Stewart & McGuire

Stewart & McGuire, New York City, NY, c. 1935, 18 3/4". This is one of the most art deco machines I know of. Silent Salesmen Too says that this model was inspired by the Empire State Building, which housed the Stewart & McGuire offices. I'd have expected a pointy lid were that the case, but I can't dispute the overall art deco influence.

I've seen several finishes on this: Black and chrome, red and chrome, a faux marble-grained finish with copper-colored trim, and a faux wood-grained finish with copper-colored trim. I've also seen an original Stewart & McGuire brochure that showed other finishes---I think 9 in all---including a yellow and chrome finish I've never seen or heard of live.

Once upon a time I simultaneously owned the black and chrome machine above and a gorgeous wood-grained machine, and I decided I didn't need to keep both. Believe it or not, I sold the wood-grained machine and kept the black and chrome machine. The black and chrome has a more traditional art deco look, but still, I don't think that was the smartest move of my collecting career.

This and the Northwestern DeLuxe are the 2 machines that astound me at how far manufacturers and vendors would go to separate folks from their loose change. As simple and straightforward as most Columbus, Simpson, and Northwestern machines were, the Stewart & McGuire is the opposite. Two coin slots are located on the front "ledge" in front of the "globe:" The right slot takes a penny and gives one turn, the left slot takes a nickel and gives 5 turns. The mechanism weighs the coin inserted and decides whether to send it to the middle, which unlocks the mechanism for the prescribed number of turns, or to the coin return located in the lower left corner of the front. You can see the front of the mechanism inside the machine here.

Stewart & McGuires are notoriously fickle with new pennies because they weigh less than the old wheat pennies. That fickleness merely means the machine is doing its job---they were precision-designed to detect and reject slugs, and when it sees something it thinks isn't right then it's supposed to kick it out. The mechanisms on most Stewart & McGuires are completely frozen, but that goes way beyond 'fickle,' that's downright uncooperative. Be sure to test one before you buy it.

The examples above are 100% original and work well, but they are just a little fickle sometimes.



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