Figural Hen vendors

American, British, French or German? We want to know about it.
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gameswat
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Figural Hen vendors

Post by gameswat »

Hey guys, new project to ponder over and looking for any information on it please. Very excited to finally "lay" my hands on one of these pressed zinc egg vendors, been lusting after one since seeing the example pictured in Automatic Pleasures, only taken 25 years! This must date circa late 1890's or early 1900. Was purchased from a general store in Tasmania in the 1950's. Someone started restoration a while ago and other than the atrocious repaint they somehow managed to lose the exterior trim!! Nothing I can't fabricate but would help to see another example or possibly an advert to copy from? After a decent amount of research I'm yet to find an image of this version anywhere and quite distinctive with the rectangular basket. I'm also missing the clucking mechanism but I do own a complete Reichert Hen House from the late 1920's and that has the sound, so can base on that I'm sure. Though totally different egg laying mechanisms, the Reichert uses gears and a turning handle, while this earlier version uses a pull and push lever and a ratcheting system inside to rotate.

And has me wondering exactly how these hollow zinc figural cases were actually made? Seems to be purely a French style of manufacture. They also made figural advertising signs this way. Obviously the cheapest method they had at the time to form complicated hollow three dimensional shapes. Since the figures are always made up of smaller pieces of pressed zinc soldered together they obviously form them over a carved mold. Guessing an original is carved in hard wood, then small sheets are tacked in place and gently pounded onto the mold using bags full of steel shot? This way the pieces are small enough to be removed from the form after shaping without getting stuck in place. By slightly overlapping each sheet they can eventually be jigsaw puzzled back together to form the total shape and soldered. Even though thin and flimsy by themselves, the total three dimensional form would add a lot more strength to the whole. But still very fragile and delicate for any to have survived until now, especially compared to cast iron machines.
Attachments
hen 1.jpg
hen 2.jpg
hen 4.jpg
hen 3.jpg
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ddstoys
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by ddstoys »

That a very interesting piece you have there can't say I've seen one or even one similar.

Good luck finding photos to help the restore.

I hear plenty of stories about amazing old coin op gear coming out of tassie for such a small state it has some great secrets
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gameswat
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by gameswat »

The machine arrived weeks ago and has quickly become one of my all time faves! The cabinet is so delicate it's ridiculous that it has survived this long in such great condition. The basket sides and hen are pressed zinc, while the top of the basket is thin pressed tin. This had to be slightly stronger to lock the machine down. The mech is fantastic quality but the coin portion is missing a few levers and at first i couldn't get my head around how it originally worked?? But the egg laying portion works fine. So decided to try and find some Patent info on it so I could proceed.

And I actually had great success researching this on the internet, bless it's silicon heart. Rarely have i found so much information on one machine, yet not come across another surviving example? Google Patent search is truly outstanding and seems as though everything is available today. The hard part is finding them as the terminology used can be quite vague to say the least. Took about an hour to track down a US Design Patent dating 1899 which covers this exact basket design I have, doesn't cover any other part of the design like hen etc. I imagine this was probably the US agent, or could've been someone stealing the design?

Then after another six hours of hardcore searching actually found the mechanism Patent! Can't say how excited I was. This is a US Patent 1897, but the machine isn't French after all as the Patent was filed by a
Russian inventor living in Germany. The egg laying portion is pretty much exactly like mine, but the coin mech is far simpler in the Patent. So like a lot of Patents I've found over the years, the original design was improved upon during testing and the actual machine has a more sophisticated layout. But there was enough information for me to figure out the original operation of the mech. I had theorised a way to make it work, but not using all the springs still attached. Then with the drawings I was able to make sense of it all quickly. Still prototyping the missing lever in card and another that needs a missing section made. So the only issue i still have is the missing Clucking bellows to figure out.

Then a few days later I once again got stuck into research and ended up staying up all night. But worth the effort as tracked down a flyer page for my actual machine!! Comes from a German 400 + page catalogue for the dealer Ernst Holzweissig dated 1898. Gets really interesting here though as the flyer was shown on a Tasmanian website, and it has an ink stamp on the top left hand corner with a Melbourne address!? And the website mentioned there was a written notation along with it stating the sender of the flyer had seen one of these machines located at the Coles Book Arcade in Melbourne. ( Coles was a famous store that ran 5 vending hens in total during it's life span from 1889 to 1929). After contacting the women who ran the website she told me this was part of some correspondence with the Launceston City Council as they were thinking of purchasing the machine for a local tourist area called Cataract Gorge. I'm still waiting to find out more from this woman and have also asked the Auctioneer if he can find out more from the original seller, all i know is the machine came from a general store somewhere in Tasmania. But looks likely that it was purchased by the council and operated at the Gorge, then later sold to a local store owner.
Attachments
henne back.jpg
henne front.jpg
design patent.png
US578994-0.png
1645904_original.jpg
pennymachines
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by pennymachines »

Fascinating story! Looking forward to the next episode.
Do you have a manufacturer name?
I tend to forget those early German automata catalogues when researching old machines.
All I can add is a bigger scan from my copy of the 1898 catalogue.
Literal translation of base plaque:
After insertion of a 10 PF piece you pull the knob, then the hen will lay a fine egg and at the same time cluck (cackle)
Attachments
hen-vendor.gif
pennymachines
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by pennymachines »

Interesting that this should now turn up on ebay US: Circa 1896 German egg laying chicken, works with a nickel
$_57a.JPG


$_57b.JPG


$_57c.JPG

It's had much of the mechanism rebuilt but the BIN price doesn't seem outrageous.
I now know of three quite different versions of the cast iron egg laying vendor. I wonder if there are others.
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gameswat
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by gameswat »

This eBay machine isn't as old as claimed, i believe 1920's. The modernist stand is a bit of a give away. This particular machine has seen better days as the mech has been extensively remodelled as can be seen by the extra hole in the front casting, plus there are at least two other plugged up holes of some kind to the castings that are painted over. Doesn't seem to have any sound bellows either.

These three different hens pictured are all cast iron. Two by MUM around 1920. And another by Reichert also around 1920 which is the precursor to the 1928 Hen House and Witches House, all examples employing identical mechanisms. I've seen another cast version on a huge oval floor standing base that John Gresham owned. Can't find a photo though. That example had a more recent push/pull coin mech added though and had lost it's original coin gear and sound. That appeared to date 1920's or 30's i think?
Attachments
Reichert, circa 1920
Reichert, circa 1920
MUM Henne, 1920
MUM Henne, 1920
MUM henne
MUM henne
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gameswat
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by gameswat »

pennymachines wrote:Interesting that this should now turn up on ebay US: Circa 1896 German egg laying chicken, works with a nickel
I did some research and think this version is by the German firm Hartwig and Vogel and dates as late as 1935.
pennymachines
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by pennymachines »

Ah, well done!
The date was obviously out - I would have guessed '30s. In fact the version below, sold by Auction Team Breker (Cologne) on November 24, 2012 (and made 6085 Euro), was catalogued as circa 1935, manufacturer unknown.
Hartwig & Vogel chocolate egg vendor
Hartwig & Vogel chocolate egg vendor


Another example
Another example

It's not surprising therefore that one appears on the back of the 1930s Bolland's Amusement Machines catalogue.
bollands-hen.jpg

Rather like your version, they appear to use a push release, not a crank, to vend the eggs.

The 1896 date presumably came from the Stollwerck & Co. cast iron egg vendor which seems to be the ancestor of them all.
Stollwerck & Co. chocolate egg vendor
Stollwerck & Co. chocolate egg vendor

Some more examples:
Hartwig & Vogel (case only)
Hartwig & Vogel (case only)


Hartwig & Vogel
Hartwig & Vogel


MUM chocolate egg vendor
MUM chocolate egg vendor


MUM
MUM


MUM
MUM


MUM
MUM


?
?

On the subject of vending machines, I found this interesting piece from the Independent, May 1995, announcing the publication of Automatic Vending Machines by Colin Emmins: Put your penny in the slot
It mentions a private collection of "up to 100" vending machines "tucked away in a restored castle in Larbert, Sterlingshire, the cherished property of 79-year-old John Findlay-Russell, founder in 1935 of the Russell of Larbert vending machine company." Did anyone visit? John Findlay Russell died June 4, 2005. The "castle" is presumably Kinnaird House.
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gameswat
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by gameswat »

I finally remembered that the Shire books had some Hen vendor photos. Automatic Vending mis-dates this Hartwig and Vogel machine as circa 1900.

Amusement Machines has this oval based Hen which appears to be the same bird as the Hartwig design, but without the roped edge border along the oval lid. Amusement Machines states on the caption to this photo " This German machine was popular in England during the 1920's and 1930's, when over five million eggs were produced each year". I've only seen three examples and all in the UK. The style of that base immediately makes me think of BAC. And since they were the major vending operators in the UK at that time my feeling is this machine was probably copied from the Hartwig and Vogel machines by them under licence. Just as I believe they did with the Roovers Metal Stampers.
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automatic vending machines hen.jpg
amusement machines hen.jpg
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gameswat
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Re: French figural Hen vendor by ????

Post by gameswat »

So far the earliest Patent I have found for a Vending Hen is this one which was first Patented in Germany December 7, 1893, No. 80,423. Shown in this link is the later 1896 US Patent but the earlier German date is stated: https://www.google.com/patents/US552529 ... CDkQ6AEwAA
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