Anyone know the history of copper bubble gum charms?

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Anyone know the history of copper bubble gum charms?

Post by edteach » Thu Oct 18, 2018 4:24 pm

I collect when I can find them the copper bubble gum charms. From looney toons to what ever. I was told they were plastic under neath and vacuum formed copper on top.

Cyndy Boesch
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Re: Anyone know the history of copper bubble gum charms?

Post by Cyndy Boesch » Thu Oct 18, 2018 7:24 pm

I don't know anything about these, except that they are plastic underneath the "copper" coating. I have had several that have worn off down to the plastic.

Jeffrey Maxwell
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Location: Wellington KS

Re: Anyone know the history of copper bubble gum charms?

Post by Jeffrey Maxwell » Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:53 pm

Yes. I do know the history of copper (and bronze, silver, and gold colored) bubble gum charms.

Samuel Eppy was a leader in the bulk vending industry who pioneered both vacuum plating and vacuum metalizing for plastics. He started Samuel Eppy & Co., Inc. in 1938 in Jamaica, NY.

This was about the time that modern plastics were coming into their own, with the introduction of an injection molding process for a new plastic called polystyrene, an adaptation of the injection molding process patented by John Wesley Hyatt when he discovered a compound called celluloid in 1872. (This would later be replaced by the screw injection molding process first built by James Watson Hendry in 1946 and perfected for industry use in 1948).

Eppy introduced the first plastic charm in America to replace the metal ones then in use. He then came up with a way to plate plastic with metal using a vacuum plating process. He later came up with a way to use less metal with a thinner layer, thus cheaper, that Eppy called vacuum metalizing. (He also came up with the innovation of two-part capsules used for vending one charm at a time.)

Eppy became one of the largest companies in the bulk vending business. Most of its income, about 2/3, came from making charms that would be dumped into a machine full of gumballs. He sold charms wholesale to anyone who had a need for them (including some to Cracker Jack). The balance of his income was novelty toys to be sold over the counter.

In 1960, you could buy 10,000 color vacuum metalized charms for $37.50 and you get a bonus G.E. alarm clock for free. This mix came with over 200 different shapes.

/// Side Note: I would be interested to know who is listed as the company on the Cracker Jack records for Eppy charms. The following paragraph will explain why I am interested in that information. ///

Karl Guggenheim, Inc. was a company that was established in 1906 and incorporated in 1918. The firm began importing charms from Japan in 1926 and became one of the leading suppliers of the bulk vending business. The founder's son Bob Guggenheim became president in 1948. When Eppy first started charm production, his biggest customer was Karl Guggenheim, Inc., which acted as a distributor. In the January 1962 Eppy merged with Karl Guggenheim, Inc.

Samuel Eppy's brothers George and Sidney bought all of Samuel's stock and became the president and vice president of the newly formed Eppy Guggenheim, Inc. Bob Guggenheim became the secretary and general sales manager. The company's combined sales were $1 million and worked out of Eppy's Jamaica NY plant which was 33,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space and operated 10 hours a day producing 7 to 9 million charms a week using screw injection molding equipment. In a photo picturing some large drums in a 1962 article in Billboard Magazine is a caption that reads: PRIDE OF THE PLANT is the vacuum metalizing department capable of processing 7 to 8 million charms a week.

On August 1, 1965, the company, then called Eppy Charms, Inc., move to a different plant previously occupied by Commonwealth Plastics Corp. in Leominster Mass. in the heart of the plastics molding industry 40 miles from Boston. The new plant had 32,000 square feet and employed 150 skilled workers and produced 1.5 million charms a day. National marketing and distribution efforts remained in the Greater Metropolitan New York area.

Oceanside NY resident Frank Parisi, the largest bulk vending route owner in NYC told me his father, a contemporary of the Eppy brothers, bought Eppy Charm Company in 1973. He told me he wanted to use original Eppy molds to make some retro charms, but I never heard if he followed through on it. They would not have been vacuum metalized.

That's a pretty interesting story. I should write this stuff down. How I know any of this is a whole story in itself. Please let me know if you have any questions or want more information.

Happy Collecting!
Jeffrey Maxwell

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