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Today there are relatively few survivors. This 6ft 2in (1.87m) high 'column and drawer' machine is particularly elaborate, with eight vertical dispensers to include Chocolate Cream, Peppermints, Throat Pastilles, Palm Toffee, Matches and Cigarettes.

It was made by Sweetmeat Automatic Delivery Company of Southwark Street, London in the 1890s. The firm closed in 1904.

Now professionally restored and repainted in a pillar box red with white detail, it proved the more desirable of two late Victorian machines offered for sale at Chiswick Auctions in West London on March 5.

Both had come from a storage facility.

Estimated £800-1500, bidding for this machine reached £7500 before it sold to a collector who told the auctioneers it was extremely rare.

The other machine at the sale was a Nestle's One-Penny chocolate bar machine with twin column dispensers for Nestles Milk Chocolate at 1d each, and Smokers Chocolate at 2d each. It sold at £2500.

The buyer's premium was 20%.