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Games of Chance: Gambling Devices of the Mechanical Age

New exhibition presents more than sixty examples of early gambling devices, including the first automatic-payout, three-reel slot machine

In no part of the world did gambling take place so openly and on such a large scale than in San Francisco during the Victorian era.  The city’s residents were largely pioneers or one generation removed from those who risked all to relocate and gamble on a new life in the West.  At the beginning of the twentieth century, more than 3,000 gambling devices operated openly, enticing customers from busy sidewalks into the saloons and cigar stores that proliferated throughout San Francisco.  This exhibition illustrates the technological and artistic innovations of more than sixty mechanical gambling machines—from the earliest devices relying on simple clock mechanisms and a payout by the bartender, to automatic slot machines with elaborate carved-wood, cast-iron, or painted-aluminum bodies—each vying for the attention of the next player willing to drop a coin and try their luck.

All objects are courtesy of Joe Welch American Antique Museum in San Bruno, California.

Visit Online Exhibition for more information. #GamesOfChance @SFOMuseum

Games of Chance: Gambling Devices of the Mechanical Age is located in Terminal 3, Boarding Area F from December 10, 2016, to June 18, 2017.  The exhibition is located post-security and is only accessible to passengers ticketed for travel through Terminal 3.  There is no charge to view the exhibition.