The first ice-cooled vending machine was made in 1910, and it held only 12 bottles. Soon to follow, the first electric machine was created by Glascock Brothers in 1930. With the invention of dry refrigeration in the 1950’s, the soda machine boomed. Coke machines have been around for decades, so the true value of old Coke machines varies depending on the machine’s condition and the model.
A Coke machine’s condition can be graded as mint, excellent, good or poor. To receive a grade of mint condition, the machine must look as new as it did when originally manufactured. In most cases it must also be unused and in its original, unopened packaging. An excellent grade machine may have tiny scratches or marks on the outer rim or edges. The machine can be used but it would require that its original although opened packaging still be available. Good Coke machines have a moderate amount of scratches or flaking and may even have dents or rust. A poor grade would be given to a machine that is badly rusted and worn, possibly dented and chipped.
The Vendo 39 is a common model produced from 1949 to mid-1957. This machine held a total of 39 bottles. The earlier models held 6 ½-ounce bottles while the later models held 12-oz. bottles. The earliest version was completely red but toward the late '50s the color scheme changed to red and white.
The Vendo 56 was made in 1957 and is highly sought after because of its smaller size. The machine held 56 bottles in almost any size available.
The Vendo 81 was manufactured in the mid- to late-'50s and was available in three different models. The models included: A, which was red with a green medallion on the bottle door; B, which had a two-tone paint; and D, which had the embossed area enlarged, had a larger door and held 6 ½-oz. bottles as well as 12-oz. bottles. All three models held 81 bottles.
The true value of a machine will vary depending on its condition and popularity. The Vendo 39 can have a value of around $5,000 to $6,000 fully restored. The Vendo 56 fully restored has a value of between $5,500 and $6,000. The most popular collectible though is the Vendo 81. It can cost between $6,000 and $6,500 fully restored.
Heather Mckinney has been writing for over 23 years. She has a published piece in the University Archives detailing the history of an independently owned student newspaper. Mckinney holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from University of Texas at San Antonio.