It started with a casual thought in a team meeting…“wouldn’t it be awesome if the library had one of those old timey art-o’matic vending machines?” Considering the number of art-based programming, gallery exhibits, community partnerships, and overall super creative staff, this certainly felt like something PPL had to have.
Art and creativity thrive in our spaces. Two weeks later, PPL’s graphic designer, Cy Bennett, returned to Portland from Pownal with a vintage 1966 Fawn Fleetwood Cigarette vending machine strapped down in the back of his pickup truck.
Combining his professional attention to design detail and inherently mechanical mind, Cy has transformed the Fawn Fleetwood into an eye-catching fully functioning work of modern art with a nod to its vintage roots, replacing the cigarette products with surprising offerings from community partners.
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No chill required. The 1966 Fawn Fleetwood, sourced in in Pownal, Maine, was an excellent choice because it was built to vend items that did not require refrigeration, therefore there was no nasty insulation to work around. An added bonus: the machine is not reliant on electronics.
The price was right. But to get this machine in working order, careful and time-consuming disassembly was required. Each mechanical part and component had to be removed, inspected for defects, and cleaned.
Coin separators are a mechanical wonder. Cy’s favorite part of the project was learning how the mechanical coin separators works. Once he understood the mechanics of the component, each weight, lever, and spring had to be cleaned and lubricated to ensure smooth operation.
Keep it simple. Because of the original machine’s simple design, retrofitting to get the right look and feel was less challenging. Cy researched and selected elements to achieve a vintage appeal that evoked PPL’s 1978 reopening (and how libraries in general looked in the 70’s). No detail was overlooked! To replace the decorative panel, Cy had to recreate the original design and had it reprinted on static cling film. He customized the top panel with simple vinyl lettering spelling out in crisp lettering PORTLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY. A closer look reveals that even the coin slot display has been refreshed, and vacuum formed in plastic.
The Fawn Fleetwood is a fresh way for the Downtown Library to have fun with community partners who have supplied designated slots with something fun and unexpected. For patrons and visitors, each item offers an opportunity to discover part of Portland they might not know about.
And Cy would add, with a devious grin, it is fun to consider that some patrons might think a cigarette vending machine was original to the library experience! Portland Room’s Abraham A. Schechter, Special Collections Librarian & Archivist, reports no evidence of smoking being permitted inside Portland Public Library in the late 70’s—within the era of Surgeon Generals’ warnings.
We are so excited to announce, in playful partnership with Portland Trails, Downtown Portland, The Telling Room, Maine College of Art & Design, and the Downtown Librarians, the launch of the library’s first restored-and-retrofitted vending machine! Throughout the year, the Fawn Fleetwood will vend a healthy array of fun goodies ranging from mini–Portland Trail Maps to sweet stickers, and the most adorable mini book covers encouraging users to find and read the corresponding book in the collection. You never know what will be discovered at Portland Public Library. Stop by the Downtown Library and see what surprises await!
Want to join the fun? Contact Rachael Harkness (firstname.lastname@example.org) to bring your organization or company to the attention of library patrons.posted: , by Heather Wasklewicz