Northwestern 33 Peanut

(Click on image to enlarge it)

Northwestern Corporation, Morris, IL, c. 1933, 16". This is a relatively common model but it's one of my favorites. It has great art deco styling, is aesthetically well-balanced, works reliably, and came in a scad of colors.

The lid, base, and baseplate are cast iron. The mechanism is aluminum. All factory 33 Peanut mechanisms took pennies, although some vendors altered the mechanisms to take nickels instead of pennies.

The earliest model was painted 2-tone green and later models were porcelainized. The painted version is much scarcer than the porcelainized version, and almost all the painted versions I've seen have been repainted. Pictured above are all the known colors except for tan (also called "ivory," of which only one example is known and I don't own it). Red and green were stock colors, and black, blue, orange, yellow, white, brown, and ivory could be special-ordered by vendors. The red is an orangish red and is sometimes labeled "orange" by mistake. The orange is a true Sunkist-orange, and once you see it you'll never again think that "Northwestern red" is actually "orange." Black, blue, orange, yellow, and white seem to become available in streaks. As an example, I looked for a black one but couldn't find one, then I saw quite a few for about 2 years, and then they went away for awhile again. Brown is considered rare, and as mentioned above, tan is nearly nonexistent.

The gold example, shown in the last picture in the series above, is the only one known of this color. In fact, the existence of this color option wasn't known until I bought this base on a machine at an auction in the mid-2000's. I don't know if it's a tried-and-aborted Northwestern color or if the porcelain guy was hung over that day, but it's definitely a different color than the yellow I've seen on other Northwesterns (proof for this statement can be seen here and here). I bought this machine without the lid, and then several years later Mr. Northwestern came across the lid in a box of other stuff he'd acquired. The lid and base remained separated for a few years. I had mine first so I was waiting for him to offer to sell me the lid, but instead he offered me a bunch of money for my machine which at the time was sitting on my shelf adorned with a red lid. He won; he is, after all, Mr. Northwestern! I had the complete machine just long enough for me to take the picture of it, and he has it now. It's complete, and even if I don't own it I'm glad it's together. If I outlive him then I may get it back, but that'll happen only if I outlive him! I do have visitation rights.

I'm convinced that Northwestern made 2 shades of blue: A relatively bright cobalt blue and a darker navy blue. I used to think that their 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 navy blue.

The large (5 lb) smooth globe, the large stippled globe, and the small (3.5 lb) smooth globe are all correct. The large stippled globe and the small smooth globe have been reproduced, while to the best of my knowledge the large smooth globe has not. Most collectors prefer the stippled globe, but the smooth globe is considerably more common. If the stippled globe were common, then collectors would covet the smooth globe. It's just how we are.

The earliest flaps were aluminum and had "Northwestern, Morris, Illinois" stamped into a trapazoid on the flap. Next came aluminum flaps with the same Northwestern identification stamped into a rectangle on the flap, while the latest flaps still had the rectangle on it, but the gate itself was more squared off and was made of chrome-plated steel. The pictures above show examples of all 3 versions.

As they did for other models, Northwestern private-labeled the 33 Peanut for vendors---at least 10 of them, according to different vendor flaps known to exist. MC Prine was the most prolific private labeler, and also appears to have been the only one to run specific colors. All orange 33 Peanuts were MC Prine's machines, and they also ran black porcelain and green painted machines. The orange and black versions above are examples: The gate says "MC PRINE, BARABOO, WIS" instead of Northwestern. I've seen other private label gates and a few (such as DEW) are pictured in Silent Salesmen Too. Thanks to Mr. Northwestern you can see examples of 10 private-labeled flaps here.

For those who like historical minutiae, details on the base and lid castings changed as the model evolved. The base on the painted 33 Peanuts differed from that on the porcelainized version. The most easily discernable difference is the raised triangle under the flap of the painted version; that same area on a porcelainized version is flat. In addition, the grooves on the base of the painted version are sharper than those on porcelainized machines. That difference may be exacerbated by the smoothing effect of the porcelain finish, but the sharpness of the groove itself also differs. Lastly, the earliest painted lids were rounded in front and more angular on top, whereas the porcelain and later painted lids protruded in front. These differences may not be important to most people, but they're good to know when you're offered a machine with mint brown porcelain, deep grooves, and a triangle under the gate.

A few (too few in my opinion, since I don't have one) 33 Peanuts have a penny drop base. This is pictured and described on page 109 of Silent Salesmen Too, and you can see pictures of a few here (thanks again to Mr. Northwestern). They were sold separately for $3.95 each, which is one reason I'm saving my loose change toward the purchase of a cut-rate time machine. Most penny drop bases are green with tan graphics, but some were yellow with black graphics or red with black graphics. These units came complete from the baseplate down. Unlike the penny drop configuration for the Model 31, the normal 33 Peanut baseplate does not fit the bottom of the 33 Peanut penny drop base.

The examples shown above are 100% original and have a variety of color, gate, globe, and decal combinations. I'd love to add an original tan version to the line-up; if you have one then please contact me so I can tempt it away from you with a large sum of cash or a tasty trade.

I no longer own all of the machines shown above.

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



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