Mystery 29

Maker unknown, c. 1920's or 1930's (estimated), 24 1/4". This is really a neat machine that took me a while to appreciate. I bought it on the spur of a moment when I tuned into a live Ebay auction and this was the first machine to appear after I'd logged in. I was doing some work at my desk and had planned to just watch the action, but I'd registered for the auction earlier just in case and was in position to act if I saw something that needed acting on.

This needed acting on. Bidding lagged way below its value, so I decided to test the response time of a bid. I'd never bid on a live Ebay auction and was curious, and I knew I wouldn't get hurt at the price I was bidding. I clicked the "bid" button, and a second or two later a screen appeared telling me I was high bidder. Four or five seconds later I was outbid by a floor bidder, so I bid again. I was again high bidder after a second or two. Response time turned out to be pretty good. After a long pause that I took to be indecision on the part of my competitor, I was outbid again. After some indecision on my part---I'd placed some absentee bids for the auction but hadn't seriously considered this one---I bid once more after deciding it would be my last bid. It was enough. Bidding closed and I'd bought it at a bargain price. I thought at the time that it had significant resale potential, but when I got it liked it far more than I thought I would, so it's in my collection and probably will be for some time.

Silent Salesmen Too says that this probably originated with an innovative vendor and that most seem to have come from Northern California. It's a vendor, but it's really a trade stimulator. The customer guessed the color of the next ball to be vended by turning a dial on the right to indicate the predicted color. There's more to the instructions, which are explained on a large label that takes up the entire front surface of the globe. You can read the label here if you want to learn more.

What impressed me about this machine was the quality of the construction. It's very well designed and built, with a glass front on the case and a dial that turns very smoothly. The body is a standard Yu-Chu gumball machine, but with a fishbowl globe and mounted on a wood box that serves as its base. In my opinion the picture in Silent Salesmen Too doesn't do this justice, which is one reason I'd never thought twice about buying one. I've been told by knowledgable collectors that this model isn't rare, but I've not seen or heard of more than 3 or 4 since I started collecting. Maybe I hadn't paid close attention since the model didn't interest me for so long, but until I start seeing more of them I'm going to perceive this to be a model that's pretty tough to find.

The example pictured above are 100% original.



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