Velvet Mint Gum

Velvet Mint Gum Co. 1907-1915 Est.

These are two very rare machines that hail from Detroit, MI. They are very early ball gum machines of which not much is known. I would place the vintage in the early 1900’s, probably between 1907 and 1915. The two models shown are the only versions known to be made by this company. I can’t say with any certainty if one model came out first or if they were in production together but if one came first I would guess, based on style and complexity of the mechanism, the one on the left did.

I will talk about the machine on the right first because it is the first model that I acquired by this maker. I actually purchased two of them at the same time. You can view a picture of the pair here. The two machines were found in an attic in Three Rivers, MI in June of 2006. I was lucky enough to get the call when a friend found them. I bought the pair after seeing just a picture of them. They were extremely dirty but both worked well. I was overjoyed to find that a simple wipe with a damp rag brought out the great patina that you see in the pictures. They are wonderful, 100% original examples of a very rare machine. A big "Thank You" to my friend Al for making ME his first call.

The base and lid of the model on the right are made of nickel plated brass and the mechanism is cast iron. The mechanism is extremely simple consisting of only four pieces including the spring. The fancy coin entry on this machine is a great flare; many other machines of the period just had simple slits in the metal to insert the coin. There is no security in the form of a lock; it simply has a nut on the bottom to tighten down the center rod and hold the whole machine together. The nut is a five sided nut though, making it difficult to remove with an ordinary wrench. The fact that it screws together on the bottom makes filling the machine and retrieving coins a bit tricky. You can't simply set the machine on its lid and remove the nut because the lid is not flat. You have to turn the machine over, hold on to it while removing the nut, then hold it together while turning it back over to remove the lid for filling. Seems like a dangerous process just to get product into your vendor.

The machine on the left is, according to my research and inquiries, possibly the only known survivor. It is the one pictured in “Silent Salesman Too”. The globe is similar to a Chic-Mint and the body style is reminiscent of a Bluebird Twirl Chute. In “Silent Salesman Too” Bill Enes says it is difficult to get your gumball out because of the size of the hole. He is spot on because I can hardly fit my forefinger and thumb in it at the same time. It is made of nickel plated, formed steel with some cast iron and brass mechanism pieces.

The size of this machine was a surprise to me. I got the other version first and had always pictured this version being similar in size. As you can see it is dwarfed by its companion. It measures just 10” and that is with the boost of its rubber feet. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw its small stature. It looks even more appealing than I expected. You can view a closer picture of this machine here. I had wanted this machine since I got the other version but figured I would never get the chance to own it because of its rarity. One day a friend emailed and said he had some machines to trade. I opened the picture and saw this machine staring at me. We struck a trade and now the two models are back together, as they may have been at the factory, after an almost 100 year separation.