Italian arcade manufacturer Zaccaria holds a special place in collectors’ hearts over here in Europe. At one point, they were the third largest producer of pinball machines after Williams and Bally, and were also renowned for their video game releases during the 70s and 80s. As well as some of their own in-house developed games, they had the foresight to secure licences for many popular games over the years – Zaccaria versions of Frogger, Super Cobra and the like are not uncommon.
Owned by three brothers, the company had a reputation for creating some of the most iconic arcade artwork of the era. Their cabs have a very distinctive look, allowing them to stand out from the crowd. This has made Zaccaria cabinets highly collectible today.
I’ll pencil in a more detailed article on the company at some point in the future, but meantime, here’s a great arcade raid story to share with you, along with some eye-watering pictures.
Like many raids, this one started out rather inconspicuously. Hungarian collector Peter Weiszenburger had an old jukebox he wanted to sell, and so listed it on a local auction website just a couple of months ago. Out of the blue, he received an email from someone who said he was a former arcade operator. The guy explained that he had some arcade stuff hat he wanted to get rid of, and wondered if Peter might be interested. As you’d expect, Peter was intrigued enough to reply.
After exchanging details and getting some directions, Peter drove to Ordacsehi, a small village in rural Hungary sitting on the banks of Lake Balaton. It was explained to him that the operator grew up in the village with his mother, and that the cabinets in question were placed there some 20 years ago, after his arcade had closed down. They had not been touched since.
The operator left out a few details as Peter discovered when he arrived at the location:
It could be argued that the property was in a state of disrepair! Made up of two buildings, a cottage and an outside barn, time had not been kind to either:
Half of the cottage had collapsed in on itself, and the barn’s roof had caved in. Peter wondered if he had a wasted trip on his hands. But determined to find the cabinets that the operator had described he got stuck in and found what he was looking for:
Sure enough, amongst the rubble and destruction, arcade cabinets were there sitting in the gloom. And what’s more, closer inspection revealed exactly what they were:
Peter realised that the distinctive artwork visible on the cabinets was the work of Zaccaria.
Going further into the building, Peter discovered pinball machines and a cocktail table:
Despite their condition, they were definitely worth saving. Along with a friend, Peter started the dangerous job of hauling everything out into the daylight:
These three looked especially nice considering their ordeal:
But there was more work to do. So far gone was the roof, that two pinball machines had to be literally dug out of the ground!
But they got them! The total haul consisted of 8 video games, 2 pinball machines and a pair of cocktail tables:
Not everything could be saved. One cabinet was literally holding up what was left of the barn roof and had to remain. Trying to extract it would have simply been too dangerous. A good haul of parts was salvaged from the mess too:
The good news is that what was saved from this Hungarian village is for the most part pretty solid and restorable.
Many thanks go to Peter for allowing me to share these pictures with you, and for doing what he could to save these very special arcade cabinets. Great work sir!
Thanks also to Bela Harcsa for his translation duties and assistance in pulling this article together.
More arcade raid stories to come! See you next week.