Northwestern 33 Ball Gum

(Click on image to enlarge it)

Northwestern Corporation, Morris, IL, c. 1933, 14 1/2". This is the sister (or brother or cousin) to the Model 33 Peanut. It has more conventional styling and is an attractive model that's aesthetically well-balanced, works reliably, and came in several colors.

The lid, base, and baseplate are cast iron. The mechanism is aluminum. Unlike the Northwestern 33 Peanut, this model was available only in porcelain. Pictured above are examples in dark blue, white, yellow, and tan. Red (which looks orangish red to me) was the stock color; other colors could be special-ordered by vendors. Tan is considered rare. I also know of black lids, and those are usually found on machines with a white base. This model is not known to have been made in green, black, or orange, all of which were available on the 33 Peanut.

I used to think that the lid should match the base; that Northwestern sold them that way, and that any other combination was created by visionary vendors or collectors. I've since been disabused of that notion. I know of a color ad that shows a yellow machine with a red lid, and Bill Enes once told me that he'd seen ads with various combinations of base and lid colors. When you get right down to it, if you ordered enough machines, Northwestern would give you whatever color it could or whatever combination you wanted. However, it seems that blue base/yellow lid, white base/black lid, yellow base/red lid, and blue base/white lid were accepted color combinations and are nowadays considered correct. Whether they were all depicted in Northwestern ads, I don't know.

I'm convinced that Northwestern made 2 shades of blue: A relatively bright cobalt blue and a dark blue that bordered on black. I used to think that Northwestern's blue varied within the range of these shades, but I've seen several of each shade on Northwestern 33 Peanuts and 33 Ball Gums, and have seen none in between. Of these 2 shades, I've seen fewer of the darker blue.

The small (3.5#) smooth globe was standard, but the large (5#) smooth globe is also correct. The stippled globe is not. The stippled globe on the 33 Peanut was the earliest globe available for that model, and it's possible that the 33 Ball Gum was introduced slightly later, after the 33 Peanut had transitioned to the smooth globe. The 3.5# globe has been reproduced, while the 5# globe has not. Original large smooth globes seem to be readily available from other collectors or from eBay, while original small globes are harder to find.

I've never seen a 33 Ball Gum private-labeled for a specific vendor, although I don't see any reason why Northwestern couldn't have done it since they did it for the 33 Peanut.

The examples shown above are 100% original. I no longer own all of them.

Many thanks to Dan Davids (a.k.a. "Mr. Northwestern") for his critical review and content suggestions.



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