6-7 October 2016

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Lot 215

1918 Cretors Model A Sidewalk Popcorn Wagon

  • Serial no. 11110

Sold for $60,500

Please note that this lot is offered on a Bill of Sale.

Drawn by hand, solid axles with transverse fully elliptical leaf spring front suspension and longitudinal semi-elliptical rear springs. Wheelbase: 61 in.

  • Authentic Cretors vending wagon
  • One of only five such examples extant
  • High-quality restoration
  • Fully functional and ready to pop and roast

The big Cretors popcorn and peanut roasting and vending wagons are well known, but it is frequently forgotten that Charles Cretors came into the limelight with a hand-drawn vending cart at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. There he dispensed snacks to all and sundry, proving that a mobile vendor could do as well or better than a storefront franchise.

His first horse-drawn Cretors wagon debuted around 1900, and it mechanized much of the process. The small steam engine, which rotated the roasting drum, was put in the window, where it amused both the young and old alike. The Model A sidewalk wagon, introduced in 1905, put these principles into a more maneuverable package for smaller spaces and had some unique features.

A Cretors No. 1 horizontal steam engine stirred the popcorn, and, when engaged by a clutch, operated the peanut roaster. This was similar to other Cretors wagons, but unique to the Model A was a red-and-white roller curtain extension awning. A gum and candy case over the peanut roasting cylinder allowed for the sale of more products, thus broadening the customer base. A 500 candlepower hollow-wire gasoline lantern, with inverted mantle, lit up the stand at night. There was also a swiveling auxiliary gas torch on the engine bed plate, which acted as a “flashlight” of the period. The glass all around was French plate beveled glass.

This Improved No. 1 Cretors Model A Sidewalk Wagon, serial number 11110, was purchased new by Bill Chelvin of Redondo Beach, California, on 6 April 1918. The price was $975, a hefty sum at the time. It was subsequently purchased by Bill Trunnell of Anaheim, California, who was associated with the long-running Rose Bowl Swap Meet in his city. Mr. Trunnell sent the wagon to Pearson & Company, specialists of Cretor’s machines, for restoration. Before the job was finished, Mr. Trunnell passed away. The current owner acquired it from Trunnell’s widow about 20 years ago.

The owner, who has extensive experience with Cretors wagons, researched it carefully and completed the detailing, which was unfinished when he bought it. This has included attaching the fuel tank with its brackets, fitting a correct air pump to pressurize the fuel system and adding the correct Cretors fuel tank pressure gauge. The roof was removed and completely restored, and the wheels were carefully restored and re-finished. An original tongue was restored and fitted for pulling the wagon. The wagon was then outfitted with a proper candy box, glass jars, and shelves. The beveled glass is all original.

Robert Pearson of Pearson & Company, the Cretors registrar, reports that only five Model A Sidewalk wagons survive. The most deluxe of hand-drawn vending wagons, the Model A cost three times the price of a basic model. In contrast to the larger Cretors wagons, the Model A is much smaller and easier to maneuver; the operator stands beside it, not inside. Fully operational, it is ready to roast, pop, and serve all.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver


+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat


+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht


+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig


+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose


+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould


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Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff


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Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach


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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry


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California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut


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California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire


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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn


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Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin


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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill


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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher


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Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers


+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden


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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more