Early slots, girlie, gumball & salted peanuts machines
  • Gumball machine with lamp
  • Classic pinball machines & their colorful graphics
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    Auction Finds

    Enough gumball machines to open an arcade

    The scene was right out of a child’s candy-laced dream. Several long tables were topped with gumball machines containing small balls of red, yellow, blue, orange and all the other colors of the rainbow. Just as many of the machines were also set up on the floor – them, too, filled with goodies.

    There were about 75 of them, so impressive and visually enticing that they automatically entranced many of us auction-goers as we walked through the door of the large room at the auction house. I watched as one couple wrote down the numbers of several that they planned to bid on.

    “I can make an income off these at my house,” an auctioneer said to a man who was looking over the machines. “I have a teenager and other kids are always at my house.”

    gumball machines

    An array of gumball machines. This is only a little of what we auction-goers saw as we entered the room.

    This same auctioneer had guessed that the machines were from someone’s collection or a store. I’d say they were from a collection or an arcade. These were not new machines; they were scuffed and scratched. Some were in good condition, but most of them looked vintage, except for a few in unusual shapes.

    Most were the ones I remember with the large plastic rectangular or round top, and metal bottom with a slot on the front for a coin and a door that pushed open when the candy balls dropped out. They even carried some familiar names (Dubble Bubble, although I remembered Bazooka). Others bore the names of candies that were not in the machines (M&M’s). The Great American Nut Machine sat on a wooden base and held marbles.

    This wasn’t the first gumball machine I’d seen at auction. A couple years ago, a machine that had been reconfigured as a lamp came up for sale, and I actually bid on it. I don’t remember what possessed me to do that; perhaps I was in a nostalgic haze.

    gumball machines

    This is a little more of what auction-goers saw: floor-size gumball machines.

    Writing about the gumball machines did give me a chance to learn more about them. They were one of the earliest types of coin-operated vending machines, from the late 19th century. Vending machines themselves go back much farther, to Egyptians vendors who sold holy water, according to the Coin Operated Collectors Association.

    In the 1880s, Thomas Adams used the machines to sell his Tutti-Fruitti chewing gum on New York train platforms. The ones that we recognize today became popular in the early 1900s.

    I wasn’t around when the gumball machines sold. Here’s a look at some of them.

    gumball machines

    Gumball machines, one showing its price for a handful of goodies.


    gumball machines

    Gumball machines in unusual shapes: Candy on the back of a duck and inside a case.


    gumball machines

    Other gumball machines in unusual shapes.


    Gacha machine

    A Gacha machine, popularized first in Japan, which dispenses a toy figure.


    gumball machines

    Miniature gumball machines.


    gumball machine

    Gumball machine with a different type of candy, and a puzzle.


    parrot machine

    A talking parrot machine that dispenses prizes.


    gumball machines

    A nut machine with marbles, along with a Dubble Bubble machine.


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