Kronespill: Norway's Flick-a-Coin Game
My family's 1966 summer vacation began in Norway, where we saw an unusual game among many more noteworthy sights. A snapshot reminded me of the game, but I could not discover any more about it for 40 years.
Thanks to the Internet, to Google's instant language translation, and especially to web sites in Norway and Finland, I finally learned that the game is called Kronespill in Norway—roughly Flick-a-Coin. I learned how it worked and I played a Flash simulation of its Finnish counterpart called Pajatso or Payazzo.
We saw Kronespill games in Oslo, Bergen, and other cities we visited. My father photographed me with the game at the Sognefjord ferry. I do not recall whether the game was on the ferry or at the terminal. It would be more difficult to play a Kronespill on a rocking ferryboat.
A player drops a 10 øre coin into the slot at the top right of a Kronespill games. The coin rolls down an incline into a ring shaped holder protruding from the right side of the game. The player quickly pushes the ring with his or her finger to flick the coin onto the playfield above the gates. The coin may bounce around before dropping into one of the gates or falling between the gates.
The most common outcome (and my personal outcome) is that the coin falls between the gates onto an inclined ramp below. The ramps direct the coin toward columns of coins. The coin drops into the first unfilled column it encounters. If all coin columns along its path are full, the coin continues rolling into a chute that leads to the coin box inside the game. Collected coins help fund the Norwegian Red Cross.
A skilled or lucky player may flick the coin into one of the seven gates at the top of the playfield. Each gate leads the coin into a chute behind the playfield that leads back onto the playfield above an empty channel below. The coin drops down the empty channel to strike a latch that releases one or two coins from the adjacent column. The player's original coin and the released coins drop into a reward tray at the bottom of the game.
How Kronespill Works
Refer to the diagram to understand how Kronespill rewards a coin flicked into the 30-20 gate. Coins (A) stack up between guide rails (B, C) atop pivoting coin stop (D) secured by latch (E). Flicked coin (F) drops between guide rails (G, H), striking latch (I), which releases pivoting coin stop (J). Stacked coins (K) drop down between guide rails (L, G) to coin stop (J). Coin (F) continues down channel (N) into the reward tray (not shown). Meanwhile, the weight of coin (K) will pivot coin stop (J) back to engage latch (I). Coin (K) will fall to the left, usually between guide rails (C, N) to release an additional coin (A).
Each Kronespill gate provides a variation on the basic action. The gates from left to right are:
- 0-30: Five coins from this gate accumulate in the leftmost column without reward to the player. The sixth coin spills to the right over the low guide rail into the adjacent empty column, where it releases two of the accumulated coins via a double sized coin stop.
- 20: Coins from this gate release one coin.
- 30-20: Coins from this gate release one coin, which may release a second coin as described by the diagram above.
- 50-30: Coins from this gate release two coins apiece from the two adjacent columns via double sized coin stops.
- The gates on the right side mirror the gates on the left side.
Kronespill's origins begin in the late 1920s in Germany with a game named Blau Wunder. This game introduced all of the elements of Kronespill: flicking a coin into gates to release other coins stacked in columns.
In Finland, Blau Wunder and similar games were called Pajatso, which was anglicized as Payazzo. Finland restricted gambling machines to support charities in 1933 and formed the state-owned RAY: Raha-automaattiyhdistys (Slot Machine Association) in 1938—a monopoly to manufacture and operate the games. Ray continues to make and operate Payazzo and other games, and distributes their profits to various charities.
Between 1937 and 1947, Finland exported about 1800 Payazzo 5-øre games to Norway, where they were called Kronespill and operated exclusively for the benefit of the Norwegian Red Cross. The 10-øre game I played was one of about 1350 such games built by master cabinetmaker Sverre Damm in Oslo between 1947 and 1967. He subsequently built Kronespill for larger denomination coins to keep up with inflation.
Beginning in 1970, Norway imported about 9000 games from RAY in Finland. By the end of the century, electronic games were offering faster play and higher payouts, leading some players into gambling addictions. New restrictions were enacted in 1995 and 2001. Most of the old Kronespill games were destroyed in 2007, with the exception of a few games preserved by museums and collectors.
In Britain, Bell Fruit made a similar game named Cascade. Its name came from the arrangement of latches beneath the columns. Coins flicked into the leftmost gates trip latches to release coins that cascade rightward to trip latches that release coins in adjacent columns.
You can experience the fun of Kronespill by playing the excellent Flash simulation of a RAY T5 Payazzo game at http://nostalgiapelit.servut.us/pajatso.html.