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Hance Rex

Hance Foundry Co., Ohio, c. 1908, 13 1/2". Hance made several "Rex" models that were similar in size, look, and mechanism, but differed in details such as the vending wheel and the way the goods were passed from the machine to customers' hands. Within each model as well as between models, the finish (painted, nickel-plated, or porcelainized), the coin entry (short, plain gooseneck, or embossed gooseneck), and the type of globe (straight cylinder or pear-shaped) could also differ.

This model is simply the "Rex," without an additional descriptor, as opposed to the Rex Gumball or Rex Convertible or Rex P-nut or Standard Rex. It's made of cast iron, and has a painted baseplate, lid, midsection, mechanism cover, and coin door. The body is---or in this case was---nickel-plated. Almost every Rex I've seen has had nickel plating in similar condition, meaning mostly gone. This model has holes around the perimeter of the vending wheel, making it obvious that this is a gumball machine, not a bulk product dispenser.

The Rex has the earliest patent date---1908---although Silent Salesmen Too doesn't list patent dates for all of the Hance models it depicts. Details about who made the early Rex models---and where they were made---are inconsistent:

I don't know how to make sense of these various clues about the home of the Rex.

This is an awesome machine and is popular with collectors. They're not common but they're also not rare. The example pictured above is 100% original except for the coin door lock, and has 100% of its original decal.

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Update December 2015: I bought the machine below on ebay last month, and wanted to include it on this page because of the coin door. Compare it to the one in the pictures above. You'll notice that the coin door below is shaped differently, with a straight-line profile rather than a curved profile in the pictures above, and no lock. I knew when I bought this that the coin door was probably not original, and I was right. But it has the same ancient repaint as the rest of the machine, so it's been part of this machine for a really long time.

I like and admire clever vendor modifications and fixes, and this is one of them. The coin door is made of thick steel, fits the body tightly, and looks right if you don't know what it's supposed to look like. It has a tab on the bottom edge that slips into a slot in the baseplate, and a notch cut out of the top edge that fits around the shaft of the handle. These attachment points keep it tightly in place. This is not nearly as convenient to remove and re-install as the original coin door, and that may have driven the vendor nuts on route. To remove this coin door you need to remove the lid, hold-down ring, and globe. Then you lift the center section (with the mechanism) up a little to free the top edge of the coin door, after which you can pull it to the side and lift it up to free the bottom tab from its slot.

I don't know why the vendor made this, but I speculate that he lost or inadvertently destroyed the original, and did that after he could buy a replacement from Hance. I don't know that's the story, but I can't imagine why someone would make a replacement that was so inconvenient to remove and re-install if he could have bought an original replacement.

Along with vendor modifications and fixes, I like old vendor repaints. I also like nice factory-original machines with the original paint, but quality vendor touches and old repaints can give a machine more personality. I took a chance when I bought this, but I really like it.

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