Years ago at a junque/antique shop, I bought an old parking meter.  Why you may ask?  BECAUSE!  Geez, how many people just can't see how cool that is?  I'm not the strange one here.

Anyway, there is a certain fascination with a mechanical device that is robust enough to sit outside in the rain and snow for decades at a time and yet remain subtle enough to accept money and distinguish between the coin types.  

I drilled out the locks (yes, there were a total of three!) and got into the inner sanctum:  the coin box.  It seems a bit of overkill to have a set of two locks on a coinbox (actually a cylinder) that holds $10 worth of change, tops.  Anyway, I was fascinated to find out that the things are mechanical – like wind-up clocks.  Who knew?  Apparently, whoever was assigned to empty the coinbox was also supposed to wind them up too.  Unfortunately, mine is messed up somehow since it doesn't tick when you put in a penny.  It just gives you 12 minutes and it stays that way forever.  Not a bad deal if you're wanting to park your car but if, like me, you started out to make yourself a lamp that would turn itself off and look cool in the process, well you're out of luck.  

I'd say that was worth the $20 I paid for it just for the fun of figuring out how it works.  For example, the coinbox is a cylinder with a rotating window operated by a key.  You can pour the money out whenever you turn the key properly.  To figure that out and get access to all the old money in it made me feel like that guy in The DaVinci Code when he figured out how to open the cryptex and discover the location of The Holy Grail.  It was slightly dissappointing to find only pennies from the early 80's but figureing the thing out was fun.  I had imagined it being full of old coins from the 50's maybe but apparently it was much newer than that.  Still, it was fun stuff.