Parking Meters

COLLECTOR: JOHN ANDERSON, 120 ITEMS

My collection is composed mainly of mechanical parking meters. In 1964 I started a business repairing and servicing parking meters for suburban municipalities around Melbourne. At the time, there were only two different types in Australia, so to better know the product I got hold of one of each and my collection started from there.

In the early 1970s I approached the US-based PARK-O-METER (POM) and became their Australian distributor. From that point on I started to travel widely, selling meters throughout Australia and visiting the US each year to attend trade shows and conventions.

It was really business that motivated me to collect.
John Anderson, 73, Melbourne, Australia

It wasn’t long before my suppliers realized my extensive knowledge of how a parking system should be operated and they sent me to train technicians in several countries. Along the way I discovered all sorts of meters: some were successful and others were abysmal failures. I started to collect what I could find, mainly out of self-interest: to examine how they worked and why they failed. Soon my staff also got involved, and we bought, swapped or traded to obtain more. We now have about 120 different parking meters, but only have room to display around 60.

My favorite is a 1940s machine with a swinging pendulum mecha-nism. The flaw with this meter was that the moment a car hit the pole, it threw off its center of gravity and the machine stopped functioning. I don’t know how anyone of intelligence could have invented that. What I would love is to get hold of one of the original meters installed in Oklahoma City in 1935.

When I retired two years ago the company came under the control of my son-in-law and his business partner, but they still consider me the curator of the collection. I think ultimately it should be housed in a motor museum somewhere.