c. 1920's or 1930's, 14 1/2". This model probably has an interesting history. I wish I knew what it is. On the surface it's a knock-off of the Columbus Model 14. It's got the same shape, same size, same overall look, and a 1-2-1-2-3 vending wheel, but it has a few differences that make it intriguing. Firstly, it's got "Smith's Chewing Balls" and "Made in Holland" embossed into the cast iron base. Secondly, it has a cast iron chute flap instead of the aluminum chute flap the Columbus models have, and the stencilled emblem on it is shaped a bit differently from that on the Columbus gates. Thirdly, the components of the mechanism, such as the vending wheel and the piece with the pull lever, are also cast iron instead of cast aluminum. Lastly and most prominently, it has a cast iron cup attached to the front of the base. The cup looks like an upsidedown backwards gate complete with a cut out star, but it's not; it's shaped differently, and it was obviously intended to be attached to the base as shown above. There's also a threaded hole on the underside of the lid, but it doesn't penetrate to the exterior of the lid. I can't fathom why it's there, but both of the Smith's I've seen have had it.
I've heard or read that parts don't interchange between the Smith's and Columbus, but I've never tested it myself. I don't know what coin the Smith's takes, but only a coin about the thickness of a dime will fit through the coin slot.
The machine above is 100% original. I bought it directly from a collector in Belguim, and to the best of my knowledge it had never left Europe before its trip to my house. I added the locks, so they may not be exactly right (especially since they're American). I don't know what the 2 holes above the gate are for, although a tag would be my guess. I see no evidence on the paint that a tag was ever attached, but why else would they be there? Drainage? Ventilation? I doubt it. The other Smith's that I've seen live or in pictures, such as the one I owned before the one pictured above, don't have these holes or a tag.
The collector from whom I bought this has a pretty good handle on this model. Between the 2 of us we know of 8 Smith's, and that assumes that the one pictured in the book is not one of the other 7. In my opinion this should be listed as rare in the Silent Salesmen Too price guide, but the 2010 version simply lists a value.
©Small Vintage Vending 2003