BLANCO, Texas – In his decades-long career as a writer, magazine editor and digital publisher, Jim Bunte has covered every antiques category imaginable, from early American photographs to old railroad boxcars. He is also a visionary who was way ahead of the curve in spotting how railroad cars might be recycled and reimagined as trendy, affordable housing. But his most recent project looks back in time through a series of light, visually rich, single-topic books published under the aegis of “Antique Americana.”
The first volume of the series – printed by Kindle Direct Publishing – is titled Coin-Operated Devices. It’s an immensely entertaining and informative 95-page book containing photographs of machines the author photographed more than 20 years ago. Many of the featured machines are turn-of-the-century gum vendors, e.g., Pulver, Zeno, but there are also trade stimulators, baseball, golf and bagatelle-style games; and novelty machines like strength and “drunk” testers.
As Bunte notes in his introduction, “What’s really amazing about these machines is the unbelievable ingenuity involved, not just in terms of overall design, but also the functionality, marketing angles, and ingenious methods of parting men from their money.”
Coin-Operated Devices is not a price guide, Bunte explains, “because in this day and age, you can look up something’s value in seconds.” He includes LiveAuctioneers as one of the prime online sources for that sort of thing.
“This book is not meant to be a comprehensive treatment of the category – hardly,” he says. “Rather, it’s just a fun and breezy look at these incredibly inventive devices.”
The main focus of the book is visual, but with the addition of generous descriptive paragraphs that tell the reader what makes each machine special. It’s the kind of book you’d want to take with you to lounge in a hammock or curl up in an armchair on a rainy day.
Antique Americana: Coin-Operated Devices can be purchased in either hardcover or softcover format online at www.antique-americana.com. Each book purchase entitles the buyer to a free digital download (see website for details).
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