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SOLD – Antique Italian Gambling Machine


Antique crap game, it’s the Italian version of the French “Epatant”.

Dice games like this, with their relatively simple internal mechanism, were amongst the earliest trade stimulators, and were known as “zanzibars” or “zanzi-bars”. Pushing a 5 centime coin into the slot caused the green circular plate inside the glass dome to vibrate vigorously, thus “throwing” the dice. This model, called “L’Epatant” was manufactured by Charles Barrier in Lyon around 1900.

There were two ways of playing – either against another patron, or alone against the
barman. In the first case, the highest score won, and the loser was
required to buy the winner a drink. In the second, more usual, scenario a customer played alone against the barman, and depending on the fall of the dice, could win a drink of the value specified on the scorecard. Effectively this was gambling, but
since the winnings were paid in the form of a drink, rather than in
cash, the anti-gambling statutes of the era (“Non si giuoca per denari”) were circumvented.

The scoring guide explained the rules of the game, and listed the prices of the drinks that could be won. Although the tariffs look enticingly attractive, in reality, as with all gambling machines, the odds were heavily stacked in favour of the house. It’s statistically most likely that the total score of 5 dice rolled simultaneously will lie in the range 11 to 23 – and it’s generally these numbers, apart from the cunningly included 15, which didn’t pay out, resulting in the patron losing his 5 centimes bet.
In perfect working condition, it’s tall 28 cm.

Price: 0 €

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Contact by phone

Alessandro Molinengo
phone: +39 342 7093527

Fausto Gazzi
phone: +39 335 6485094

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