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Peculiarities #7

November 3, 2017






In 1972, I joined a few of my UCLA buddies on a trip to the Nuart Theater in Santa Monica to see Harold and Maude. When the movie ended we walked down the street and passed an antique/junk store. A wooden gumball machine in the window caught my eye. It’s hard to explain why something calls out to you but this gumball machine spoke to me, wanted to go home with me. My friends laughed at me for even wanting it. The price was thirty dollars, but I only had twenty after blowing a sawbuck on my ticket, candy and popcorn. The owner of the store sold it to me for twenty dollars and I’ve had it ever since.




My gumball machine



I’ve done a little online research and I’ve learned a few things about my gumball machine. It was made in the late 30s or early 40s by the Victor Vending Company in Chicago. The style is called a Baby Grand Counter Top Gumball Machine. The side windows are Bakelite, a precursor to plastic. I’ve learned that these machines are valued based on condition, decorative quality of the decal on the glass, and whether or not the lock and key are original, which mine appear to be.


According to the Internet, gumball machines are extremely collectable, and mine is worth $150-$200, so my little investment will turn a profit if I ever decide to part with it. The gumballs inside are nearly thirty years old. Anyone care for one? Ignore that one cent sign. Now they cost a quarter!





This one is being offered on the Internet for $150.


Have you seen one of these before?




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Probably break your jaw if you try to eat those gumballs.
By: PT Dilloway on November 3, 2017
very cool!
By: Kathe W. on November 3, 2017
I bet the American Pickers would kill for that machine.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on November 3, 2017
Your post reminds me of the television show 'American Pickers'.
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 3, 2017
I would have wanted them gumball machine, too. But I'm really relieved to know the gumballs are ONLY 30 years old and not 80 years old (although maybe it would be worth even more).
By: Mitchell Is Moving on November 3, 2017
I remember gumball machines from when I was a kid, but they didn't look like yours, which is way cool. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on November 3, 2017
I remember them, too!!
By: fishducky on November 3, 2017
I dropped many a coin in one of those though the ones I remember were round. Think I'd be really temped to try one--even at their advanced age but I'd keep my dentist on speed dial.
By: Arkansas Patti on November 3, 2017
Yes, i have seen those, although the free standing ones were more common when i was a child, and still just a penny, a nickel if you wanted the big gumball. Perhaps it called to you because it's a reminder of a simpler time, when a penny was all you needed for a treat.
By: messymimi on November 3, 2017
That's so cool!!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on November 3, 2017
Well it doesn't surprise me that you have a good eye, Stephen. As long as I have been visiting your blog, you have always displayed this trait. Take care.
By: Mr. Shife on November 3, 2017
I've never seen one like that. Way cool! I'll have to show Hick and ask if he's seen one.
By: Val on November 3, 2017
It will be your son that takes the profit I am guessing.
By: Tabor on November 3, 2017
What's the best before date on the gum balls?
By: red on November 3, 2017
I have never seen one of those, I like it though and think you got a bargain at twenty bucks. Very cool Stephen.
By: Jimmy on November 3, 2017
Haven't seen one that old. Is it operational? If so, I'd refresh the gumballs and use it ... would be fun!
By: tom sightings on November 3, 2017
That is a very cool gumball machine. I've never seen one like that. I understand how it appealed to you. You know, those "antique" gumballs may have value in their own right. Maybe even in a food research lab.
By: Tom Cochrun on November 3, 2017
We still have one that one of the kids made at school. Not coin operated, obviously, but it seems gumball machines are still a regular woodworking project.
By: Botanist on November 4, 2017
Having the original gumballs may increase the value of your machine.
By: Catalyst on November 4, 2017
I've never seen one before but I can see the appeal, but I'll pass on the gum ball thanks. But if it were me I'd be selling it on eBay.ð
By: L L Cool Joe on November 4, 2017
I like it! I'm sure you could fill it with fresh gum balls and not lose the value of the machine.
By: cranky on November 5, 2017
I love that, glad you got it for $20. I have a little Jelly Belly gumball machine. It's fun, but not nearly as classic as that one.
By: Robyn Engel on November 5, 2017

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