Ace Model 43
Operators Vending Machine Supply Co., Los Angeles, CA, c. 1935, 14 1/4". Methinks this is one of the prettiest models ever made. Not Robin Wellings-pretty---now there was a babe!---but pretty nonetheless with elegant contours and an innate sophistication. Like Robin! Ace 43's aren't rare but they're uncommon, and they're so pretty that it's hard to find someone willing to part with one. If you want one you'll eventually get it, but you may have to wait awhile.
Shown above are 3 examples that differ in some way:
I've also seen one Ace 43 with a round globe stamped with the Operators Vending Machine Supply Co. logo, so I know it's legitimate. I'd never heard of one before I saw it, but apparently a few are known and they're correct. It didn't really look right on the machine, but I'd learn to tolerate it if you'd like to sell me one.
- A conventional and completely correct Ace 43 is pictured on the left. It's made of aluminum and has the gorgeous pear-shaped 8-sided globe unique to this model and its sibling Ace 12. As on most Ace 43's, the center rod is attached to the lid and descends through a hollow center tube and through a hole in the baseplate, where it's held in place by a conventional cylinder lock.
I bought this machine on ebay from an antique store in Pasadena, CA, in about 2005. It's 100% original and has an original Atlas Bantam decal and 2 Los Angeles tax stamps from 1947 and 1948. It was filthy when I got it, so I disassembled it, washed it gently with soap and water, and then reassembled it. It's not been buffed, and it has a very nice light gray patina.
- The middle example was altered by the vendor but is still A-okay in my book. It has a Columbus #4 globe, which is not original to the machine but is not uncommon to find on Ace 43's. In fact, I've seen enough Ace 43's with Columbus #4 globes to think that a fair number of vendors used them that way. The Columbus globe fits perfectly and looks right at home on the machine, and was probably used because it was less expensive than a replacement Ace globe. By that I mean that a replacement Ace globe might have been $1.65, while a Columbus #4 globe was only $1.25. Although it's not technically correct, the fact that so many vendors seemed to use them this way lends a lot of legitimacy to the combination. At least to me it does. Some other collectors I've talked to agree, some don't. You'll have to decide for yourself how "right" this combination is.
The locking system on the middle example has also been altered. Unlike most Ace 43's, the center rod on this one is attached to the baseplate and rises through the machine and through the lid, where it's held in place by a conventional cylinder lock. This makes more sense than the original design if you're a vendor, because if you want to refill the machine you just work from the top; you don't have to put the machine on its side or turn it upside down to get to the lock before you can remove the lid. The changes inside look old, which is why I'm convinced they were done by a vendor during service, and not later by some collector trying to shake things up. I bought this on ebay in 2007 and don't know its history beyond what I can discern by inspection.
- The example on the right is like the one on the left, but is copper-flashed. I bought this at the Chicagoland show in the spring of 2010, and inspected it closely before I bought it. I'd never heard of a copper-flashed Ace 43, and aluminum is not the best metal to copper-flash because the finish doesn't adhere as well as it does to cast iron. There's no doubt that the finish is old, but I don't know exactly how old and can't explain why someone would have done it. This was part of Steve Perry's estate, and the provenance of this machine may have died with Steve---if he ever knew it. The decals on this globe are new; everything else is original.
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