The Raznick Penny Arcade
There aren’t many things you can get for a penny these days, in fact, one could venture to say that you can’t get anything, unless of course you are Rob Raznick. For Raznick, so long as he is among his expansive and extremely rare collection of coin operated amusements, a pocket full of copper Lincolns could entertain him for hours – if not – days. It’s a fascination that began in his childhood. Not that he grew up in the era obviously, most of his collection were already far beyond vintage when he was born. But occasional childhood encounters for the So-Cal native and Hidden Hills resident at places like Knotts Berry Farm, Pacific Ocean Park and Calico Ghost Town were enough to hook him.
“I had a passion for amusements early on,” says Raznick. “I knew I wanted to collect them.”
So after picking up a machine here or there with what he could scrape together, Raznick partnered with a huge collector about three decades ago who had the wherewithal to bid for entire rooms of antiques. As part of the deal for running down the opportunities, Raznick would get a commission and keep a machine or two for himself. Eventually, it was Raznick buying out the entirety of the rooms.
Today, Raznick is one of the world’s foremost collectors of coin operated antique amusements, with David Copperfield being one of the few other aficionados that can even come close. The size and assortment of Raznick’s collection changes constantly, as the collectors in this community will often trade with one another, but on average there are scores of machines in Raznick’s arcade, any one of which would be a rare prize.
“For every machine you see here,” says Raznick, “I’ve had ten others. I’ve bought, sold, traded to get the ones I really want. The best of the best.”
And not only are all of them operational, but they also have all of the extremely rare and detailed accessories that come with them. Some play moving pictures and have a variety of stories that can be swapped in, each with every frame intact. Others are automated bands sporting dueling violins that can accentuate vibrato at all the precise moments. There is a Wurlitzer from a carousel and characters from “It’s a Small World.”
If there’s any question as to why Raznick would devote such considerable focus on a collection of this caliber, one only needs to spend a moment in the arcade with him to understand. When the coin drops in and the music comes on and the characters come to life, Raznick is the most animated of all the classics in the room. His deep-rooted wonder for both the artistry of each piece, as well as the childlike emotions they conjure are as clear as the smile on his face.
“I’ve had a love and fascination for coin operated amusement devices and old penny arcades my entire life. My hope now is that we can keep it going and encourage our next generation to become interested in the passion.”
Check out the gallery below of Raznick’s incredible Penny Arcade!