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Punch boards were originally used in the 18th century for gambling purposes.  A local tavern owner would construct a game board out of wood, drill small holes in it, and fill each hole with a small paper ticket or game piece.  The holes were then typically covered with paper or foil.  After a patron bought a chance at the punch board, they would puncture one of the hole's paper or foil covers with a nail and retrieve the ticket or game piece.  If the game piece contained a winning number, the patron won the prize.
   In the nineteenth century, board operators eventually 


drilled into their own holes (they knew

where the big money was because

they made the board). As a result, the

punch board's use started to decline. 

In the late 1800s, a new type of

punchboard was introduced. This

one involved putting paper on both

the front and back of the hole (to

help prevent operators from

cheating).  These new punch

boards became popular purchases

at drugstores, and they were sold

with a metal stylus.  The punch

board soon became increasingly

popular.  The punch board soon

became cheap and easier to assemble, and the

industry flourished. An estimated 30 million punchboards were sold in the years between 1910 and 1915.  50                million punch boards were sold in 1939 alone, during          the peak of their popularity.
         After World War II, use of the punch board as a                gambling tool began to wane because many people          frowned at its gambling-like nature, and the punch                board was outlawed in many states.  The use of                  punch boards for advertisement started to gain                   popularity.  Many companies started hiding goods                such as bottles of beer and cigarettes inside                      punch boards. Zippo lighters reportedly sold more               than 300,000 lighters through punch board                         advertising between 1934 and 1940.  People                      have been cheating on punchboards ever since                  they were first invented. Many operators know                    where the big prize holes are; they used to                           create punch boards with very few holes so they                 could easily track the big money.  Other                                gamblers could make a dirty deal with the                          customers: give the customer a "map" of where                   the big prizes are on the "map" of where the big


prizes are on the punchboard. This was eventually prevented by the use of serial numbers: the customer would present the slip to the operator, and if the serial numbers matched, the customer was declared a winner.
  I received an offer from a customer to sell a gunnysack full of punch boards 35 years ago.  There were 33 punch boards inside the bag..  Here are 3 images of what I found inside.  Each was wrapped in plain paper on the outside.  All the statistics related to the punch board were written on the attached label as you can see on the wrapped punch board.  These examples are thought to be 65-75 years old.  Each is also wrapped with cellophane. 

Dick McNicholas 
Pinball Backglass

Coast Special punch boArd.jpg

Punch Boards

Punch Board in protective paper_edited.png
detail label.jpg


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