Wood Zeno

(Click on image to enlarge it)

Zeno Mfg. Co., Chicago, IL, c. 1910s-20s (est.), 17". Silent Salesmen Too says that these machines were included free with the purchase of 1200 sticks of gum. Don't you wish they still were?

Zeno made several versions of their wood machines. All had a clockwork mechanism that pushed a stick of gum out when a penny was inserted. The primary differences between models were the positions of the coin slot and the existence or absence of writing on the sides, but you can find other, smaller differences such as the beaded trim on the left machine and the absence of "ZENO" from the diagonal trim piece at the bottom front of the example shown above right (which isn't all that easy to see 'cause of the glare---sorry!).

At least one expert believes that all wood Zenos were originally tin-covered. The wood example above right supports that contention; if you look closely you can see small, evenly spaced holes around various edges of the front. These holes are placed exactly where the tin is tacked down in the tin-covered machine above, so I'm convinced that this wood machine was once sheathed in tin. Unfortunately, tin didn't hold up well and very few wood Zenos still have theirs intact.

The 3 machines pictured above are in original condition except for the black paint on the metal pieces above and below the gum exit on the left machine. The left machine is an early version with a gold cardboard-under-glass front sign, a lower coin insert, beaded trim, and plain sides. The 2 on the right are both a later version with a higher coin insert and advertising on both sides. The tin-armored versions are extremely hard to find, whereas the wood versions without tin are not excruciatingly hard to find even in good condition.

Zeno made a wall bracket for these. The 2 machines on the right have the "machine side" of the bracket, but I've seen only one example of the piece that actually mounts to the wall.



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