(Click on image to enlarge it)
Ford Sales Vending Machine Corp., East Aurora, NY (founded by Ford Mason in 1919); Ford Vending Machine Corp., East Aurora, NY; Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc., Lockport, NY and/or Akron, NY, patented 1919, 11 1/2" to 12". Ford machines are eschewed by some collectors because of their abundance and the great similarity between models. I agree with this assessment of later Fords, but I really like the early models. They're small, simple machines, but a nice early example has great character at an affordable price.
You can read about Ford's humble origins here. The Ford design has changed very little over the years. It started with the York, which was invented by Wallace Mason and his son, Ford, and quickly evolved into the Ford. I know of only 4 Yorks that exist today, all of which have 'YORK' embossed on a round globe that's a lot smaller than the embossed Ford globes.
Pictured above are various Fords in chronological order of body and globe styles from the early 1920s through about 1960. What follows is a short description of each:
This machine also has an original Ford-embossed globe with the round top and round front. These are harder then hens' teeth to find. The embossed globe was reproduced sometime between (I believe) 1970 and 1990, and even the reproductions don't appear often these days. I bought this body without a globe from someone who'd bought it for $7 at a low-end swap meet, so it may have originally been a York rather than a Ford. Either way, it's a shame the globe got lost along the way.
2. Model F300. The second picture shows an early all-round globe with a cloverleaf decal on Ford's second body, the F300. The body's serial number is 12497, which Silent Salesmen Too dates to 1924 or 1925. The only difference I can see between the F200 and F300 body styles is that the coin slot on the F300 is still raised but the raised part is now part of a coin slot cover riveted to the top of the body. The serial number is stamped into the coin slot cover instead of the front body tag and remains there through today. The front body tag lists the company as Ford Vending Machine Corp., East Aurora, NY. Like the F200, this model has body side decals and a dish to catch the exiting gumball. Unlike the F200, every example I've seen of this model is painted bright red.
I bought this on ebay from a seller who'd picked it up at an estate sale (for cheap, by the way; he did well on this one). The globe on this is round on top instead of flat, and is exactly like the embossed globe except that it doesn't have the embossed Ford script. I believe this style immediately followed the embossed style. I'd always believed that this style of globe is correct on the Model F200 and that the cloverleaf decal is correct on a Lockport machine, but something's gotta give in that belief since the globe and decal are both original. My perception may have been wrong---it's happened before. This is exactly how the machine came from the estate sale so this is how I've kept it.
3, 4. Model F400. The third and fourth pictures show Ford's third body style, the F400, which is the same as the F300 except that the coin slot cover is now flat and unpainted, and the front body tag lists the company as Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc., Lockport, NY.
The serial number of the third machine is 102738, which Silent Salesmen Too dates to 1935 or 1936. According to Silent Salesmen Too, the change from Ford Vending Machine Corp. to Ford Gum and Machine Co. occurred in 1934. The outstanding feature of this particular example is the 4-lobed cloverleaf decal, which has "Lockport, NY" noted on the bottom edge. The Lockport designation on the cloverleaf decal pictured in Silent Salesmen Too (page 60) is why I've always perceived this decal style to be correct on a Lockport machine, but this style may have been made earlier as well.
The fourth machine has the same Lockport tag but no serial number because the slug rejector replaced the coin slot cover that would have had it. The red-painted slug rejector is very hard to find. I saw several during my early years of collecting, and then went years without seeing another. This is the first that I had a legitimate chance to buy, and by that time I really wanted one.
5. The fifth machine is like the fourth except for the chrome finish on the body and the slug rejector. This also has no serial number, but the front tag lists the company as Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc., of Lockport, NY and Akron, NY. I have trouble dating this machine because Silent Salesmen Too implies that Ford moved from Lockport to Akron in 1950, yet the dish on the front suggests that this machine is earlier than that. Ford may have made the dished version longer than I think they did. The decal on this is a generic decal that mentions 'gum' but not 'Ford.' I doubt that it's rare, but I've not seen another one like it.
6. The sixth machine is a painted version whose front tag lists the company as Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc., of Lockport, NY and Akron, NY. I was told recently by a retired Ford distributor that this style of painted model was made only during WWII, yet a knowledgable Ford collector told me since then that he thinks this dates to the Korean War. The retired distributor was adamant about his dates and claimed that Ford painted them only because chromium was unavailable during the war. However, the serial number of 314969 dates the machine to the early 1950's, which is what I'd thought before talking to the distributor or getting the other collector's opinion. Based on everything I've heard and read, I still think early 1950's is right on this one.
I like the body on this---the painted styles just have more character---but the unique feature on this example is the marquee. The story I got with the marquee was that Ford did not glue their marquees down at first, but instead strapped them to the globes using wires, springs, and a retaining collar at the bottom. You can clearly see the set-up here. I once saw one diagrammed in an old Ford catalog so I know it's legitimate.
The marquee is earlier as well, with the raised amber circle that's absent on later examples. The sign on the marquee says "For Service Call Eugene....," and I've always wondered whether that refers to Eugene, Oregon, or just some guy named Eugene who had a knack for fixing Fords. Either way, "Eugene" doesn't help much in the dating, although it adds a nice touch to any provenance you care to speculate. The first Kiwanis club was formed 4 years before Ford started business, and according to Rich Clark of the Kiwanis Club in Chisholm, Minnesota, the Eugene, Oregon club was founded sometime before 1921---it was the 55th chapter---so probably within a year or so of Ford's founding. So all this really means, unfortunately, is that the marquee doesn't predate Ford, which is good.
This marquee style is quite scarce. The one pictured above is the only example I've seen. I didn't know they existed until I saw this one on ebay, so I simply got lucky.
7. Last, but not least---or is it?---the machine on the far right is a later Ford with a copper finish. The serial number of 399621 dates this machine to 1959 or 1960 according to Silent Salesmen Too. The front tag lists the manufacturer as Ford Gum and Machine Co., Inc., of Akron, NY. I've been told by several people that Ford would give a route owner one of these for every so many machines he bought, and if that's true then this is essentially a premium. I've seen Fords replated in copper, so be careful when buying.
You can see pictures of other Fords below, in somewhat-chronological order. The example with the CHILD WELFARE globe has an unusual spring system just above the vending wheel in front, which I've not seen on another Ford. The last machine in line below has an unusual plate covering most of the vending wheel, which again I've not seen on another Ford. I consider both of these to be rare variations, which are invisible when the machine is displayed with gum in it---as mine are. Bummer, huh? I love the big "CHILD WELFARE" decal, and the admonition to "BE KIND TO OUR BLIND" on the silver machine's decal. The large Kiwanis Club display in the fourth picture is made to frame a machine as shown, although I doubt the machines used in the displays typically had slug rejectors. I know of 2 of examples of this display, this being one of them.
(Click on image to enlarge it)
©Small Vintage Vending 2015