Antique Fortune Teller Machines Fetch A Hefty Price!


I’m a big fan of the old fashioned machines like this one. This article is excerpted from a longer one in The Courier-Journal, published on January 24, 2014. Listen to The Collectors Show on Web Talk Radio (www.webtalkradio.net).

Antique machines like this one can be worth as much as $9,000.00.

Antique machines like this one can be worth as much as $9,000.00.

Fortune tellers have been popular for centuries. In the United States, many 20th-century amusement parks had fortune teller machines that enticed customers. Put a coin (or, in later years, a dollar bill) in the slot, and the life-size figure in the glass-fronted booth nodded and moved mouth, hands and even eyes while giving you a card telling your future. The most famous fortune teller machine is the 100-year-old Zoltar, the exotic figure featured in the movie “Big.” He turned a boy into a grown-up Tom Hanks. But many machines featured female gypsy fortune tellers dressed in appropriate clothes.

The most famous of these is Esmeralda, a machine that has been made by several manufacturers, many of them unknown, since the early 1900s. An Esmeralda even sits on Main Street in Disneyland. She moves, hands out a fortune card and then winks. The rarest fortune-telling machine known today was discovered in a restaurant in Virginia City, Mont., about seven years ago. It’s about 100 years old and spoke to you in a 100-year-old voice if you inserted a coin. The machine is said to be worth more than $2 million. Vintage fortune teller machines sell for thousands of dollars. New ones are being made today and can cost $9,000 or more.

4 responses to “Antique Fortune Teller Machines Fetch A Hefty Price!

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  3. My boss has a fortune teller machine – very unique, very unusual – that hailed from a carnival at Lake Pontchartrain, near New Orleans. She believes it to be around 80 years old, based on how long it has been in her family, but due to a lack of clear manufacturer plate on the machine, we are having difficulty getting it valued. We also have no idea what kind of dealer we could sell this through. If any of you has any advice on who we could contact to take a look at this thing, we’d be super grateful. We are based in New York City, so if it’s local, even better! Thanks in advance for your time.
    Rae (rae.jgpa@gmail.com)

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