What Lies Within

Recently, Ben visited an old operator near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to pick some fresh merch for Coinopwarehouse. He filled his trailer with a variety of items that included Top Gun Challenge Dart Games, Victor Baby Grand Gumballs machines, some video games, some bowlers, and two Chexx Hockey games.

In addition to all of these, he purchased twenty five 1956 Oak Premiere 2 cent gumball and card vendor machines. A machine like these sold recently at auction for over $500, and Lloyd was selling these on his Facebook page for a bargain at $250. These machines were used in the 1950’s and 1960’s to sell gumballs and whatever trading cards the vendor happened to have on hand.

What was even more interesting though was what we found inside these machines! Some were full of Topps Football trading cards from 1958 and 1968. Among those we found were a 1958 Jim Brown Rookie Card and many Bob Griese Rookie Cards. These cards were in mint condition as they had remained untouched all these years inside these vending machines. The colors were still bright. When it comes to trading cards, condition is everything. A recent Ebay auction for a 1958 Jim Brown RC sold at over $2,000. Even when these cards are in not in the best condition, they have sold for more than $600, just for one card! http://www.ebay.com/csc/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&LH_Complete=1&_nkw=1958%20topps%20football%20brown&_sop=3

Lloyd realized that what was inside of these vending machines might be worth more than the machines themselves! After doing a little research, he decided to take the cards to a nearby sports card auctioneer for an estimate of the value.

We were told that the best of the cards, making a set, should be sent for grading before going to auction, but that if the cards had a high grade and we could make a complete set, we would do very well with them. The auctioneer felt that many of the cards would have a very high grade. They are going to auction and we will know in a month or so how well we did.

You never know what you might find inside a coin operated machine! Once, Lloyd and I picked up a Space Shuttle pinball machine from a beautiful home in a nearby neighborhood. When we opened it up, there was a crack pipe and a bag of marijuana inside. I imagine someone was very disappointed to find that their stash disappeared when his mother sold Lloyd the game.

Another time, Lloyd found a stack of unused James Brown tickets from 1963 inside a Wurlitzer 1400 jukebox.  The vending company owner had been a concert promoter in Richmond, Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s.  Lloyd sold the tickets for many times more than what he got for the jukebox.

Along those lines, Ben found a 1930’s Ziegler Nightclub “Hot, Sweet, Swing”  art deco concert poster inside a 1930’s Wurlitzer jukebox.  It now hangs on Ben’s wall.

We frequently find machines that still have a coinbox full of coins. The newer games that have bill acceptors can sometimes have enough money inside to cover the cost of the game we have just bought!

Sometimes unexpected items don’t just appear inside machines that come in to our shop. Unfortunately, sometimes they appear in items leaving our shop! Lloyd learned to look inside games as they are loaded. One time we found dozens of boards from other nearby games that the customer said mysteriously appeared inside an Atari Battlezone he was loading up.

What surprises have you found inside of your machines? Share your story in a comment!

2 thoughts on “What Lies Within

  1. Just ran across this very cool story about the Football Cards still
    being in the vending machines.
    May I ask what ever happened to the football cards?
    As I collect 1968 Topps Football and would be very interested
    in purchasing some, if they might still be available.
    Please do drop me a note if you would.
    Thanks a lot!!

    • We put them through Huggins and Scott, a sports auction house. They brought several thousand dollars, more than the machines.

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