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Editor’s Blog: The Baseball Card Vending Machine

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A nice surprise showed up in our email Thursday morning.  A reader in the southeast had found one of our stories on 1970s baseball cards in which a reference was made to nickel sports card vending machines that you used to see in places like K-Mart.

He dropped us a note.

“I was delightebaseball card vending machined to know somebody else knew what I have, or at least remembers buying cards while your Mom was paying for her stuff at the check outs,” Chris wrote.

He sent along these photos–and even showed off a “letter of provenance”.

Hop in the time machine and take a trip back to 1976 for the story.

“You may be interested in knowing my machine came out of a K-mart store, and I even have the letter to authorize its destruction from 1976,” he wrote.  “My father worked for K-mart over 25 years, and when the company discontinued that program, he could not throw it away- as I was a card collector, and it would serve as a “cool” place to store my cards.  He always told me to keep that letter- to prove it wasn’t stolen, of course.”

Chris did indeed store his cards in the machine and he has some from various years inside it now.   Yes, it still works.

“There are not really any parts to break— that weight on top of the cards is heavy enough to kind of push the cards down, so when the coin mechanism is pushed the cards come right out. It is kind of neat to do it 40 or 50 times in a row, like I used to do when I was a kid— sometimes only 4 cards came out— sometimes 6- kind of depends on the “newness” of the cards!”

He’s no longer a collector, but has treated the machine like an heirloom.

” It was always a part of my room growing up— It went to college with me, (as a nightstand)- and was in my game room until 10 years ago, when my first child was born, and the wife found it a new home in my attic.”

vending machine back

While they do pop up in sports memorabilia auction catalogs from time to time, some of which are significantly older, I wonder how many have survived?  Did you see any after the mid-1970s?  A check of eBay produced only this one.

vending machine letter

About Rich Mueller

Rich is the editor and founder of Sports Collectors Daily. A broadcaster and writer for more than 30 years and a collector for even longer than that, he's usually typing something somewhere. Type him back at [email protected].

Comments

  1. Jim Murray says:

    Wow this is awesome! I never knew these existed. I stopped collecting Baseball Cards around 1970, (age 13) so I guess I never paid attention. I picked it up again in 2005 though. Great article, thanks.

  2. Robert McIelwain says:

    Ah yes! — ran into one of those vending machines at a K-Mart in Chula Vista,
    CA (near San Diego) back in June of 1973; my 5c netted me Eddie Brinkman
    & four others.

    Nice article — one part of my trip out west that I still remember quite well!

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