Telescoping Shopping Cart

Telescoping Shopping Cart

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The convenience and carrying capacity of shopping carts play an important role in the sales of a self-service supermarket. Inventor of the earliest model of the shopping cart, Sylvan Goldman of Oklahoma City, described his idea in 1939 as a "combination of basket and carriage." The frame he devised held two baskets and was like a folding chair with wheels. In 1946, Orla E. Watson of Kansas City, developed these telescoping shopping carts that were "always ready" and required no assembly or disassembly of components before or after use.
Watson's telescoping feature allowed carts to nestle into other carts for compact storage. Each additional parked cart, claimed the brochure, required "only one-fifth as much space as an ordinary cart," which meant more carts for shoppers as well as more retail space for store owners.
Object Name
shopping cart
date made
ca 1949
Telescope Carts, Inc.
place made
United States: Missouri, Kansas City
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
overall: 94 cm x 39.5 cm x 60 cm; 37 in x 15 9/16 in x 23 5/8 in
overall: 49 in x 89 in x 28 in; 124.46 cm x 226.06 cm x 71.12 cm
ID Number
accession number
patent number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Edith Watson
See more items in
Work and Industry: Retail and Marketing
Family & Social Life
FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000
Food: Transforming the American Table
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Watson's invention also became the basis of an important tax law case (having to do with when a transfer is a sale or a license). Tax lawyers and law students read the case every year! The case is Watson v. Commissioner, 222 F.2d 689 (10th Cir. 1955).

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