The vintage gumball machine is among the earliest coin-operated vending machines. The late Victorian Era tinkerers, coming up with every sort of device imaginable, developed gadgets in the 1880s that could dispense gum, breath mints, and candy, as well as pencils, perfume, razor blades, and even toilet paper. Found in train stations, general stores, smoke shops, and pubs, these machines, constructed of wood and metal, were thought of as “silent salesmen,” working 24 hours a day.
In the 1860s, while Thomas Adams was working as secretary to Mexican president Antonio López de Santa Anna (who was living in exile on Staten Island), Adams became fascinated by the white, gummy sap of a tree called Manilkara Chicle, which Santa Anna chewed out of habit. Though Adams failed at his attempts to develop a rubber-like material from the tree, his chewing gum was an instant hit.
He dubbed the first product “Adams’ New York Gum No. 1,” which was sold as small spheres wrapped in colored tissue paper. In 1888, Adams developed a coin-operated vending machine to sell sticks of his popular Black Jack and Tutti-Frutti gums for a penny each. The simple machines were easy to fool and quick to jam, but their strategic placement on the platforms of New York’s elevated trains made them a definite success. By 1907, Adams Sons and Company had designed a more efficient and attractive machine that dispensed spherical balls of gum.
The early-20th-century vending machines that followed looked like what most people think of as old-fashioned gumball machines, with claw feet, florid scroll embellishments made of cast iron, and glass globes that showed off their contents and kept the products fresh. However, the mechanisms that worked these devices were complex and costly to repair.
Gumball machines made in the 1920s and 1930s were built using steel construction or finished with porcelain enamel over cast iron, giving the device a durable and attractive appearance, often in a cheerful fire-engine red.
A particularly collectible machine of that era is the boxy globe-less Ro-bo machine, which is similar to the Pulver machines of the early 1900s that held nodding puppets. In the Ro-bo, once you inserted a penny, a gumball dropped from a display case at the top and then an automated human figurine would pick it up and drop it to you down a chute. Any ’20s gumball machine with such clever automated action is highly sought-after.
During Prohibition, gambling, be it cards or slot machines, was banned along with alcohol. You might be surprised to know that some gumball machines were disposed of, as they were considered a form of gambling. One such outlawed machine, the Hawkeye, was built so that on every 10th pull of its lever, a bell would ring and the customer would get his or her penny back along with the gumball.
The 1930s Ad-Lee E-Z had a marquee attached to the top and contained gum with paper inserted into it through a hole drilled in the center. The customer would compare the score on their piece of paper to the score on the marquee, and receive a prize from the store clerk.
Vending machines got simpler after World War II; they were made of plastic and cheaper metal like aluminum, and their mechanical inner workings were uncomplicated and easy to repair. In the ’50s and ’60s, supermarkets and drugstores usually had gumball machines, branded Ford, Northwestern ’60, Toy ’n Joy, Victor, and Oak Acorn. The last of these, Oak Acorn machines, are still made in designs true to the original, by Oak Manufacturing Co., founded in 1948. For beginners, postwar machines are the easiest to start collecting.
Often, sellers don’t have the keys to vintage gumball machines. However, a locksmith can usually make a key for you. Then, inside, you may find treasure. Of course, odds are, you don’t want to try a 50-year-old piece of gum.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth something—the United States has half a dozen serious chewing gum collectors. Extremely rare sticks of gum like Colgan’s Taffy Tolu Chewing Gum can go for hundreds of dollars, whereas more common gum sticks sell for $35 a piece. Also, the coin box could have wheat pennies, buffalo nickels, or mercury dimes inside it.
Vintage gumball machines are becoming increasingly rare, so you’re likely to find one with a broken globe or missing parts. Peanut machines, which look a lot like gumball machines, can have damage from the nuts’ salt and oil. Collectors who enjoy restoration often look for globes, chutes, and other usable parts.
Beware of reproductions of the vintage gumball machine with reproduction parts like the inexpensive and colorful Carousel brand vintage gumball machine. Look at the casting to see if the item is stamped or marked as a reproduction.
The vintage gumball machine is a fun and entertaining thing to have and can also serve as a source of income. There are various styles and sizes of gumball machines. In addition to gumballs, other hard candy, small toys, and trinkets can also be dispensed from these colorful bulk vending machines for a small fee. There are different reasons why someone might want to own a vintage gumball machine. Whether you are looking for something for commercial purposes or for home and personal use, you will find a large assortment of gumball machines on eBay. This guide will help buyers decide which is the right vintage gumball machine for their needs.
How Gumball Machines Work
Most gumball machines work by inserting a coin or token into a slot called a coin mechanism. The coin mechanism has a knob and a slot for a coin to be dropped into. Turning the knob drops the coin into a cash box and activates a dispensing wheel that allows a gumball or small amount of candy to drop from the machine. A dispensing wheel determines how much product will be released. Dispensing wheels can be adjusted to change the amount of product dispensed. The cashbox is located on the underside or in the back of the gumball machine and can be accessed with a key for collecting cash from the machine. Keys are also needed to load and fill the machine with gumballs.
Commercial Gumball Machines
If you are planning to use your gumball machine as a money maker, you want to be sure and purchase a sturdy, well-made machine that has a cashbox on it. There are several types of commercial gumball machines to select from including countertop and selector style. Many countertop gumball machines can be attached to stands. Stands can hold a single gumball machine or be designed like shelves to hold several machines in a row so buyers have a choice of candy or trinkets being offered from different machines. These are called vending racks. If you are planning to make a business with gumball machines it is important to keep spare parts on hand. Quick repairs will keep the income from the machine coming in. Gumball machines are a popular choice for a vending business.
Free Spin Gumball Machines
Free spin gumball machines are regular machines that have been modified to work without a coin. Some usages for free spin style machines include doctor or dental offices that stock the machines with small prizes or stickers instead of gumballs as a reward for children after their visits. They can also be used at home for game rooms and at birthday parties. There is no special style or type of gumball machine that is needed to create a free spin machine.
Gumball Machines for Home Use
Just like free spin machines, any gumball machine can be used in a residential setting. You don’t have to spend much for a gumball machine that will be used at home for entertainment purposes. Since it won’t get as much use as a commercial machine, it doesn’t have to be heavy duty or tamper resistant. Gumball machines can be used as a bank when setting up in a home setting. Toy gumball machines are a good way for young children to learn the value of money while saving. Small toys can be loaded into gumball machines instead of candy and gumballs.Vending machine toys are placed in capsules that make it easy for the machine to dispense.
THE BEST VINTAGE GUMBALL MACHINE ON THE MARKET
1. Great Northern 15-Inch Vintage Candy Gumball Machine and Bank with Stand, Everyone Loves Gumballs
If you are in the market for stylish vintage gumball machine, stop looking! The Great Northern Gumball Machine and Bank will bring back memories of an old fashion candy shop with the penny gumball machine. This exquisite replica from the 1920s is constructed of premium quality components and is guaranteed authentic by Great Northern–Don’t settle for cheap imitations! The Great Northern Gumball Machine will enhance any decor and is certain to be a conversation piece for years to come. It is perfect for businesses, dorm rooms, kid’s rooms, and it completes your game room/home theater. The base is constructed of a heavy-duty cast metal base and the globe is made of real glass–not cheap plastic. The heavy duty construction provides added stability and feels and prevents the machine from tipping over like some of the inferior units sold in the marketplace. Great Northern has incorporated an innovative dispensing mechanism which is fully adjustable so you can vary the amount of candy/gum that is dispensed when you turn the handle. In addition, there is a unique anti-spill cover which will keep your candy/gum in the tray and not on the floor. The machine also operates as a bank and has proven to be an effective tool for teaching kids how to save money.Features / Specifications: Real glass gumball machine globe–not cheap plastic Premium Construction. Cast metal gumball machine base, lid, and coin mechanism Accepts any coins (quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies) Includes instructions for “free spin” to work without coins Works as a gumball bank – retrieve coins when full Anti-spill gumball dispenser with door cover Dispenses small gumballs (.62-inch or smaller), candy, or nuts Gumball capacity: 5-pound of .62-inch gumballs Dispenses Gumballs, Peanuts, Jellybeans & More Choking Hazard – Not for children under 3-year Color: Classic red finish Weight: 4-pound. Machine Only Dimensions: 15-inch H by 8-inch WMachine on Stand Dimensions: 37-inch H by 8-inch WFull 1 Year Warranty.
2. Old Fashioned Vintage Candy Gumball Bank Machine, Gumball Machine
This is another vintage gumball machine from The Great Northern Gumball Machine and Bank.
Cast metal gumball machine base, lid, and coin mechanism
Accepts any coins (quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies)
Works as a gumball bank – retrieve coins when full
Anti-spill gumball dispenser with door cover
3. Vintage Gumball Machine with Stand – Antique Gumball Machines
Large Gumball Bank Our largest Gumball Bank combines a 7.5″(19.05 cm) cast metal base with a 7.5″(19.05 cm) clear glass globe for an impressive 15″(38.1 cm) height. The solid cast metal base gives it a substantial feel and stability. The internally threaded metal bottom plate can be mounted on top of the cast metal floor stand, which is 23″(58.42 cm) tall, bringing the overall height to 38″(96.52 cm) with both Gumball Bank and Stand. The dispensing mechanism is adjustable to vary a number of candies or gumballs dispensed and an anti-spill cover keeps those candies or gumballs in the tray. Classic Red Finish Designer metal stand in Black This bank takes pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Or, it or can be adjusted for free dispensing Holds 62 oz of candy or 1/2″ Gumballs. TWO tubs of 1/2″ Junior gumballs (Item 2117-T) fill this bank approximately 1 time.
4. Vintage Bubble Gum Gumball Machine Trinket Box phb
As a conclusion, gumball machines can be used for commercial or residential use. There are various styles of gumball machines that range in price. Commercial machines should be a bigger investment than machines that will be used for home or play purpose. Small toys, as well as candy and gumballs, can be dispensed from a gumball machine. Machines can easily be repaired with replacement parts. Cash boxes are recommended for gumball machines that will be used for vending business purposes. The vintage gumball machine is a fun way to earn and save money.