U.G. Grandbois, Kalamazoo, MI, c. 1927, 11". This is a cute model with a small footprint, so you can fits lots and lots of them on a single shelf. That's an attractive feature for collectors with more machines than space. It has the same 'reverse-threaded nut' locking system that Bluebird, Vendex, and Neko used, so I doubt they were intended for high-security locations.
Bill describes Grandbois variations fairly extensively in Silent Salesmen Too, so I'll not repeat that information here. I'll add only 3 things:
The examples above are 100% original. The decal on the short machine is on the globe's outside surface; the vendor label on the tall machine is inside the globe. I owned the short machine first and then stumbled across the tall machine at a Chicagoland show, and was really smitten with it so I bought it even though I thought it was a bit overpriced. The short one had hinted shortly before that show that it was getting lonely, so I felt duty-bound to buy the tall one to keep the short one company. On paper the short one is better---great original paint, great decal---but I like the tall one just as much, if not more. Luckily I have room for both. The bottom of both machines is embossed "U G GRANDBOIS CO KALAMAZOO MICH." I went to college in Kalamazoo, so I feel a geographical connection although I don't remember ever passing by the Grandbois factory.
- The examples above have cast iron bases and aluminum lids. Later examples have aluminum bases with aluminum lids. Almost all of the cast iron examples I've seen with original paint were black, but I've seen all-aluminum versions with other original paint colors, including red and hammertone green, so Grandbois may have gone wild in later years after being conservative earlier in life.
- Grandbois came with 2 sizes of globe: Tall and short. An example of each is pictured above. Some collectors think that short globes are tall globes cut down to size, but I think otherwise. Too many short globes exist for that to be true. The short globes are more common and are all the same height, and what are the chances for such uniformity if they were shortened by different vendors over the years? The tall globes sometimes have 2 exterior lugs near the top, which fit into notches on the lid and prevent the globe from rotating. You can see these on the tall machine above. These lugs are missing from short globes, which is one reason---perhaps the reason---that some collectors think short globes are merely amputated tall globes. However, the lids on short-globed machines don't have the notches that the lugs would fit into if they were there, which obliterates the hypothesis that the short globes used to be tall globes with lugs. Many tall globes also don't have lugs, which doubly obliterates that hypothesis!
- Tall or short, I've seen only a 2 or 3 globes with decals. I had a decalless (if that's a word) Grandbois for years before I was able to snag the machine with the short globe and decal pictured above. Tell a collector you bought a Grandbois, and one of the first questions is "Does it have a decal?" If you have a chance to buy a Grandbois with a decal and it's reasonably priced, buy first and ask questions later. The tall-globed Grandbois on the left has a vendor identification label, which is not really a decal but is still pretty cool.
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