Chicago Express Review

Daval Manufacturing Company

March 1934
February 1935
January 1938

The March 23rd, 1935 issue of Billboard:

20th century speed was shown recently when the first Chicago Express table game came off the production line and was rushed via the fast 20th Century Train to the Modern Vending Company here.

Al S. Douglis and David Helfenbein were in the jobbing business in Chicago and formed Daval (Dave with Al) in 1932. They produced a string of games, including Shooting Star, Big Bertha, and American Beauty, totaling 39 by the time they ceased production in 1939.

Chicago Express 1938

Chicago Express 1938

I wrote the article about the Chicago Express long ago. In March of 2007, Paul Harwod sent me the following message:

I have a 1938 Chicago Express pinball machine, which I have had in storage for many years. I recently dug it out and have been trying to research its history. Whilst trying to research my pinball, I came across your website feature on the 1938 Chicago express.

However, my machine appears to be different to the one featured. I have attached some photographs of my machine which is definitely manufactured by Daval and has similar features on the playfield i.e.. the metal bridge etc, but features quite different graphics. The backglass states 1938 Chicago Express.

I wonder if you can assist me to identify this machine in any way. I have been unable to finds it photographed in any of my books or on any internet sites. I would be grateful for any information you may be able to offer. I must say that I have enjoyed viewing your website and have found it most informative.

I have to admit to being surprised when viewing the pictures. The bridge was obviously identical and the layout similar. It was the backglass and the playfield graphics that stunned me. I found the art absolutely beautiful. The three dimensional nature of the art and the obvious art deco influence took my breath away. I am not ususally taken by pinball machine artwork. This game changed my perspective.

Paul mentioned an additional detail that adds to my appreciation. Apparently there is a pin ball in the backglass that goes back and forth behind the train, making the windows appear to flicker. I would love to see that!

I have included a picture of the original 1934 version of the game for comparison purposes at the end of this page. I also note there is no reference to the 1938 game in Mueting and Hawkins Pinball Collectors Resource. I knew about the 1938 version when I wrote the original article as I mention the 1938 release at the very beginning. However I do not remember where I found that information.

Chicago Express 1938 backglass
Chicago Express 1938 backglass
Chicago Express 1938
Chicago Express 1938 front

Original Chicago Express (Daval, 1934)

view of playfield