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Museum display documents Duncan's 70 years
December 11, 2006
by Dwain Lair, Times Staff
Duncan parking meters were intertwined in Clark Selby's life for about 40 years, taking him to more than 60 countries in six continents.
A slice of that history is on permanent display at the Boone County Heritage Museum. The Duncan Industries exhibit takes up an entire wall with artwork and photographs, parking meters and inner mechanisms, and a timeline and history of the company. Even the company's original product, a Duncan yoyo, is on display.
Selby worked on everything engineering to company president and salesman to consultant. He is intimately familiar with each working parking meter in the display. The original parking meter was created in 1936, the No. 40 casting. It was originally designed to give a receipt. But with only pennies paid into the meter, receipts were too much trouble.
He said the No. 50 casting was the real beginning, then the Model 60 was cast and became a world standard. All of those models were cast in Harrison.
The Model 70 started digital parking meters, and those times still blink on and off at the museum. It also was cast of steel to resemble an old round vault door. He sold 65,000 of those parking meters to New York City.
The Model 80 was cast of all-iron because of problems with vandals breaking into the tops of the meters.
At one point, he said Duncan designed parking meters that would pay customers a token that they could redeem with merchants. Merchants liked the meters, but not city officials.
Looking closer at the meters, Selby pointed out that 6,000 of the double meters had seen duty at Westminster (London), Great Britain. He pointed out that the violation flag is divided into regular penalty and excess charges. After the penalty time expires, the fine is quadrupled to help support the royal family.
Other parking meters on display including one that monitored parking in South Africa and another from Kuwait that with Arabic coins. A parking meter from Hong Kong was metered for both Chinese and English and from Dublin, Ireland, was metered for both English and Gaelic.
Selby said Duncan relocated to Harrison from Chicago because of an abundance of machinists who had worked for the Missouri & North Arkansas Railway.
As Duncan celebrates its 70th year of business, Selby designed the Boone County Heritage Museum's display with help from sons Robert, who lives in Fayetteville and did the company's calendar art for years, and Mike, who operates Wildcat Shoals at Flippin with his wife, Phyllis.
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