Ever wondered who has the largest pinball machine collection? Well keep on reading to find out!
Michael Schiess owns one of the largest pinball machine collections in the world with more than 1,700 machines in one location – at the Pacific Pinball Museum. Michael plays as well performs the necessary maintenance and he is almost obsessed with the machines and his collection. With a lot of support and donations from fans, he has managed to collect some of the earliest machines from the 1800s to the latest digital masterpieces.
The Largest Pinball Machine Collection
The museum was founded in 2004 by Michael Schiess, a former museum exhibition designer. Schiess started collecting pinball machines in 2001. He decided to open his own museum after being unimpressed with the coverage of pinball history at other museums. One of his first major acquisitions was thirty-six machines in one purchase. Fourteen of them were installed in a rented room, which Schiess called Lucky Ju Ju, in Alameda and a jar was placed out for donations. In 2004 the facility expanded and became a nonprofit, renaming itself the Pacific Pinball Museum. The museum expanded in 2009 displaying forty woodrail and wedge head machines from the collection of Larry Zartarian. The museum has a gift shop that sells pinball themed merchandise. It also has a museum board, and two additional staff members besides Schiess.
The museum’s exhibitions include approximately ninety pinball machines ranging from 1879 until today. They are arranged in chronological order. In total, Schiess’ collection comprises 800 machines. Those not on display are maintained at an 8,000-square-foot secret location.] Upon paying the admission fee, visitors can play any of the machines on display. The oldest machine, from 1879, is a Montague Redgrave Parlor Bagatelle. Contemporary machines include The Addams Family and the Twilight Zone. The museum also has a transparent pinball machine from 1976 that was built by Schiess and Wade Krause. It is based on the Gottlieb “Surf Champ” game. One of the most valued pieces in the collection is a 1930s-era Art Deco machine called the Bally Bumper. The machine was seized by police in Oakland during Prohibition. The museum’s collection has also been displayed at San Francisco International Airport.
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