Standard Daisy Match

Standard Gum Machine Works, c. 1907, 17". This is an early and rare single-column match vendor with a cast iron front that locks to a sheet-metal case. The guts are attached to the front plate as shown here. I know very little factually about this model beyond those obvious nuggets, but keep reading for peripheral information and speculation. Click here for a tighter shot of the detail on the front.

I got this from Joy, a New Hampshire antiques dealer who contacted me through this website. The email's subject line said "MATCH MACHINE: DAISY MATCH CO," and the email asked me if I was interested in pics of the machine, saying that she couldn't find information about Daisy Match anywhere, and that the machine was quite unique. I replied that I'd never heard of Daisy Match, and yes please (please please please!) send pictures. When I first saw the pictures I thought it might be a Columbus vendor---more about that below---but knew that whatever it was, it was rare, early, and very cool. After a few more back-and-forth emails and a phone conversation, we had a deal. It arrived 3 days later.

After that transpired I discovered that this model is in Silent Salesmen Too, but under Standard Daisy Match (page 246), not Daisy Match. It doesn't say much there, but mentions that it came in 2 variations: "with a Wink and a Smile atop a wooden penny drop (page 146) and by itself as pictured above." When I first read this, I (shockingly) overlooked the reference to page 146, and focused on it being a product of Standard Gum Machine Works, not Columbus. Mystery solved, I thought, it's in the book so it's a known model, albeit not well-known since it's so rare.

For brevity, for the rest of this page I'm going to abbreviate Standard Gum Machine Works as SGMW. Keep reading and you'll understand why.

I mentioned Columbus earlier; let's get back to that now. As I started to write this page I consulted Silent Salesmen Too again and finally saw the reference to page 146. I checked it out, and....wow! It's in the color section, and pages 145 and 146 show 4 pictures of various gum vendors attributed to SGMW, and also a picture of a Daisy Match machine. The gum vendors are all Blinkey-type machines. The 3 SGMW Blinkey-type gum vendors on page 146 occupy the top row, while the bottom row shows 3 gum vendors attributed to Columbus: 2 Blinkey-type machines and 1 non-Blinkey-type machine. The SGMW machines and the Columbus machines are all 17" tall and look identical. Seeing the SGMW and the Columbus machines together, I speculated that one of 2 things happened: 1) One of the companies copied the other company's design, or 2) Columbus made the machines attributed to SGMW. The similarities are way too extensive for it to be otherwise.

I don't know how it bears on this issue, but it's interesting to note that Silent Salesmen Too attributes a patent date of 1907 to all 4 of the SGMW machines, and patent dates of 1909 or 1910 to the Columbus machines. Does that indicate different models, or a patentable improvement in the Columbus version, or just an unexplained gap in the historical record that Mr. Enes didn't have the time or inclination to track down? I don't know; I just know they look identical from the outside.

Here's a little more information about Standard Gum Machine Works, discovered from Silent Salesmen Too: They're recognized as the manufacturer of the Pepsin Gum (c. 1905) and the Freeport Gum Vendor (c. 1910) shown on Silent Salesmen Too page 178. An earlier version (c. 1899) of the Freeport Gum Vendor is shown on page 143 and is attributed to the Freeport Novelty Co. If this is all correct it would suggest---but not indicate---that Freeport Novelty Co. was acquired by SGMW sometime between 1899 and 1910. That's interesting, but has little bearing on the match machine above except that the Freeport has no resemblance to any other machine made by Columbus, and has never been associated by collectors with Columbus. All of this information---and I apologize here for getting so bogged down in the details---is consistent with SGMW being a jobber, and contracting other manufacturers to make vending machines for them. By that hypothesis, their Blinkey-type gum vendors and the Daisy Match went to Columbus to make, and the Freeport Gum went to someone else, perhaps even the facilities of the Freeport Novelty Company which may have still existed under the auspices of SGMW. This is all highly speculative, but it got me thinking it's possible that the SGMW Blinkey-type gum machines and the Daisy Match were made under contract by Columbus for SGMW.

To get more information I contacted a Columbus historian, who steered me to Chad Boekelheide, an advanced collector who's managed to acquire a 3-lifetime supply of these models---he has 6(!) of them. Here's Chad's verbatim response:

Chad was nice enough to send a high-resolution picture of the backs of all 6 similar vendors, which you can see here. I see many similarities between the mechanisms, and few if any substantial differences, but Chad's a smart guy and he's given this a lot of thought, and he has the goods to inspect in person and I don't, so I'll go with his take on the subject.

The example above is 100% original. A colleague of Joy's bought it at an estate sale on Nantucket. The guy who's estate it was collected antique cast irons things of all kinds, and this was the only vending machine he had. The person who bought it at the estate sale didn't know anything about vending machines, but was an experienced dealer who knew this was something special.



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