Is Gold The Next Vending Machine Craze?

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Vending machines usually make us think of candy and soda, but in their nearly 2,000 years of existence, they’ve dispensed some weird things – objects ranging from the sacred (holy water) to the profane (schoolgirls’ used panties).

Now they’ll spit out solid gold by the gram, right here in the United States. The first machine is in South Florida, but 40 more are expected to be installed in malls and resorts across the country this year.

Where did this crazy idea come from? If your first guess was Japan – home of walking Coke vending machine robots, plus instant neckties, eggs, and even live lobsters – you’re wrong. But good guess.

The manufacturer is actually a German company with a name as weird as the idea: Ex Oriente Lux. The Latin phrase roughly means “light from the east,” which sure sounds like a cheesy Japanese brand name.

You’ll need more than a few quarters to use the new vending machine, currently available only at the Town Center Mall in well-to-do Boca Raton, Fla. It dispenses gold bars and coins, ranging in size from your fingernail to your thumb.

According to The Huffington Post, the machine holds up to $150,000 in gold at any given time and automatically adjusts pricing every 10 minutes. Along with a pretty, embossed black giftbox and certificate, the cost includes about a five percent markup from what gold is currently trading at – so an ounce right now (on Jan. 5 at 2 p.m.) would cost about $1,445.

Although the well-named (and colored) “Gold to Go” machine is described on its website as an “unmanned point of sale,” it’s probably the first vending machine to require a bodyguard and multiple cameras. Well, OK, the marijuana vending machines in Los Angeles need security too.

With 40 more planned for the United States this year and machines already installed in the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Italy, and Spain, you have to wonder: Could this crazy idea actually take off? Or is it the madness of Midas? After all, nobody expected vending machines to sell iPods and cell phones, either. What do you think?

Before you think of buying gold – from a vending machine or otherwise – see our post Should You Join the Gold Rush? And if that post makes you want to sell the gold you already have, see our recent story Three Golden Rules for Selling Your Jewelry and Gold Coins.