Antique Ultimate Bell Punch Company Bus Ticket Machine with coloured tickets Made in England.
There were two main problems that faced the early bus and tramway operators with regard to fare collection. One was that of fare dodgers and the other was the possibility of conductors who would fiddle the takings, though it's only a very small minority who would do such things. The solution to these was the Bell Punch ticket system. This was quite ingenious as the system had methods to defeat both, however it was very labour intensive.
The Bell Punch Company produced an automated version of their pre-printed ticket system, which they called "Ultimate". These used continuous ticket rolls with the values printed on them. Each ticket carried a serial number and a pre-printed value. The machines had several tracks each of which had a lever at the front that ejected a ticket, which was then torn off against a serrated cutter. The fare stage could be printed in one of three positions on the bottom of the ticket. Each new ticket roll had a piece of adhesive tape (which the conductor had to lick) to join it to the end of the old one, which was supposed to prevent the conductor having to change rolls mid-journey.
The system coped better with changing fare structures, but after a while, the machines became unreliable and would jam up. It was not uncommon to see conductors tearing off tickets from the back of the machines at busy times. Its also not that uncommon at the museum! In the West Midlands, this system was used by West Bromwich, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.