‘Slot Machines’ by Marshall Fey – Book Review

Slot Machines A pictorial history of the First 100 Years, is Marshall Fey’s masterpiece of slot machine history. This Sixth Edition is 256 pages, with plenty of narrative about the evolution of coin-op gaming devices into what is considered to be the first true slot machine, Charles Fey’s 1899 Liberty Bell. Author Marshall Fey brings his family’s history of success and struggles with the new age of slot machines to life and treats the reader to photos of the family’s heirlooms – the very slot machines and gaming devices the book is all about.

High Points

Large 9×12 format

630 photographs

Authored by the grandson of the inventor of the 3-reel slot machine. Marshall Fey has a pleasant, easy to read style of writing and fills the pages in an intriguing directness.

Low Points

It’s hard to fault a book with over 600 photos, but there is no uniformity to the photo layouts. Some pages contain photos in borders, some bleed to the page edge, some have backgrounds and some “float” on the page.


Slot Machines by Marshall Fey was first released in 1983 and is now in its Sixth Edition.

256 Pages, over 600 photos

Publisher: Liberty Belle Books

Guide Review – ‘Slot Machines’ by Marshall Fey – Book Review

Photo Courtesy of (Liberty Belle Books)

1899 Liberty Bell Slot Machine

Photo Courtesy of (Liberty Belle Books)

Slot Machines starts right out with the “anything goes” era of San Francisco’s growing population in the late 1890’s. Marshall Fey delves into coin operated gaming devices built during the time and provides photographs of many of the actual machines from the last decade of the 1800’s.

As author Fey’s grandfather, Charles Fey, struggled to support his family, San Francisco became a haven for all types of gaming devices which grew in popularity among the many bars, clubs and cigar stores in the sprawling city. Fey takes the reader through the invention of the first reel-type machine, Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell, and the race to produce enough machines to supply the growing demand for his new invention.

Later chapters follow the evolution of slot machines as manufacturers copied the Fey machine and produced their own slots to stay competitive. Over 600 photos accompany the many chapters that take the reader on a 100-year journey through the Roaring Twenties, the Golden Age of slots, the post war boom, and the move into electro-mechanical and electronic slot machines.

Short chapters also include advice on collecting, restoration, how machines work, and how the mathematics of chance and payoffs are arrived at for new machines. While Slot Machines was not the first book to concentrate on slot machines, it is informatively written by a knowledgeable source and provides more for the reader than most other books about gaming devices.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.