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Re: Harper Vending Machines

Posted: Wed May 10, 2017 5:09 pm
by oztoyman

Re: Harper Vending Machines

Posted: Fri May 12, 2017 3:44 pm
by gameswat
Thank you for the video Oz, what a ripper. Have never seen its like before and for a minute I thought someone updated the thing with an '80s electronic sign! Hell of a lot of mech needed to make it work. The Mills 1939 Panoram machine is the only thing I can think of that's similar, having a banner type script running along the top like this, but not with the crazy punched out digital lettering! Would be interesting to find the patent for that mechanism and see if it pre or post dates the Panoram?

Harper cigarette machine

Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:12 pm
by inkcollector
Edited and copied from Introductions/Harper cigarette machine - Site Admin.

...looking for information about a nice little Harper slot machine I found yesterday in a bus yard I’ve been clearing. How this survived so well when the shed was so open to the elements is amazing.

Re: Harper cigarette machine

Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:51 pm
by pennymachines
Here are a couple of similar examples that I've seen.

Re: Harper cigarette machine

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:50 am
by ilovemyjukebox
That's a good looking machine and what's more, it comes with its history too. If you do manage to get the front off, inside it should have a certificate that will tell you who checked it before it left the factory and what date that was.

Harper cigarette machine

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 12:11 pm
by coppinpr
Having spent much of my youth in Croydon I tried to find out the address of Harper Automatics (I couldn't, so if anyone knows could they tell please).

BUT I did find this interesting article in the London Gazette about the owner of Harper automatics (Percy Harper) going through a court case for allegedly getting members of the staff at Harpers (a tinsmith and a manager) to bribe electors by buying them drinks in a pub when he stood (unsuccessfully) for parliament in 1938. Percy didn't actually buy the drinks himself but was in the pub and did play darts with the electors....shame on him. It's a good job politicians don't do anything that bad today. :lol:

County Borough Elections in England and Wales, 1919–1938: A Comparative Analysis: Volume 3: Chester to East Ham

Re: Harper Vending Machines

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:05 pm
by pennymachines
Yes, I also found that titbit last night when searching for more details about the company.
One other issue enlivened the municipal politics of Croydon in 1938 when three local men were prosecuted on charges of bribing electors at a municipal election. Percy Harper, the managing director of the Harper Automatic Machine Manufacturing Company, had stood unsuccessfully as an RA candidate in a by-election in Whitehorse Manor ward on 8 December 1937. Two of his employees, a manager in his firm and a tinsmith, had allegedly 'frequently treated electors to drinks in public houses' in the two weeks of campaigning and on the night of the poll. In addition, 'three sums, totalling 5s.' were distributed on other occasions by Harper's canvassers. Harper himself had been in the pubs at the time of the alleged 'treating', and had played darts with the customers, but he himself had not stood the rounds of drinks. The case went to the Central Criminal Court, and was sensational enough to prompt questions in Parliament, where a Tory MP demanded to know who the 'informer' was who had prompted the charges, implying that it was someone in the Croydon Labour party. As there was no evidence that Harper himself had paid for the drinks, he was eventually acquitted, along with his employees. There is no way of knowing, of course, how the electors of Croydon viewed these events, but some at least amongst them must have wondered why a prosperous businessmen should frequent the public houses of a ward he was standing in, whose inhabitants were described in the Times as 'of the working class', while one of his managers bought drinks all round.
Mr. H. G. Williams asked the Attorney-General the name of the common informer on whose instigation the Public Prosecutor initiated criminal proceedings for alleged offences in connection with a municipal election in Croydon against Mr. Percy Harper, Mr. John Terry, and Mr. William Peacock?
The Attorney-General The question refers to a common informer, but this was not a prosecution brought by a common informer but was a prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is contrary to the public interest to disclose the identities of any persons who may have given information to the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to prosecutions undertaken by him. I need not add that the fullest inquiries were made before these proceedings were brought and the justices, after hearing evidence, committed the case for trial.
Mr. Williams Shall I be right in assuming that the Labour party of Croydon were very disappointed when the jury stopped the case?
Mr. Thorne Is the Attorney-General aware that the common informer is the most despicable man in the world?
The Attorney-General This case had nothing to do with a common informer.

Some more cig vendors here:

I find it astonishing how hard it is to find so much as the full address of the factory or offices of a London-based company with several decades of manufacturing history and a string of patents to its name. Sweetmeat's token (which carries an image of what I take to be the factory) is stamped "D. HARPER & CO'S AUTOMATIC MACHINES HOLLOWAY RD. LONDON. N." (although the piece above identifies Percy Harper as the managing director). From the transfer close-up on Ian's machine, we get "Waddon, Croydon" and on the excellent Mals Machine Tokens site there is a guarantee slip from the company dated 31st July, 1930 which appears to be signed by Percy Harper and gives us: The Harper Automatic Machine Manufacturing Co. Limited, Automatic Works, Stafford Road, Waddon, Croydon, Surrey and two phone numbers which I can't read.

Re: Harper cigarette machine

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:54 pm
by inkcollector
ilovemyjukebox wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:50 am
That's a good looking machine and what's more, it comes with its history too. If you do manage to get the front off, inside it should have a certificate that will tell you who checked it before it left the factory and what date that was.
That’s good to know. I can’t wait to open it tomorrow now and see what’s inside. I’ll post what I find here. For me the story is as interesting as the item. I’m hoping that the person who was checking the machine was a local chap with a local name so I can trace them back.

Re: Harper Vending Machines

Posted: Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:57 pm
by inkcollector
What a shame, I think I’ve misread. The name of the person who checked it before it left the factory and not the person who regularly checked the machine... never mind.

Re: Harper Vending Machines

Posted: Sun Nov 04, 2018 5:14 pm
by pennymachines
Further research reveals that between 1929 and 1944 Harper filed over 50 patents relating to improvements in coin-operated vending, including German, Danish, Austrian and Canadian patents. I've added them to Archive/Patents. Until 1935 Percy Stephen Harper records his address as Adelaide House, 1, Ashurst Walk, Croydon, Surrey, but by 1937 the Automatic Works address at Waddon is given.

There are just two non-coin-op filings after the war from a new address (101, Purley Downs Road, Sanderstead, Surrey), suggesting the company had stopped trading by this time. Ominously, these are for Improvements in Abdominal Belts (1956) and Improvements in Appliances for Treating Hernia (1957). Anyone who's moved a floor-standing Harper vending machine will know where he was coming from!

Apparently nearby Crystal Palace F.C. employed local businessmen to chair the board and a Mr Percy Harper took the role in 1939.

Again, based upon what can be gleaned from the patents, and other scattered snippets of information, it is incredible that there is nothing more substantial recorded about this once dominant company. British vending machine history remains largely unwritten it seems.

It is often stated that an American named William Rowe invented the cigarette vending machine in 1926. Whether this is correct, I don't know. Harper's first patent was 321842 in 1929.

I've posted some Harper vendors in the Museum. The earliest example is mounted on a wall outside at Stamford: Harper De Luxe.

This machine carries the usual instructions about inserting a coin and pulling out the drawer. Later machines have 'ENTIRELY AUTOMATIC' cast into their fronts. It is evident from the patents that Harper strove to limit user interaction to the inserting of a coin. The machine does the rest, first by purely mechanical means, later electro-mechanical.

Two column floor standing Entirely Automatic

Three column floor standing Entirely Automatic

Four column floor standing Entirely Automatic

Later version three column floor stander

Aristo's single column wall mounted Harper Super Product

Harper it seems focussed almost exclusively on cigarette vending machines, which ranged from single column wall mounted to 2, 3 and 4 column wall and floor models. Here are a few more images trawled from the net: