Object detail

Accession number
1965.305
Production period
Description
Mechanical totalisator machine; an upright wooden cabinet painted black with two horizontal glass panels painted gold and dark red, through which numbers are displayed. 15 metal foot pedals near base (originally 16; one missing).

This totalisator machine was used by the Auckland Racing Club at Ellerslie prior to the introduction of the world's first automatic totalisator there in 1913. It is entirely mechanical and operated by the use of sixteen foot pedals each of which represented a horse in the current race. The window above each pedal showed the number of bets on each horse while the number at the top was the grand total for the whole race. A bet was put on a horse by pushing the appropriate pedal which added one bet to that horse while, at the same time, the total went up and the bell on top rang. The bell was so an operator could not add bets without being noticed. The drawback was that the ticket sellers had to call out the bets to the operator which was both clumsy and faulty.

These machines were built by various manufacturers, notably Harry H. Hayr in Auckland and William F. James in Dunedin. However there is no record or label identifying the manufacturer of this machine or of the precise date of its manufacture, which is believed to be the early 1900s.
Brief History
Mechanical totalisator machines were used at racecourses throughout New Zealand from 1880 and this example, previously owned and used by the Auckland Racing Club, is one of only 5 surviving early totalisator machines in the world, all of which are in New Zealand. The MOTAT machine is unusual in that it is operated by foot pedals whereas most others were operated by hand cranks.

Larger machines were introduced at bigger race courses in the early 1900s to centralise sales of tickets so that tallies could be kept of total bets on each horse as betting took place. This totalisator is entirely mechanical and operated by the use of sixteen foot pedals each of which represented a horse in the race. The window above each pedal showed the number of bets on each horse while the number at the top was the grand total for the whole race. A bet was put on a horse by pushing the appropriate pedal which added one bet to that horse while, at the same time, the total went up and the bell on top rang. The bell was so an operator could not add bets without being noticed. The drawback was that the ticket sellers had to call out the bets to the operator which was both clumsy and faulty.

All the mathematics was done manually by 'computators'. The totals were then displayed on large boards that were visible to the whole crowd at the race course.

These machines were built by various manufacturers, notably Harry H. Hayr in Auckland and William F. James in Dunedin. However there is no record or label identifying the manufacturer of the MOTAT machine or of the precise date of its manufacture, which is surmised to be the early 1900s.

The first fully automated totalisator, invented by George Julius, was installed at Auckland’s Ellerslie racecourse in 1913, leading to the phasing out of manual machines like this one.
Marks
GRAND TOTAL Painted
Other name
Mechanical Totalisator
Credit Line
Totalisator, 1965.305. The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

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