header photo

The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated Machine Information Site 

                                                                  Strange & Unusual Page 2

                                      Vending machines & strength testers

                                                                         Strength Testers

Although not in its self a strange or unusual style of machine there have been some very odd attempts by coin op makers to produce a variation on the basic theme. The basic strength tester must be one of the oldest type of slot machine and a direct decendent of the fairground "show off your strength" attraction (hit the bell by hammering a plug up a pole with a hammer,punch the punch bag, etc). But although its the basic type of strength tester that has survived in arcades to this day its was the unusual versions that were the top of the range in there day. first a couple of standard strength testers still popular today.




                                                                         Compare those to these!


    Callie, "Micky Finn" tug of war(face of Alfred E Newman), and "Pull the tigers tail and make him roar" Exibit Supply Co



  Two machines from the Mills Co the "Barbell lifter" and the "Mills Owl lifter",(a sure way to get permanent back                                                                                                  damage and a hernia) 


                 A couple of chances to take the bull by the horns(both these machines are quite modern 



                           A traditional punch bag(Mills)   and a twist on the theme with the bag held in front



                                         Caille "Apollo" and "uncle Sam" grip tester (Caille I think)


                       Arm wrestler,made in Japan by Ikemoto Shatai Kogyo Co Ltd probably early 70's

                I was undecided as to putting this chap on page 3 (sports) or here on page 2  (strength testers)


                                                                      Vending Machines


    Yes, vending machines do deserve a place here,they are,without doubt, the oldest form of coin operated machine.    The first recorded coin operated machine comes from about 215 BC and was a water vendor from Egypt. Later both ancient Greece and Rome had coin operated water vendors,some times dispensing holy water at holy sites.


 Vending machines have been used to dispence almost everything over the years from eggs to coal and from french fries to fresh bread but here,on this page, we are only interested in the most unusual.

Surprisingly England led the way in the "modern era" waking up the world to vending machines in the 19th cent with picture postcard vendors but 200 years before that English pubs has both coin operated pipe tobacco and gin vendors

            this rather nice gin dispenser is from the 17th cent (English)

             "Old Tom" Gin still exists today  

The 19th cent produced many vendors including many nice cigar,and tobacco vendors but perhaps the most unusual machines come from after WW1 to the present day


  Two machines from the 1920's, the 24 hour Grocers shop  &  the "Metro" Gas Mantle vendor(very useful in its day)


  This English made  whisky(with soda or water) vendor                                       American apple vendor

              was most likely for theatre bar use



This chap doesn't look odd it sold secondhand books                            This English (BAC) record recorder was on 

         the odd part was they were random titles!!                                   site at a railway station,great background noise


This razor blade dispenser  is perhaps not one                         This is one of several religious vendors made

             for the high street today                                                         this one dispensing  communion wafers

                                                                                                                       I do love its advertising slogan



Although this site looks mostly at machines from pre 1980 we cannot close the vending machine section without a quick look at a few very unusual modern machines. After WW2 the far east, especially Japan ,fell in love with the vending machine, after the tragic tsunami in Japan a few years ago it was found that there were so many vending machines in Japan the weakened electrical supply system couldn't cope with it and strict laws cutting down the numbers of electric machines in use were brought out ,this forced Coca cola to develop a coke vendor that uses practically no power to run it 24/7 so at least one good thing came out of that disaster.  Japan have produced some of the most outlandish machines ever. here are just three.



        The gold bar vendor(mostly seen in the middle east)        The live crab vendor(often found on railway platforms)


        This harmless Nylons vendor from 1950's America seems to have developed into this rather dubious "used un                                                                                                                                         washed panties" vendor in Japan.

       And to end with, the worlds largest coin op vending machine, these are not toy cars,this giant 60 space car vendor is in Singapore,is fully automated and yes uses a coin, the buyer is given a large token which he inserts at the entrance and the computer finds his car and delivers it to the entrance.