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Liberty Bell Slot

History of Charles Fey and the Liberty Bell Slot Machine

Charles Fey was the inventor of the first ever mechanical reel slot which was invented in 1895. The car mechanic by trade, created a simple three reel spinning machine. The slot machine was made of 100 pounds of cast iron and featured 10 symbols on each reel with a diamond, spade or heart symbols on the reels in addition to a cracked liberty bell symbol.

The machine was pretty simple to use, and if a player lined up all three liberty bells it would award a payout of up to fifty cents, making it the first of its kind. Although there had been machines which were dubbed games of chance predating the Liberty Bell, they never had the ability to actually award a real payout. 

Due to current laws at the time, Fey was unable to patent his machine and wound up renting them to local saloons and pubs charging a 50% commission fee, additionally he used symbols for free drinks and/or awarded gum to get around the gambling laws which prohibited gambling machines.

As time passed operators were having problems with players cheating the machine by inserting fake coins (also where the term wooden nickels developed from). To prevent this, Fey introduced the first detecting pin, which had the ability to distinguish real coins from the fakes. His slot machine became a massive hit which led to problems of supply and demand. Other large companies approached him to purchase the rights to manufacture his Liberty Bell, but Fey would not sell. Eventually an arcade company named Herbert Mills was able to produce a replica to the Liberty Bell and named it the Operator Bell which became one of the first fruit slot machines created. The only difference between the two slots, other than the fruit symbols was the Operator Bell had a total of 20 symbols painted on each reel.

Eventually Charles Fey opened up his own shop, named the Liberty Bell Saloon located in Reno Nevada. They provided a restaurant setting with a complete slots museum on the second floor of the saloon. The museum featured the original Liberty Bell slot as well as a collection over more than 200 antique slot machines. After Charles Fey passed away his grandsons took over the family business however closed the saloon in 1995. The original Liberty Bell slot machine is still available today, although no longer in play the slot it can be found at in a museum in Reno Nevada.

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