1906 Hammond San Francisco California Street Cable Car
Lot 206¤
1906 Hammond San Francisco California Street Cable Car
Sold for US$ 87,500 inc. premium
Lot Details
1906 Hammond San Francisco California Street Cable Car
Car no. 11

One of only a handful of Cable Cars in private hands
Beautifully preserved
Known history from new
Uniquely painted in pre-1906 earthquake livery
The ultimate piece of San Francisco memorabilia

As cities expanded, public transit system that could rapidly move people through the neighborhoods became a greater priority. By the mid-1800s, horse-drawn omnibuses provided swift intercity transport. San Francisco faced a unique problem borne out of its hilly terrain and steeply angled streets. In 1869, a young Andrew Smith Hallidie was inspired to action after witnessing horses struggling to pull a horse-drawn streetcar up Jackson Street on a damp day slip and get dragged to their death. Hallidie's solution was a steam-powered cable driven railway.

Hallidie's father was an inventor with a British patent for 'wire rope', so it was only natural that the younger Hallidie would employ the technology in his invention. Relying on a single steam-powered cable, multiple street cars could grip the cable to pull themselves at steady speeds up the steep hills. First tested in the morning of August 2, 1873 on Clay Street, the system proved to be a success and soon resulted in the construction of 53 miles of track laid by eight different cable car companies. Despite becoming obsolete in 1947 with the proliferation of buses, a coalition of citizens helped to save a few lines from ultimate destruction ensuring that this unique transportation system would not only survive into the future but go on to become a defining feature of San Francisco.

This double-ended Cable Car, number 11, is of the type still used today on California Street running from Market Street to Van Ness Ave. All California Street Cable Cars were destroyed in the fires that followed the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, this car is one of the replacements built in 1906 by Hammond (others were built by Holman up until 1909 and a small number were later built by Cal Cable in 1913 and '14).

A unique feature of car 11 is its pre-1906 livery and windowless ends. According to transit historian Emiliano Eschevarria, this car was part of the 1950 Cable Car Carnival in which local companies sponsored Cable Cars to be rolling advertisements. This particular car became a billboard for D. Zelinsky & Sons who were active painting contractors in the 1940s and '50s. As part of their sponsorship, and no doubt to highlight their abilities, they exactly replicated the pre-earthquake livery with the ribbon and lettering scrolls. They even did away with the windows front and rear—a requirement since 1904. For unknown reasons, this livery was maintained even after the Carnival ended.

Mr. Cox Jr. likely acquired car 11 at or very shortly following the 1954-55 San Francisco Municipal Railway selloff when cable car lines were cut back following the Railway's acquisition of Cal Cable, which operated the California Street Cable Cars. Presented today in beautifully preserved condition, the exterior paint shows a lovely patina while the interior paint is suffering from the effects of age. Missing much of its interior lighting and lacking the Hallidie Brake hardware (the grips have been sawed off under the car), it does still retain all of its operating levers and even has period 1940s and '50s advertisements along the raised clerestory roof.

A rare opportunity to acquire a stellar piece of San Francisco history, it is the ultimate bit of memorabilia from the City by the Bay.

Offered on a Bill of Sale.

Due to the size of this lot, the Cable Car will not be present at the preview/auction at the NASW Aviation Museum. For information regarding viewing times and collection, please consult the department.
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Lot symbols
¤ Without reserve
Contacts
  1. Kurt Forry
    Specialist - Motor Cars
    Bonhams
    Work
    220 San Bruno Avenue
    San Francisco, United States 94103
    Work +1 415 503 3248
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