Toy, The Little Bandit

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Throughout much of the nineteenth and twentieth century, gambling was illegal in many American states. However, entrepreneurs developed ways of selling games of chance. For example, Indiana-born games salesman and real estate developer Edwin S. Lowe of New York City and later Long Island developed a form of Lotto (played as Beano and then Bingo) and of the slot machine that were played in the home. This is an example of Lowe’s game “The Little Bandit” which had the form and some of the features of a slot machine.
The plastic toy has three wheels carrying various images printed on paper. These rotate in one direction when a metal lever on the side moves forward and in the reverse direction when the lever moves back. Different final arrays of images are worth different numbers of points. The machine can be played in the form of solitaire, in which the number of points accumulated in twenty-five spins must be above a given total (25, according to the instructions). One also may play with competing players. A leaflet of instructions and the toy fit in a cardboard box.
A mark on the back of the toy reads: LITTLE BANDIT (/) PAT. PEND (/) E.S. LOWE CO., INC. (/) NEW YORK MADE IN USA. A mark on the front of the box reads: THE LITTLE BANDIT (/) TRADEMARK. Another mark there reads: WATCH (/) “EM SPIN (/) PAYS OFF (/) IN (/) FUN. A third mark there reads: No. 25 (/) SLOT (/) MACHINE.
E. S. Lowe Company proved more successful with sales of Bingo and of the game of Yahtzee. Milton Bradley acquired the firm in 1973.
W. Ecenbarger, “Bingo!” Chicago Tribune, February 15, 1987, p. D1, D10.
Art Harris, “Appreciation: The Bingo Baron Edwin Lowe, a True Gamesman,” Washington Post, February 28, 1986, p. C1.
“Merchandise Topics,” The Billboard, May 26, 1951, p. 72. This article notes that The Little Bandit was then for sale.
L. Vangelder, “From Game Boards to Show Business,” New York Times, September 20, 1981, p. 132.
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1952
E.S. Lowe Co., Inc.
place made
United States: New York, New York
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
paper (box, instructions material)
metal (arm material)
overall: 7 cm x 6.5 cm x 4.5 cm; 2 3/4 in x 2 9/16 in x 1 25/32 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of Edith R. Meggers
Mathematical Recreations
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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