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Antiques & Collecting: Popcorn wagon an early food truck

The smell of the popcorn draws customers to a traveling popcorn machine. This modernized wagon, which looks on the outside like it did in 1910, sold at an antiques auction for $34,000.
The smell of the popcorn draws customers to a traveling popcorn machine. This modernized wagon, which looks on the outside like it did in 1910, sold at an antiques auction for $34,000.

Popcorn wasn’t a popular snack food until the 1890s, when Charles Cretors created a steam-powered machine to roast peanuts, coffee and popcorn to sell from a wagon on the street near his Chicago candy store.

He kept improving the machinery and the product, and in 1885, he started C. Cretors and Co. In 1893, he took his popcorn wagon to the Chicago Columbian Exposition to sell his new product — popped corn.

He made individual horse-drawn popcorn wagons for customers, and by 1900, he made the first electric popcorn wagon. He made more changes as the popcorn-eating public went to the movies.

Cretors changed his business to make things for the war effort in the 1940s. His machines were modernized by the 1950s, but the company still made old-fashioned popcorn wagons for use and display.

Today, you may find a popcorn wagon, horse-drawn or motorized, at an antiques auction. A 15-foot-long horse-drawn Cretors 1910 wagon recently sold at a Kamelot auction in Philadelphia for $34,000. It even has a custom-made travel trailer for long trips. Back in style again are modern food trucks that can go where the crowd is, and the popcorn wagon is still one of the most popular.

One of the drawer pulls to my wife’s Clark’s O.N.T. spool cabinet is missing. I’m trying to locate one like it. The backplates are embossed “O.N.T.” Can you help?

Some online sites offer similar replacement drawer pulls. Although they aren’t marked “O.N.T.,” the style is very similar, and they might be an acceptable substitute.

Some sites that sell similar drawer pulls are hardwareofthepast.com and robinsonsantiques.com, and there are other sites that sell all sorts of used hardware for antiques.

I have a set of 10 pull-down maps that were in school classrooms in the 1960s and 1970s and was wondering what they would be worth today.

Colorful maps sell quickly as decorative items. Some people look for maps of the city or area where they live or for places they’ve traveled to, while others choose maps just for their decorative appeal. Schoolroom maps might sell to someone decorating a child’s room. They sell online for $300.

Current Prices

Commode, 2 doors, 2 shelves, mirrored, brass trim, shaped top, conforming body, Art Deco, 39 x 60 inches, $130.

Globe, terrestrial, figural stand, robed woman, holding stand and globe on her head, ball, Girard Barrere et Thomas, 38 inches, $160.

Sevres vase, swan handles, gilt, diamond pattern, flowers, pink, purple, white, 34 inches, $250.

Document box, oak, carved, band of stylized flowers, keyhole, English, 1700s, 9 x 27 inches, $280.

Tip: Don’t scour a seasoned iron pan to clean it. Scrape off any particles with a spoon.

For more collecting news, tips and resources, visit www.Kovels.com. 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.

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