DENVER, PENN. — Dan Morphy, president and founder of Morphy Auctions, on August 1, confirmed his company’s acquisition of Victorian Casino Antiques (VCA), a Las Vegas, Nev.-based auction house renowned for its sales of vintage gambling/coin-op machines and antique advertising. The purchase adds the Western-states presence Morphy has long believed was essential to solidifying his firm’s reputation as a national auction house.
“We are now a coast-to-coast business,” Morphy said. “Las Vegas is California’s playground and is only a four-hour drive from Los Angeles. It will be a convenient destination for both consignors and bidders from the West Coast.”
Victorian Casino Antiques’ long-established corporate name will be retained, with the new tagline “a Morphy Auctions company.” VCA’s current staff of 15 employees will continue in their present roles. Additional staff will be hired as the Las Vegas operation expands.
“Morphy’s is a full-service auction house. We sell everything, including fine and decorative art, furniture, antique guns and now, with opening of our newest division, classic cars. Las Vegas needs an experienced auction house that can handle all types of antiques and estate goods in addition to the specialty categories that Victorian Casino and Morphy’s share in common. We will be fulfilling a need in the local community, while at the same time serving consignors from surrounding states,” Morphy said.
Peter Sidlow, 77, has served as president of VCA since 2002 and will continue in that role. Sidlow said the sale of his company to Morphy’s has reinvigorated him.
“I will be working for Morphy’s, which is a top-notch organization that I’m thrilled to be part of. But instead of being involved with day-to-day operations as I was before, much of my job, now, will consist of representing the company at shows and seeking out and securing consignments,” said Sidlow. “I’ve been a collector for over 70 years, and because of the many contacts I’ve made along the way, I can bring in some great collections. I know where they are.”
Morphy praised Sidlow and his staff, describing them as “a first-class team.”
“I’ve watched Peter Sidlow for years and have had nothing but admiration for him. He has a vast knowledge in so many categories. Before purchasing Victorian Casino, he built one of the country’s premier classic car collections, for example. Also, I like the way Peter runs his sales. He has a great relationship with his employees, who are devoted to him. If ever there were an ideal merger of business models, it’s the one that brings together the teams and ideals of Morphy’s and Victorian Casino. I’m very confident the blending of our two companies will be an easy transition, because we both do business the same way.”
Morphy said his goal will be to “take Peter away from the nuts and bolts of running the back end of the business and put him on the road so he can meet with clients and talk to people at shows,” adding, “That’s how I changed my own role at Morphy’s Pennsylvania headquarters, and it made a very positive and tangible difference.”
Typically, VCA conducts three to four auctions annually, with each containing an eclectic mix of gambling and coin-op machines, antique advertising, jukeboxes, game room items and other novelties. These events draw large crowds of bidders to the VCA gallery, a phenomenon that defies the growing trend seen in most other parts of the country.
“Auctions have gravitated more and more toward the Internet, but we’ve continued to attract live audiences because people view Las Vegas as a destination,” said Sidlow. “They come for the auction, but they stay on to enjoy the many other things you can do in Las Vegas.” Bidders who cannot attend in person will be able to participate in all VCA/Morphy auction events by phone, absentee or through their choice of five online-bidding platforms, including Morphy Live.
The first Victorian Casino auction jointly produced with Morphy Auctions will take place September 19–21. The 1,700-lot sale will feature approximately 100 antique and vintage gambling machines from the storied collection of the late William F. Harrah (1911–1978), founder of Harrah’s Hotel and Casinos. The collection was retained by Harrah’s corporation after his death and later became the property of Caesar’s Entertainment Corporation. Many of the machines were kept in storage, while others were displayed in Caesar’s executive offices. Most recently, the collection was acquired by VCA, specifically for inclusion in the September auction.
“The Harrah collection we will be selling is relatively small, but the excitement value is very large,” said Sidlow. “The Harrah name is legendary.” Among the collection’s highlights is a 1904 Caille roulette floor machine that may fetch $150/250,000.
Morphy plans a January 24–25 coin-op and advertising sale at the Las Vegas gallery. The company’s first West Coast classic car auction is tentatively scheduled for March, also at the Las Vegas premises. Other auctions in the immediate pipeline for the Vegas gallery will focus on antique firearms and fine and decorative art.