Bluebird Penny Drop

Bluebird Products Co., Kansas City, MO, c. 1926, 20 1/2". This is listed as Peerless Products Co. in Silent Salesmen Too, but most collectors know it as a Bluebird Penny Drop. In fact, ask 10 collectors if they have a Peerless Products, and they'll look at you and say, "Huh?"

This is really just a Bluebird Universal Products atop a wood platform---but of course it's so much more than that. The machine is attached to the top of the box, which replaces the baseplate normally found on the Univeral Products. When you insert a penny and push back on the lever, the penny falls into the machine as it normally does, but then keeps falling into the playfield in front. What happens next depends on the playfield.

To be fair, I've not sat around for hours trying really hard to defeat the system, but the old operators weren't stupid, and if the chance of getting your penny back were high, then they'd have designed another machine that lowered those chances. I'd think this system would be more generous than, say, the system on the Gum-a-Mib, but I can't prove it by my history with these.

I bought both of these from experienced, knowledgable collectors. They'd never before seen the version on the left, and neither had I. It's not in Silent Salesmen Too. We're almost certain that this is the earliest version of the Bluebird Penny Drop, and it's probably a rare version unless there's a cache somewhere that none of us have seen. The version on the right is the more common version, and is probably the more desirable version for most collectors. You can see the graphics closer up here in one of the worst pictures on this site. It's a politically incorrect machine, but back in its day was probably a source of great merriment for its customers.

The coin door on these machines comprises most of the right side of the box, as viewed from the front. The coin door on both of these examples is wood. I know that some examples of the version on the right had a sheet-metal coin door. I don't know if the same is true of the earlier version on the left. Soooo, if you find a Bluebird Penny Drop with a wood coin door, it's not necessarily a replacement. It might be, but it might be original.

Both of the examples above are 100% original and in great condition. I kept my eyes open for one of these for quite awhile before I bought these, but this is a tough model to find in good original condition. Most times, I didn't trust the case---they'd been repaired, or completely redone, and just didn't look right. Some looked like very nice reproductions, but I wasn't looking for a reproduction. Some may have been original, but something just didn't seem right so I passed on them. Others had ratty or replaced graphics, and since that's a major feature of the later version, I passed on them, too. A couple others were just right---all original, great graphics, just all-around sterling condition---but their owners thought the machine was made of gold instead of aluminum, and priced the piece accordingly. When I had the chance to buy these, I'd intended to look at both and choose one---probably the later version---but when I set them side-by-side to look, I was struck by how good they looked together, so thought "what the hell" and bought both.

By the way, the decal shown on the globes of these machines is considered correct for this model. I'd bet that's true, but I don't know that others would be incorrect.



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