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Advance Unit C

Advance Machine Co., Chicago, IL, c. 1925, 30 1/2". This is one of several wall-mounted single-column "unit" vendors made by Advance from the late 1910's/early 1920's through the 1940's or 1950's. They're all made of sheet metal. The models differ by height, depth, mechanism, presence of small windows in front, and the location of product exit routes. Another example of one of these is the Unit A, which is similar but has an earlier mechanism and is not as deep. I can't keep these unit models straight, but they're described in Silent Salesman Too (page 13) if you want to investigate.

This Unit C differs from the one in Silent Salesmen Too in that the machine pictured in the book has a slanted base, whereas the machine pictured above has a flat base and can sit upright on a flat surface, as it's doing in the picture. I think the flat bottom is why this one is 3 inches shorter than the slanted-bottom examples shown in Silent Salesman Too. This model has the same mechanism as other Advance machines, such as the Model D and the Advance Stamp Machine.

This and the other "unit" models were used to vend a variety of products, including gum, candy, perfume, hand soap, handkerchiefs, and prophylactics. I've passed on dozens of these over the years, but I was smitten with this one when I first saw it in the parking lot at the November 2009 Chicagoland show. I don't know why---it's got black wrinkle paint, which I'm usually not that fond of, and the graphics aren't all that striking---but something kept drawing me back to it. I think it's an early example of the model, but I can't support that opinion with any objective evidence. I can't put my finger on why, but everything about this one just works. I especially love the "blown tested" statement of quality on the front, pictured here more closely. As a friend said after I'd bought this, does that mean they sold used condoms? And how did one manage to get a job as a testee?

The machine pictured above is 100% original and in excellent condition. It has pristine instructions on the backside---meaning the inside---of the front, and came filled with about 30 boxes of product. All in all, it's the complete machine.

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