Two artifacts of Sandwich Manufacturing Co. history that had not been together for 97 years were reunited on June 23, 2018, at the Sandwich Early Day Engine Club’s 47th annual show in Sandwich, Illinois.
I was browsing eBay for Sandwich items one day, and I came across an invoice for a 1-1/2hp Sandwich engine, serial no. A19201. The dealer, Hal Osmanson of Morris, Illinois, paid $56 for this engine, F.O.B. Sandwich, Illinois. I was very intrigued by this because very few paper trails exist for Sandwich engines. This is because all the old shipping and production records were burned when New Idea operated the Sandwich factory in the 1940s. We get numerous requests from Sandwich owners all over the world through our club’s e-mail asking: “What year was my engine made?”
Some records have come to light in the recent years, and this invoice is another data point to place a year on a certain serial number. Since the serial numbers are consecutive, regardless of engine size, we can draw some lines in the sand for certain serial numbers and narrow down date ranges for production. If you have any documentation like this, please send us a note so we can better answer these questions.
Looking at the invoice, I wondered: Where is this engine now? Could it still exist? I then went to look at Ray Forrer’s Sandwich Engine Registry to see if it was listed. And there it was on the list, and shown to still be in Illinois. I knew immediately that I had to get this piece of history to the rightful owner with the engine.
I placed a low bid on the invoice thinking that it would go sky-high, as all old Sandwich paperwork does. I also thought: What if I bid up the guy who actually owns the engine? But never anticipating that I would be the high bidder, I figured that I should throw one at it just in case, and if I didn’t win, I could still send pictures from the auction to the owner if I tracked him down. Much to my surprise, I was the only bidder and won the auction for around $15.
I then called Ray to see who had the engine. I must offer Ray much praise for his work on this registry over the last four decades. We would not know as much as we do about these engines if it were not for his effort. He is a wealth of knowledge and willing to share it with anybody. Matt Hathorn of Morris, Illinois, the same city as the original dealer, is now the proud owner of the engine.
I knew of Matt, but had never actually met him. I traded a few emails with him several years ago about his engine, and his father and my parents went to high school together in Newark, Illinois. I now had a great reason to meet Matt and to reunite these two long-lost Sandwich artifacts.
I replied to an old email thread Matt and I had going from 2007, hoping he still had the same address and still had the engine. The next day I had an email reply from Matt and we chatted on the phone. As you can imagine, Matt was extremely excited to know this original invoice for his engine still existed. I invited Matt to bring the engine to the Sandwich show and we made plans to reunite the engine with its invoice.
We met at the show and I gave Matt the invoice. The pictures that my lovely wife, Carrie, took tells this part of the story better than I can. I was honored to help bring this full circle and Matt was delighted to have such an important document of his engine’s history.
About the engine: This 1-1/2hp engine, serial no. A19201, was built by the Sandwich Manufacturing Co., of Sandwich, Illinois, in early 1921 (assumed by the April 21 date on the invoice). It was originally furnished on a skid, with a Webster magneto and a 4-inch x 4-inch pulley. It cost the dealer $56. It now sits on an original Sandwich cart that would have been correct for this engine. It is unknown when the engine was placed on the cart, but perhaps it was done at the dealer. Matt’s grandfather acquired the engine in the 1960s and was thought to be the second owner.
Matt and I charged the magnets on my grandfather’s magnet charger. The old Webster was throwing a good spark, but we couldn’t get it to fire at the show. We suspected check valve issues since it hadn’t run in years, so Matt said he’d clean that out at home. Sure enough, I talked with Matt a few months later and it was indeed the check valve and he had it running.
I began to wonder if there were more of these invoices from the dealer, so I contacted the seller through eBay. I then met a local history buff named Tim Smith of Plainfield, Illinois. Tim told me he had been buying local history items for years, mostly from Joliet, and was starting to thin out his collection. Tim said he purchased the items from Hal Osmanson’s dealership from an antique dealer 20 plus years ago in Joliet that had a business of cleaning out old buildings. Osmanson was a Cadillac and Buick dealer at the 700 block of Liberty Street in downtown Morris, Illinois. He was also the implement dealer for IHC, Oil Pull, Oliver chilled plows and Sandwich. Tim was also so gracious as to refund the purchase price because he was also excited to hear the story of Matt’s engine.
I am honored to be a part of this story about a nearly 100-year-old engine that has never been more than 30 miles from where it was manufactured, and still resides in the same town where it was sold by the original dealer in 1921. As always, this hobby brings us together to meet the best people on the planet, Ray, Matt and Tim being three of those.