1936 the company, was, like Mills, making a large range of slot machines in different styles, including a very unusual payout pin table called the Sportsman. This was more like a slot machine that a pin table  

 

                                         

                                 

Ode Jennings died on 29th November 1953 at the age of 79 having personally run the company for 47 years. Having no children he left everything in trust to his wife on the proviso that it passed to the town and hospital on her death but she seems to have got round that as far as the company was concerned by setting up Jennings and Co in 1954 which purchased the assets of O.D.Jennings and Co from the estate of Ode Jennings.

 

                                                                          

Jennings and Co were merged with the Hershey Manufacturing Co in 1957 although 80% of Hersheys production was Jennings machines. By the early '60s Jennings was the top producer of slot machines in the US with 45% of total sales.

By the mid '60s with laws in the US cutting slot sales to a fraction American Machine and Science Co acquired the failing Jennings Co along with Bell-o-matic (the remains of the Mills Slot division) and merged them to become TJM Corp run by Tony and John Mills but a failure to come to grips with the new electromechanical slot machines Bally had grabbed the market with plus the failure of Mills to protect their business rights in Japan caused the company to close in the 1980s

Ode Jennings wife Jeannette died in 1963 and, as proposed in Ode's will, left the house and lands to the town and donated $500,000 to the local hospital for the building of the O.D.Jennings wing which opened in 1966.

 

                                              A selection Of Jennings Machines

 

Most slot machine collectors want at least one Jennings machine in their collection. The early models are always interesting and the later ones are often considered THE classic mechanical slot machine. The Indian Chief figurehead is instantly recognisable even to those not involved in the history of slots. They were always well made with great build quality and the designs have stood the test of time. Here are just a few of Jenning's amazing machines.

 

                   For a more complete list click the green button at the top of the page

 

               

                                       1920 5c Play                                                    1925 25c Counter model

 

                         

                                          Dutch Boy                                                                           Century

 

                          

 

                                             4 star  Chief                                                                    One star chief

 

                            

                                                   Dixie Belle                                                                    Dixie Belle

 

                     

                                                   Century                                                           "Bull Durham" Triple Jackpot

                                                 

                                                  Peacock                                                              "The Witch/Black cat" 

 

                     

 

                              Quality Mint Vendor                                                               Silver Club

 

                  

       

                                       Bronze  Chief                                                         Fortune teller gum Ball Vendor

                                           

                                                                            The "Little Duke"

           The "Little Duke" was an attempt at something new and did have  considerable success. The totally new mech bares no resemblance to the standard Bandit mechs of the day and the machine is                                                                                   much sort after toady

           

                                      The Little duke                                                                inside the little Duke

 

                "Little Duke"  Patent 1933

 

   

        Being totally new in design considerable effort was put into educating potential customers as to the Little Duke

 

 

   

   Jennings produced a surprising number of different "Golf Ball Vendors" The console on the left allowed the player to                                                                     select which type of ball he wanted

                           

                                          Puritan Girl Trade Stim                                               Triplex   Chief

 

                           

                      Fortune teller gum ball vendor                                                                 Penny Play

                         

                                               Rockaway                                                                  The Favorite      

                                                                           Club Consoles     

   Jennings were always keen on console style machines, this was most likley due to there large upper class market in  clubs .These machines represent some of the most luxurious machines ever made

 

            

                                                 Cigarola                                                                    Club console

                                                    

                                   Plain Case Club Console                                                        The Long Shot

                                  

                             Deluxe Club Console                                                     "Prospector"  Console

 

                     The low level "Silver Moon" console was another unusual style that had some success

 

                                               

          

                        

                                    This silver moon boasts a rather ugly raised totalisator and gum vendor !!

                            

        The silver moon simply mounted the standard chief mech in a low case and the result was read from the top 

 

                                                                

 

                         The 1946 Challenger Console allowed the player to play 1 or 2 coins at different odds 

                       

                                               Victory Chief                                                          Target Drop

 

                                               

 

               Jennings made a big thing of this feature so perhaps they were the first to come up with it. 

In 1939 Mills introduced the single cherry payout for the first time, Jennings had followed suit by 1941,

                     The Silver club (shown above)  was one of the first to pay on a single cherry          

 

                

                                          Silver Chief                                                    Early silver chief

                                               

                                                                      The "Modern Vendor"

                           

 

                                                                   

                  The very advanced but not very pretty "Modern Vendor" which used some electronic parts was made in                      1940  for use in states that didn't allow gambling but wasn't in production for very long.

 

              

                                        The Sportsman                                                  Jennnings always produced good quality

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                                In 1948/9 Jennings looked to produce the first of a range of machines that were 

                                     to become their most iconic and recognisable  machines, Based on the 

                                     slightly earlier, more rounded design these had straighter crisper lines and

                      although many different variations followed they all retained the same basic look and shape.

 

                                                                            The first was the "solid front"

 

                                                       

                                                          A Selection of the Classic later machines 

                              

                                                                                Governor Tic-Tac-Toe                                             

 

                                

                            1946 Standard Chief                                                       1947 Chinese Front

 

                        

                               Prospector(Monte Carlo)                                                   Buckaroo 4 reeler

 

                  

             For me at least, its hard to find any make of slot machine that looks as good as the Jennings Standard

                   Prospector and its console-mounted brother. If you were told you couldn't win I would still play it

 

                  

                         Constellation  ( Nevada Club )                                     Sun Chief(closed front,ribbed)

 

                  

                          Governor (light up front)                                             Sun Chief (light up front)

               

          Thanks to Paul Olsen for allowing us to use these two photos of his "Buckaroos" the one one the left is labelled                                                                                              as a "Midget Buckaroo"

                    

                Tikki Aku Aku Limited edition specially made for the Stardust Polynesian lounge in Las Vegas, by Slim Ewing at Ewing Enterprises.  The machine pictured here has been very carefully restored to its original condition by the owner, Larry Zeidman, a leading collector and casino machine expert in the USA. and we thank him for letting us use the photos and providing the information on the machine. The Handle is the right "ear"  of the head

                                                

                                                              The Last Of the Jennings machines

 

                                                                       

                                                                                  The Galaxy                                                                     

                                                  Some Galaxy's had UV tubes and florescent           

                                                                 reel strips which worked quite well                 

        *    

                       The 400 Series (sometimes fitted with  "the Skill Stop" buttons) & "The Olympic(?)"

                                                                          in production in 1980 

         These 400's were found packed like this 30 years after they were made, they appear to have been well                                                                        used before storage

  (this photo and that of some of the  400/700* series courtesy of the owner of the machines John Spina) 

 The 400 /700 series was a valid attempt at a circuit board controlled hopper payout machine to meet the new market dominated by Bally but was unreliable and too late on the scene and marks the end of the                                                                      line for Jennings named machines

 

                                

                                             700 series                                                                           400J

                                               *

                                     This 400j and the 700 next to it clearly saw service in the big Vegas hotels

 

       

                                                                     Operators Instruction Sheet (1960's)

                                  

                                                                                            company flyers

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