Northwestern Triselector

Northwestern Corporation, Morris, IL, c. 1936, 18 1/2". This is a kissing cousin of the Northwestern DeLuxe, but as complicated as the DeLuxe was, this is worse. Even the lid-locking mechanism has a convoluted 3-bar design; it works well, but I can't fathom that Northwestern couldn't have designed it more simply. I've seen only 2 or 3 examples of this machine in 12 years, so (as Mr. Enes said) it was a short-lived machine.

The Triselector is a penny-nickel, 3-compartment vendor with one turn handle. The customer would insert a coin, move the lever to point to the compartment to be vended from, and then turn the crank. A penny bought you one turn, a nickel bought five. As with the DeLuxe, the product came out the left gate while the right gate was a coin return.

Almost all of the Triselectors that now exist are red, with only a few known examples of ivory or black. Three different globes were available: Short glass, tall glass, and tall plastic.

Without the slightest exaggeration I can say that this is as heavy as most L-vendors and even heavier than some. It's designed to sit on a countertop or (I presume) a specialized stand, but the 2 holes on the bottom are widely spaced and don't fit a conventional stand. I'd also imagine that a conventional head bracket wouldn't tolerate the torque this machine could impose if it got pushed or tilted while attached. Given the size and weight of this machine it can be hard to find the right spot for it, but in the right spot it's a substantial machine with great presence.

The example above is 100% original except for the decals. A friend of mine bought this in the early 1990s at an auction in the southeast. Nobody else knew what it was and nobody else wanted it. Actually, that's not quite true: There was an elderly fisherman who thought it would make an excellent boat anchor, but he dropped out of the bidding early. My friend bought it for $100 or so and had it ever since then until he sold it to me in 2003 for a dandy profit. Given the complicated mechanism, I'd suspect that many of these don't work but I haven't seen enough to know that for sure.

Many thanks to Dan Davids (a.k.a. "Mr. Northwestern") for his critical review and content suggestions.



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