Columbus Model 45G

Columbus Vending Company, Columbus, OH, c. 1948, 14 1/2. This machine has a good story attached to it, and here it is:

One day I talked to a collector-friend and he told me he'd bought a Columbus 45A but that it was different from the one in Silent Salesmen Too, and he was a little worried it wasn't right. He said that instead of vending candy and peanuts as described in The Book, it dispensed gum, and the gate was short instead of long as pictured in Silent Salesmen Too. He was sure the paint was original, though, which in my opinion is 95% of the battle when it comes to judging a machine's righteousness. I told him that a lot of machines had variations---I was thinking mainly of the gate when I said that---and to relax and enjoy it. If someone did switch the gate sometime in history, it was probably a route guy 50 or 60 years ago, in which case this was still 99.8% correct in my opinion.

A while later I was fortunate enough to buy his collection. When I saw this machine I asked if it was the one we'd discussed, and he said yes. I commented that now that I was seeing it live, there was no question this was all original and "right." I put it on the shelf and posted it to this website calling it a Model 45A with some unique variations. Here's what I wrote about it then:

About a year after posting that text I talked to another collector and he mentioned that he'd just bought a postwar Columbus model he'd never seen before, and that after doing some research he thought it was a Model 45G. I said I'd never heard of it, and he said it's not in Silent Salesmen Too, but that Skip Conner's 1978 article The Columbus Story described the 45G and that the description matched this guy's machine. Skip's description says that the 46G is "a postwar model and in appearance was the same as the Models 14, 16, 17, and 18. It vended a smaller gumball than the standard 5/8 size. It also had a profit sharing mechanism." Well, this guy's telling me this over the phone and I start thinking, Sha-ZAM, I've got one of those! So while I'm still on the phone I pull this off the shelf and start describing it to him, and he keeps saying "yeah, that's it" and "that's right" and "that's what mine is like" and other soft mewlings of encouragement. This guy's a very experienced collector and he knows of his, another collector's, and now mine. That's 3, which is 2 more than I knew of before I talked to him. I told you he was experienced!

Once I unlocked myself from the paradigm that this was a 45A with variations, it was pretty obvious that this isn't a 45A. It's as different from a 45A as a Model 14 is from a Model A---which many early collectors have trouble telling apart, but which become obvious at 40 paces as one gains more experience in such vital societal skills as distinguishing different models of antique vending machines. I know what you're thinking: Some people spend time nuturing their marriages, advancing their careers, and guiding their children's development, and some learn to tell Columbus models apart. I say, to each his own.

But back to the story. This appears to be a rare bird. I doubt most collectors---even most experienced collectors---know this model exists. The other 2 who own one agree with me; neither knows of another beyond the ones we own collectively (although I'm sure at least a couple more exist---we don't know everyone!). Next time you pass a "45A" you may want to slow down and take a good look, especially if it has a short gate. If you don't then you might just be passing up a great opportunity.



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