We generally think that vending machines are an American invention of the late 19th Century. But they have an interesting history well before that. Some of the key milestones are listed below:
215 B.C. - Hero, a mathematician, described a coin-activated device that vended holy water.
1615 - English taverns had tobacco and snuffboxes that needed a coin to open. They are often referred to as "honor boxes" because once opened it was hoped the user would only take one portion.
1822 - Richard Carlile constructed a vending machine for books and newspapers.
1857 - a British patent was issued for a vending machine.
1867 - Vending machine models were built for handkerchiefs, cigarettes and confections.
1884 - First patent issued in the USA for an "Automatic Drawing Device."
1885 - German penny scales were imported into the USA.
1890 - A coin-operated picture-taking machine was introduced in England
1891- an Automatic Fountain introduced in Paris. The Automat was not introduced into the USA until 1902 when the Horn & Hardart Company opened it first automat.
In contrast, it was only in 1888 when Thomas Adams, founder of the Adams Gum Company introduced gum machines to sell Tutti-Frutti gum on NYC train stations. This is generally considered the beginning of vending machines in the USA.
For more information on the history of vending, there is a great booklet called: "A Concise History Of Vending In The U.S.A. It is only $10 and can be purchased on the following web page: NAME Trade Association Book Page .
Copyright: 2012 Ken Durham
Go back to Sales Lists, Wanted Lists and Trade Lists menu.
Go back to GameRoomAntiques
For more information on:
3000 Galloway Ridge, C-306
Pittsboro NC 27312
For Orders Only: 202-213-1585
All others, please email: