History of the Carousel Gumball Machine
In the 1950's Arthur Gold of Des Plaines, IL invented the Carousel brand gumball machine. At one time, his company Carousel Industries was the world’s largest manufacturers of gumball machines. In the 1980's the company was sold to Ford Gum & Machine Co.
The base of a Carousel gumball machine is made of die cast metal and has a powder coat finish. The globe where gumballs reside is made of glass. The machines are designed for personal use and SHOULD NOT be used in a commercial setting. This is because 1) the glass globe will shatter if the machine is tipped over 2) the coin mechanism will accept almost any coins, including slugs. The Carousel machine will happily vend small size (0.5"- 0.625" diameter) gumballs plus small candies like M&M's, Skittles and the like. The machine works best if gum and candy are not mixed together.
Over time, Carousel gumball machines have been made in various sizes, shapes, and colors. Today, the machines are being produced in red only. In the past, the company produced some novelty machines, such as a green and brown mallard duck gumball machine, which can be found on eBay from time to time, and even some of their old machines play music.
In 1988 Carousel came out with the Junior Gumball Machine Telephone. This whimsical product combined both a working digital telephone and a coin operated gumball dispenser. The image below shows the product and the original box it was packaged in plus the owner's manual and warranty card.
The machines were initially produced in the United States but later production was moved to China. The models made today still have the copyright 1985 embossed on the top right hand side of the coin mechanism. Just because it has the 1985 stamp does not mean it's vintage.
Are Carousel Industries Gumball Machines Collectible?
Carousel brand gumball machines were produced in large numbers and unfortunately vintage machines are not rare. As mentioned above, new machines are still being produced in China. The original machines have two notches in both the top and bottom of the globe lip. These notches are to secure the globe and keep it from being turned. The older machines also have a sticker posted on the bottom base with Carousel Industries logo, name, model number, and possibly phone number (now disconnected).
Over the years, many of the Carousel machines have been used as advertising or promotions, as companies have been known to have their logo or name printed or etched on the surface of the globe (to buy a customized Carousel machine of your own, click custom logo branded machine). Some advertising collectors may be attracted to the vintage machines as a result.
The 15" King Carousel gumball machine has a female threaded receptacle on the base that mates to 22" tall antique style pedestal stand. Together they stand at 37" tall. Today the stands are available only in black but in the past they've been produced in the color red that matches the base. On rare occasion, older 12" Junior size machines have the threaded based and can be mounted to a stand. The new Junior machine is designed to be a table top version only.
What is the value of a Carousel Gumball Machine?
Brand new Carousel gumball machines are widely available today and are generally sold for $30 - $80, depending if stand is included. Used vintage equipment sells for slightly more than new, in the range of $20 - $130 at flea markets, antique stores, or online at eBay.