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"Tall Case" Pulver
(c. 1910)

Pulver Chocolate & Chicle Mfg. Co., Rochester, NY, c. 1910, 24". This is one version of a tall case Pulver, and is the one that collectors mean when they say "tall case Pulver." The other tall case version is the tin litho, which collectors call a "tin litho" Pulver. Why do collectors typically call this a tall case Pulver when the tin litho is just as tall? Beats me. The tin litho is earlier so you'd think it would've had first claim to the title. Maybe it did, and instead chose "tin litho" on the advice of its publicist, manager, and perhaps legal council, leaving "tall case" to the next generation. Anyway, after tall case Pulvers came short case Pulvers, so size does matter with Pulvers---at least for purposes of communication. To confuse the issue further, Pulver later made cases shorter than short case Pulvers, but explaining this any further would require me to understand it myself. Just remember tin litho, tall case, and short case, and you'll be adequately conversational in Pulverese.

Silent Salesmen Too (page 159) has some good pictures of this model and some variations, so you should check that out to learn more. The versions differed either mainly or exclusively in their porcelain signage, and this version appears to be among the scarcest of the versions pictured on that page.

The case is made of (I think) steel and has white-on-red porcelain advertising panels attached to it. The mechanism inside this machine is the same as that inside the earlier tin litho Pulver and is similar to that found in the later, more familiar short case Pulvers. The 2 major differences between the mechanisms in tall case Pulvers and short case Pulvers is that the tall case mechanism is taller, and the characters differ. Tall case Pulvers came with the Yellow Kid, Buster Brown, Foxy Grandpa (a.k.a the Professor), and Uncle Sam. I'm not as familiar as I'd like to be on the relative rarity of these characters, but I know that Buster Brown and Uncle Sam are both quite scarce. Also scarce is a version of the Professor that bows a few times as it goes through its side-to-side motion---this is called a "nodding Professor" or just "nodder," which I guess has more panache than "bower."

Prices of tall case Pulvers shot up during the early 2000's. Price is quite sensitive to the condition of the case and the character, but the range of conditions on this model is not as great as that on tin litho Pulvers.

The example pictured above is 100% original and is the nicest I've ever seen. There's no real story behind it. It was an ebay purchase, and I was feeling flush at the time. I'd been wanting one for 5 or 6 years and had not had a chance to buy a nice original example at a fair price. Actually, that's not quite true; around 1997 I had a chance to buy a nice-looking tall case porcelain Pulver for $1600 at the Chicago show, but I passed because I wasn't sure it was all original. In retrospect it probably was, and I should have bought it then. I didn't, though, and I looked for a long time afterward without success. I guess I finally lost patience; reserve on the machine above was hit early so I waited till the auction's end and then threw stupid money at it, and I mean really stupid money! I won the auction and it wasn't cheap, but it could have been worse. The front glass on this is in 2 pieces, with a horizontal split just above the "WARNING" decal. I think both panes are original, but I don't know why it's split like that.

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