"Tin Litho" Pulver
Pulver Chocolate & Chicle Mfg. Co., Rochester, NY, c. 1899, 24". The tin litho Pulver is one version of an early tall case Pulver. It comes in 2 types, which differ only in their front panels: Chocolate Cocoa and Gum, and Kola-Pepsin Gum. The other tall case version is just as tall and has porcelain front and side panels, and is the version collectors mean when they refer to a 'tall case Pulver.' Silent Salesmen Too (page 158) has some good pictures of examples of both versions and describes some variations. Check it out if you want to learn more.
The case on this is made of embossed tin finished with beautiful lithographed advertising for Pulver gum. The top, the bottom, and the side rails are made of thick painted steel. I can't think of a more striking machine than one of these in good condition. Even a rough one is pretty, but in mint condition it's so gorgeous that if Phoebe Cates Katie Holmes Jennifer Anniston were standing naked next to a mint example, giving you come hither eyes, you'd look at the tin litho. I wouldn't---I'm a heterosexual guy---but you might if you're, say, a heterosexual woman or a long-time male resident of San Francisco. I might sneak a look at the Pulver, but would try to not get caught.
But enough about sexual preferences and naked starlets. The mechanism inside the tin litho Pulver is the same as that in other tall case Pulvers and is similar to those in the later short case Pulvers. The 2 major differences between tall case and short case mechanisms is that the tall case mechs are taller than the short case mechs (duh!), and the characters differ. Tall case and tin litho Pulvers came with the Yellow Kid, Buster Brown, Foxy Grandpa (a.k.a the Professor), or Uncle Sam. I'm not intimately familiar with the relative rarity of these characters, but I know that Buster Brown and Uncle Sam are both quite scarce, as is a version of the Professor that bows several times as it rotates.
Most tin litho Pulvers are faded, with the graphics visible but not bold and vibrant. Some are rusty. Not surprisingly, price depends on the condition of the case and on the character. Tin litho Pulvers are considered rare and are hard to find in any condition.
The examples pictured above represent the 2 tin litho versions pictured in Silent Salesmen Too. They're both 100% original, although the Kola-Pepsin Gum is not quite complete.
- The machine on the left is a Chocolate Cocoa and Gum; it's in very good-to-excellent condition and has a nodding Professor. It's an early example of a tin litho Pulver, which you can discern several ways including the paper inside the front panel which states that the machine was loaned, not sold. If you look carefully you can see that the front panels are faded compared to the side panels, and the bottom front panel is a bit more faded than the top front panel. I bought this from a very knowledgable and established collector at the Durham, North Carolina COCA convention in July 2010, and several other experienced collectors inspected this machine closely. There's no doubt that this front door is the one that belongs on this case, that the tin litho panels have not been swapped out, or that the paint is original. No doubt at all. So we've hypothesized that the machine was placed in a location where the front---but not the sides---saw the sun, and that the bottom front saw more sun than the top. This could have happened if it were mounted outside facing east under an awning that shaded sun from the top more than from the bottom, or was mounted inside facing east so that sunshine came in through a window in such a way to expose the bottom more. This is all speculative and I'm sure we'll never know the story for this particular machine, but it fits the evidence and I can't think of another explanation that does.
- The machine on the right is a Kola-Pepsin Gum. It was my first tin litho Pulver and is rougher than the Chocolate Cocoa and Gum but is still quite presentable. It's not as early as the Chocolate Cocoa and Gum, as indicated by some features on the inside of the front door including the paper (nothing there about being loaned, not sold), the shape of the hole for the coin entry (it's perfectly round), and the fact that the inner layer of tin is not embossed (meaning it wasn't "repurposed" from an earlier machine). As stated earlier, these two models differed only in their front panels---the mechs, character selection, side panels, side rails, and top and bottom were the same. The Kola-Pepsin machine above is missing the lock and Grandpa's clothes. After I bought it I tried to install a short case Pulver lock and discovered that the locks on tall case Pulvers had narrower barrels than those on the later short cases. What I thought would be a quick and easy fix is still unfinished as I type this on August 11, 2010. As context for the information above about condition, I'd consider the condition of the Kola-Pepsin case to be below average, and the condition of the character to be way below average due to its scarred head and nudity. A naked Jennifer Anniston is way above average; a naked Grandpa isn't.
- The side panel pictured above is from the Chocolate Cocoa and Gum on the left, but both tin litho versions have the same side panel graphics. The panels from the left machine are just in better shape (although the picture of it could be a little better illuminated---sorry 'bout that).
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