11 3/4". I don't know much about this machine. It's not listed in Silent Salesmen Too and this was only the second example to surface among known collectors. I've never seen the first example to be found, but I've talked to its owner and know that he doesn't know any more about the origin of his machine than I know about the origin of mine. For lack of a better name I called this a Renn's, although I didn't know whether they made the machine.
In 2002 or 2003 a third example appeared on ebay, and that one had a partial decal with the name of a company called "Autovend" somewhere on it. As with Renn's, I don't know if Autovend made the gum or the machine.
There are some differences between the 2 examples. Firstly, the Autovend had no apparent way to hold the lid and globe in place, whereas the Renn's has external globe rods that hold the lid to the base with the globe sandwiched in between. The guy who bought the Autovend told me later that the globe had been puttied to the base and lid so that it was permanently attached---at least until this guy unputtied the connections. Secondly, the turn handle on the Autovend is 4-pronged instead of completely round. And lastly, the Autovend has an awesome old patina instead of having been buffed to within an inch of its life (and then clear-coated!) by a dealer who didn't know that the first rule of good stewardship is DO NO HARM.
The example above is made of brass and looks to have been inspired by Millard. The penny drops through a turn handle in the lid, falls through the machine into the mechanism below the product compartment, and then the customer turns the handle on the lid to get the goods. It's bigger than a Millard, though, and collectors who've seen it agree that it's not a Millard. Bill Enes saw the first (and at the time, only) example to surface, and he thought it wasn't a Millard.
So what is it? I don't know. For now it's a mystery machine.
The example above is 100% original except for maybe the globe rods. I never doubted them until I saw the Autovend without rods, and then looked closely at the globe rod set-up for the Renn's. The cuts through the metal are crude, the fit of the rod head to the top of the lid is not flush, and the rods are external to the globe. This design and its execution are unusual enough to make me question whether the external rods were part of the original design or were added by a vendor. Although I'd consider the design and execution to be crude as part of an original design, if they were added by a vendor I'd say he did a good job.
Since I bought the machine I stripped the clear-coat off and am now watching it darken slowly with age. By the time I die it may be almost as nice as it was before the buffing wheel stripped 70 years of patina from it.
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