Antique Gumball Machine: History, Manufacturers, and Value (2024)

A gumball machine is a machine that dispenses chewing gums that are sugar-coated with various colors around them. They are designed with beautiful paintings such that they can easily attract the attention of the little ones.

Although there are advanced gumball machines today, the olden days did not also pass without experiencing gumball dispensation. Hence, those machines are regarded as antiques. However, they are still admired by those who like to fantasize about the past.

Moreover, if you have been dreaming of an antique gumball machine but are skeptical that you may not get an original engine, this article is all you need. It is a complete guide with history, identification, manufacturers, value, and other necessary information about antique gumball machines.

Table of Contents

History of Antique Gumball Machines

Before the end of the 19th century, machines that could vend gum in the shape of a block were invented. However, the actual gumball machine was not developed until the early 2oth century. It was assumed that Thomas Adam Gum Co. was the first to make the machine in the United States of America.

The machines were placed on subways to allow many people to access them. They have animations that serve as attractors and make the machines appealing. Inside these machines were gums with the traditional tutti-fruit flavor.

Unfortunately, between 1920 and 1933, Hawkeye gumball machines were banned by the United States authority. It was alleged that the devices resemble gambling machines. Then, Hawkeye would give every tenth customer a free gumball.

The gumball machines regarded as antiques today were those manufactured in the 1920s and 1930s. They were made with cast iron and were covered with red porcelain fire engines. Under them are claw ft on which the machines could rest.

Later, there was advancement, and manufacturers started building gumball machines with aluminum and plastic against the traditional iron or steel. The claw feet were then removed. By the half of the 2oth century, gumball machines were available in stores and supermarkets.

Popular Manufacturers of Gumball Machines

Gumball was in high demand at its inception in the 20th century, and many manufacturers rose to action. Gumball machines were produced in a multitude to meet up with the demand. However, of all these manufacturers, the following are more popular and are known for their quality.

Norris Manufacturing Company

In 1923, the Norris Manufacturing Company discovered what was later considered “Master” among gumball machines in the 1930s. The machines were designed to accept bills such as pennies and nickels.

The gumball machines produced by the company developed with time in terms of the materials used in manufacturing their lid, cabinet, and base. Different models of antique gumball machines manufactured by this company are available today.

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Ford Gum and Machine

Ford Gum and Machine is a New York-based company founded in 1913 by Ford Mason. The company then discovered its gumball machine in 1934. The company is notable for producing gums for both retail and wholesale.

The company, in its wisdom, intensified efforts to eliminate the problems associated with gumball machines. Chief of these was taking coins from customers without dispensing gums. The company focused more on quality than making money.

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Hawkeye Novelty Company

Hawkeye novelty company has been in the business for a long. They are known for using great ideas to create dispensers. They do not only manufacture gumball machines but, of course, so many other machines, such as peanut dispensers, vending machines, cashless systems, etc.

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Lucky King

Lucky king is another company that has since succeeded in making gumball machines. The machines can be used for commercial and household purposes as they vary in size and capability. These machines can dispense both gumballs and candies.

The lucky king gumball machines are constructed to stand the test of time. Little wonder these machines have become antiques and are still admired and wanted.

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Examples of Antique Gumball Machine

Experts of antiques have generally agreed that machines innovated in the early 2oth century are of high quality and highly demanded. Fortunately, most of the antique gumball machines were built during this time. As a result, one would quickly come across an excellent antique gumball machine. However, the machines listed below can be regarded as the best.

Pulvers One Cent

Pulver’s gumball machines can be found with wood and cast metal bodies. A significant initiation by this company was the placement of a playful element in the machine. This element served the customers with gum when they put money in the machine.

The use of the playful element appeared to be perfect. It would pick up the gums and put them into an appropriate channel for the customers to pick them up. The element imitated an animated character in a famous American comic story. The playful doll was identified as the yellow kid in the story. Today, gumball machines by Pulver One Cent have become highly valuable.

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Carousel Gumball Machines

Carousel Gumball Machine is an innovation of the Ford Gum Company. It happened to be very popular among gumball machines. The 1934 invented machine was later considered the most widely known gumball machine in America.

A lot of brands tried to tap from its popularity. They would like to advertise their products using the machine. Some companies include the machine as part of their logo design. The famous Coca-Cola company incorporated and embossed its logo into the machine’s glass.

Carousel Gumball Machines by Ford are still being produced today. However, despite the fact that the company continues to manufacture the machines, the antique model of the machines is still much available.

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Blinking Eye

As the name implies, this old gumball machine blinks the eye. The face on the machine resembles that of a funny character, although, as a whole, it appears horrible. When a deposit is made into the machine, the eyes blink to indicate the receipt of the money and then dispense the gumballs.

Considering its appearance, it is one of the strange gumball machines made in 1930. The machine is now rare. Buying one may attract a huge bill. However, considering its characteristics, the machine is a good antique.

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Northwestern Model 33

This antique gumball machine was innovated in 1923 by Northwestern Corporation. It got the name “Model 33” from the year it was made available in the market. Advanced machines similar in structure are still being built by the company. Examples are models 60 and 80 built-in in 1960 and 1980, respectively.

The machine looks much like the Carousel Gumball Machine. The significant difference between them is the shape of the glass. In the Carousel Model, the mirror is spherical, while in Northwestern Model 33, it has a cylinder shape.

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Columbus Model A, C.1930S

The Columbus Model A. C. 1930s is another very popular gumball machine. These gumball machines can easily be found in the market today. Therefore, a novice collector will have a good start picking up this old item. It was manufactured by an Ohio-based company, The Columbus Vending Company.

The machine dispenses gumballs to the customers when a coin is handed over. The gumball machine was made of cast iron. Its dimensions measure a height of 15″ and. a Diameter of 9″.

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How to Identify Antique Gumball Machine

Antique gumball machines are still prevalent and widely traded by antique dealers. The high demand for it is a good juxtaposition for its availability. However, the downside is that some unscrupulous manufacturers try to make and sell fake antique gumball machines. They will distress these machines so much that they look like antiques.

Moreover, there are still ways to go about it and buy an authentic antique gumball machine. These easy tips for identifying an original gumball machine are the guide you need when you go to the market.

Examination of the Wood

The first thing you should do is examine the wood. The wood in the original and fake gumball machines is from the oak tree. However, while the wood in the authentic machines is from the white oak tree, the wood in the fake machines is likely to be from the red oak tree.

More so, look closely into the cracks and joints of the wood. Since they have existed for a long, they must have accumulated dust. You may never find this in fake products. Even if you find it, you will discover it is dust maliciously put into the machine to make it look like an antique. In addition, the edges of the fake machines will be very sharp since they have not been used for long.

Observation of the Metal Casting

Letters and inscriptions describe the antique gumball machines in terms of name or other details the company wants to communicate. However, holes are usually made on fake products instead of letters. The knowledge behind this is not far-fetched. It is to make the machine more distressed and look like an antique.

Another thing is that fake products are not well manufactured like authentic ones. Their decorations are crude and unfinished. Also, their metal casting is likely to shrink because they are made from fake materials. Lastly, it would be best to observe the bolts and screws. Those on antique gumball machines should be rusty, while those on fake items will be new and shiny.

Interior Examination

There is a lot to check in the inner part of the machines. What you find out in it tells a lot about whether the machine is antique or not. To start, if there is a wooden part inside the machine, check that they are not painted. Manufacturers of antique gumball machines did not paint this part. You will only find painting in this part of the machine is fake.

Furthermore, poke your nose into the inner part of the machine and sniff it. An original machine must have lost its fresh smell. On the other hand, the inner part of the fake machine will sometimes smell like chemicals or glossy.

Average Value of Antique Gumball Machines

Antique gumball machines differ in size and purpose. Some are considered household tools, while some are for industrial purposes. Therefore the price of the machines could vary from one machine to the other. Antique gumball machines are usually valued between $1500 and $8000. Moreover, the cost can fall below or go above, considering the factors discussed below.

Factors That Affect the Value of Antique Gumball Machine

Before you sell or buy an antique gumball machine, you must know its worth. This will allow you to sell the items at the best price possible. It will also help buyers not to pay more than they should for these items. Moreover, the following factors that tell you how worthy an antique gumball is.

Condition of the Machine

The condition of the gumball machine matters a lot when evaluating it. When some parts of the machine are missing or damaged and require further effort or money by the buyer to repair, the value will be low. On the other hand, a machine with complete components will sell for a reasonable price.

More so, these machines might have been abandoned for a long time, and their operating system may no longer work. Thus, a buyer may buy it to own an antique and want to pay a low price. However, when these machines can still operate perfectly, the buyer will be willing to pay a high price.

Summarily, what matters about antique gumball machines are the condition of the body parts and the operating condition.

Availability of the Machine in the Market

When an antique item can be easily found in the market, its value will likely reduce and vice versa. In the case of antique gumball machines, they are much available in the market but not in excess. Therefore, one may naturally assume that any antique gumball machine should be sold for a moderate price.

However, some models are not widely available and, as a result, attract more value than others. Meanwhile, some models of these machines are easy to find, which tells the amount they have sold.

The Constructing Materials

The company’s material when manufacturing the machine also matters in evaluating it. However, all companies use the same materials to construct devices, such as wood, cast metal, glass, etc. The quality matters as well.

In simple terms, a machine manufactured with a low-quality material will have a reduced value. In contrast, a machine built with high-quality materials will increase the market’s monetary value.

Prove of Originality

Many parody antiques are circulating. Many manufacturers want to take advantage of the potential buyers’ eagerness to sell fake items. In such an instance, having actual proof that the item you wish to sell is original will incredibly increase the value of the item you are about to sell.

Most times, these proofs are documents issued by the manufacturers to the first buyer of the antique gumball machine. This can be a receipt or a contract to pass the machine to the first buyer.

How to Restore an Antique Gumball Machine

After so many years of redundancy of these machines, there may be a lot to do before they can be used for whatever purpose. The accumulated dirt, component damages, faded painting, and design on the antique will require a lot of effort to restore and put in good condition again.

Detect Which Part Is Malfunctioning

You will first have to examine closely and detect which part of the gumball machine is not in excellent working condition. Ideally, a gumball machine consists of four major components: the globe that usually holds the gumballs, the dispensing Wheel that serves the customers with the gumball, the money receiver that accepts money and signals at the wheel dispenser, and the base where the money is stored.

Apart from these major components, other sub-components should also be examined vividly. Although they may contribute little to the functioning of the much, little is much at times.

Disassemble the Machine

To easily repair any damaged component in the machine, either major or minor, you have to disassemble the machine. The machine must have been conjoined initially with screws and bolts. Therefore, you will need screwdrivers, spanners, and in some instances, pliers to achieve this task.

Repair the Globe

Having disassembled the whole machine, you should check the globe if it is to be repaired. If it has to be repaired, you have to dismantle it. At the top of the globe is a screw. Use the screwdriver to remove it. Afterward, carefully remove the gaskets, nuts, and the ring that is attached to them. Should there be a need to replace any of these components, you can easily get them from stores where vending machines are sold.

Replace the Dispensing Wheel

The dispensing Wheel is below the globe, usually with the brush-off plate. Check if they are both in good working condition. Usually, they should shift when a coin is deposited through the money depositing mechanism.

Moreover, if one or the two components have been damaged, you should consider replacing them. Repairing them after many years may not be perfect. You can also get these components from stores that sell vending machine accessories.

Work on the Money Depositing Mechanism

Observe the money depositor very well. It is usually located at the front of the gumball machine under the dispensing Wheel. The coin depositing mechanism could be very complicated as many issues can be associated with it.

Remove the mechanism after removing the dispensing Wheel, brush off and globe the globe. Then you should test if it is in good condition by putting a coin into it and twisting the vending knob as if you want to make a purchase.

If a part of the coin mechanism gets stuck, you should consider using silicone lubricant to lubricate it. However, lubrication will not be enough if a part of the mechanism is damaged. Therefore, you should consider buying the damaged part or a new money depositing mechanism.

Furthermore, look at the base to see if there are coins that block the mechanism, remove them and cart them away. Lastly, repair the faulty base components and replace them if they are damaged beyond mere.

NOTE: If any of the processes goes beyond what you can do, it would be best if you hire the service of a professional repairer to get it done for you


What Function Does Antique Gumball Machine Perform?

An antique gumball machine is a machine that vends buyer gumballs. It receives money from the buyer through the coin mechanism and then dispenses the gumball through the dispenser. It typically saves the owner the stress of attending to all customers. The machine functions like a human being.

Where was the Antique Gumball Machine Invented?

Thomas Adam Gum Company initially invented the machine in New York City. It was then made available on busy subways for many people to see. The Tutti-Frutti gum was the type of gum initially sold in the machine.

What Is the Lifespan of Gumball?

One cannot tell how long gumball can last. As such, you can’t say precisely how long the gumballs in the machine have stayed. However, with the help of a bit of research, it has been alleged that gumballs can last for an average of twelve months.


You no longer have to panic that you will go home with a fake machine if you decide to buy an antique gumball machine. Of course, many malicious sellers are trying to indulge you into buying the fake products they sell. However, with this guide, it is believed you will make an informed choice and buy a genuine antique gumball machine when you desire.

Detailed information has been provided about identifying antique gumball machines and the factors that affect their value. A brief but encompassing look has also been taken into the history of these old items. More so, you are now familiar with popular manufacturers of antiques. Lastly, you are now aware of a few of the models of these machines.


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Antique Gumball Machine: History, Manufacturers, and Value (2024)
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