11-12 October 2012

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Lot 283

1915 Stanley Model 820 Mountain Wagon

  • Chassis no. 15055

$200,000 - $250,000

30 hp, two-cylinder double-acting steam engine, solid front axle with semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension in the front and rear, and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 136 in.

• Ex-James Melton and Thomas C. Marshall

• The only Model 820 with its original Stanley-built body

• Extraordinary patina and authenticity

Chassis 15055 has been well-known in Stanley circles since World War II. It was owned by popular tenor and personality James Melton from approximately 1944 to 1952, when he sold a number of vehicles from his collection of approximately 150 cars. Melton was an important early collector from Connecticut who was responsible for saving a number of significant early cars. In a copy of the Melton Museum brochure, graciously provided by his daughter Margo, Melton comments on the Mountain Wagon, “In the early days, these vehicles were used in Estes Park and Yellowstone National Park for sightseeing tours, hence the name Mountain Wagon. It has the 30 hp engine and boiler with a very low gear ratio… [it] will scale any wall, and carries 12 passengers. Just the thing for meeting the train from New York when we have a large party.” Melton enthusiastically drove many of his vehicles, and it is quite believable that the Stanley was used by him, just as described.

The next owner of the Stanley was Thomas Clarence Marshall, a Stanley dealer in Yorklyn, Delaware, from 1910 into the late teens. In 1940, he thought he'd like to tinker with a Stanley again and tracked down one of the cars he had sold, a 1913 Model 76, and found it still with the original purchaser. Marshall bought it back and began collecting Stanleys and other steamers, at one point amassing the largest collection of Stanleys in existence! The remainder of his collection now forms the basis of the Marshall Steam Museum. Subsequent owners include Robert M. Chambers, followed by Harry Resnick of Ellenville, New York, where it was displayed at the Harry Resnick Motor Museum, which was dissolved in the 1970s; it was later displayed for some time at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum.

In addition to having a very long-term, known, significant ownership history, chassis 15055 has the distinction of being the only Model 820 to retain its original Stanley-built body. A very good older restoration, it appears to remain correct in all respects and has been recently serviced by Alan Kelso, of Steaman Inc. The work performed included the installation of a new 30 horsepower baker burner and the service and repair of the pilot. The fuel tanks were removed and cleaned, in addition to the installation of new pressure bottles. All pumps and valves were checked, renewed, and repacked. The chassis is also reported to be excellent and solid, as are the wheels, which are tight and solid. This Stanley Mountain Wagon has an extraordinary patina, which has been appreciated by owners of vehicles of this vintage for generations. It has spent most of the last six decades in a small handful of private museums and collections. Recently serviced, cleaned, and detailed, it is ready to continue being displayed as a historic piece of Stanley history, or perhaps pressed back into use the way James Melton would have advised over half a century ago.

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


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